Dial H For Hero #1
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Joe Quinones
Published by DC Comics

Review by Stacy Dooks

Astute readers might note that, with relatively few exceptions, I don’t do a lot of reviews of comics from the big two of Marvel or DC. The last series of books I reviewed for DC was their Dark Nights Metal tie-ins featuring the various evil alternate Batmen from the Dark Multiverse (which was glorious, by the way) but in the main I tend to avoid DC Comics in general. It’s not that there aren’t top-flight talent over at DC, it’s just that by and large the stories they’re telling don’t really gibe with my Bronze Age Comics sensibilities. I’m an old-school kid who remembers when DC Comics were a bit less portentious and a bit more fun. Of course, taste is subjective and if what they’re doing works for you, more power to you. But it takes a rare book to make me cross the Rubicon and plunk down my hard-earned money for a new title, let alone one from DC. Enter Dial H For Hero #1. What’d I think? Well, let’s talk about it.

The original Dial H For Hero serial debuted in the anthology comic House of Mystery in 1966 with a pretty interesting premise: teenager Robby Reed (the Silver Age loved its alliteration) finds a mysterious dial in a cavern. Resembling an old-style rotary phone, the dial consists of four letters: H-E-R-O. Whenever danger threatened, Robby dialed HERO and would become a different superpowered hero in every story. There was even a write-in campaign where kids would suggest what kind of hero Robby would become. The concept carried down through the years, but was never one of their top tier books. It’s mainly memorable for the interesting concept of a mystic device that can turn a person into a superhero for a limited time. With Dial H For Hero #1, we meet Miguel, a nice kid who’s living a dead-end life in a dead-end town. He writes letters to Superman, who saved him from drowning when he was little, and yearns for that same kind of rush he got when he flew with the Man of Steel, making him a bit of a thrillseeker and all-around adrenaline junkie. When a stunt goes wrong though, he finds he might just have powers and abilities far beyond those of mere mortals. . .but these powers are apparently a known commodity, coveted by others,  and there’s no instruction manual.

To delve into it any further would risk spoilers, but I find it interesting that this book is coming out around the same time as the upcoming SHAZAM film, as they share some common ground: a young man in a bad place in life who’s given a means to tap into incredible power and engage in some genuine wish-fulfillment. Sam Humprhies turns in a script that is at equal turns hilarious and heartfelt, as you laugh at Miguel’s remembrances of Superman making a truly bad joke and feel empathy for his current situation. Joe Quinones’ art is excellent, with a lot of fun detail to it, particularly in his expressions work and how he gives the human and the superhuman a unique, cinematic feel. He also shows a deft hand at switching styles when Miguel makes his first transformation into. . .well, I won’t dare spoil it for you, but it made me laugh out loud when I saw him. It was delightful.

The Verdict

Buy It. I have to say that if Dial H For Hero #1 is indicative of the Wonder Comics imprint and it’s overall goals I may have to add more DC Comics to my To-Read pile. Fun, funny, and intriguing, Dial H For Hero #1 is definitely worth a read. Recommended.

Stacy Dooks
Stacy Dooks is a writer and assorted pop culture fanatic whose childhood fixations on the works of Jim Henson, George Lucas, and DC Comics laid the groundwork for his current status as a pop culture junkie chatterbox. He currently resides in Calgary, Alberta while he waits for his TARDIS coral to finish growing. For more of his observations on popular culture, check out The Fanboy Power Hour: http://tfph.libsyn.com/

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