April 15, 2013

Dial H for…Speed Force? (Review of Dial H #11)

Category: Reviews — By @ 12:00 pm

dial h 11 coverThe title Dial H goes back for a very, very long time…all the way back to Robby Reed in the Silver Age (does the word “sockamagee” mean anything to you?).  But, this volume of Dial H has a decidedly different approach from the cute hero-for-a-moment formula, one that works very well in the New52.  In this series, there are actually several dials out there, even one for becoming a sidekick who follows the lead of their “hero”.  Up to now, the special powers granted appeared to come from somewhere outside the reality of the New52…but not anymore!

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD – DON’T READ UNTIL YOU’VE READ THE ISSUE!

Dial H #11 picks up with a very, uh, personal situation for Nelson and Roxie.  At the end of last issue, they became intimate…and now Nelson is having a lot of trouble dealing with that reality.  In his haste to get away he dials “H-E-R-O”…and gains the power of the Flash!  Yes, this explains why Barry lost his powers at a very critical moment in the most recent issue of The Flash.  The only problem?  Nelson can’t control his speed!  He is desperately trying to slow down without success, leaving a note for Roxie one piece at a time.

Once he gets his speed under control, they realize something terrible…every time they have used the dial, they aren’t “creating” a power, they’re stealing that power from someone else!  Up to this point they haven’t realized it because the powers they have stolen didn’t belong to a well-known DCU hero.  But, the question now is not only what they should do…but whether one of those heroes may come looking for them seeking justice or revenge?

There isn’t a lot of time to think of that, though.  Their nemesis, the Centipede, is busy trying to open a portal to “The Fixer”, in order to strike a terrible bargain.  The Fixer is now able to access the reality of the New52…and able to track down Nelson and Roxie!  Nelson’s time as the Flash ends at a most inopportune time, leading to a cliffhanger that leaves even the ability of Nelson and Roxie to survive in doubt.  Whether they will make it and how is something we will have to wait for next issue to see.  But, we also need to get the next issue of The Flash to find out what happens when Barry regains his connection to the Speed Force.

This is a very good, Vertigo-like series set in the DC New52 Universe.  I really have only two complaints about this issue, and they are minor.  Up to this point, we have seen rather fanciful characters created by the dial – that fits with the long history of the “Dial”.  Having a mainstream character called up by the dial really changes up a basic tenet of the series, though again this is a minor complaint.  The other concern? I was truly hoping to see The Flash in this issue…we got his costume, and we even got his powers…we just didn’t get him.  Not even a powerless Barry Allen was in this issue.  But, there was still something special for Flash fans in a way…

Watching Nelson try to handle the powers of the Flash is like watching someone without the appropriate will power trying to use a Green Lantern ring…and in a way it shows even more the heroism and determination it takes to handle the power of the Speed Force.  Nelson wasn’t “called” to the Speed Force, but mainlined it all at once and simply couldn’t handle it very well at all.  That is in keeping with Nelson’s character in this series, and it still gave a bit of super-speed action for Flash fans…just not in the way one might expect.

This story was written by China Mieville, with Alberto Ponticelli and Dan Green on pencils and inks and colors by Richard and Tanya Horie.  They took a very creative point of view with Nelson/Flash – while they did a very credible job drawing the Flash, they still kept a set of facial expressions that would never be seen with Barry but make perfect sense with Nelson.  If you haven’t checked out Dial H before now, there will be a lot of the story that may be difficult to catch up with…but if you are a Flash fan it is still worth the read.

2 responses to “Dial H for…Speed Force? (Review of Dial H #11)”

  1. Wally East says:

    This was one of those times when I really would’ve appreciated a summary page at the beginning of the issue. I enjoyed what I could understand of the issue.

  2. Kelson says:

    I picked up the first issue of Dial H when it launched, and while I found the concept interesting, it didn’t grab me enough to keep reading. Coming back to it a year in, I found this issue intriguing enough that I think I might pick up the first collection.

    There was a lot going on that I didn’t understand, but most of the immediate stuff was made clear enough to follow, and more importantly, the stuff I didn’t understand made me interested in finding out more about it.

    I’m not sure this makes a huge change in the concept as long as the mainstream heroes are a rare occurrence. There’s the question of what made this instance different, although I suppose it could simply be a matter of big numbers: There are a few major heroes and lots of minor heroes in any given universe, and 52 universes to pull from, so chances are most of the time you’ll get a minor hero from another universe.

    What seems to matter here is that it was a hero that Nelson & Roxie recognized, which means that now they *know* the dial steals powers from real people.

    The selection of the Flash in particular is a good thematic one from the standpoint of simply being overwhelmed – especially since that was one of the themes of the early New 52 Flash series.

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