Dial H for Hero #1 is the latest title that DC is publishing under their Wonder Comics banner. Up to this point, the Wonder Comics banner has given us Naomi, Wonder Twins, and Young Justice. We here at the Revolution have been rather disappointed with all three Wonder Comics titles. None of the comics have been [particularly entertaining nor have the given the reader quality writing from a technical standpoint.
Hopefully, Dial H for Hero #1 will provide Wonder Comics with a title that delivers a hit with its debut issue. I have always loved the Dial H for Hero gimmick. DC has given readers multiple versions of Dial H for Hero over the decades.
The original Dial H for Hero protagonist was Robbie Reed. The second version of Dial H for Hero was the team of Chris King and Vickie Grant. This is the version that I grew up with. Then we got a third version of Dial H for Hero during the New 52 with the team of Nelson Jent and Manteau. Those are just the main versions of Dial H for Hero. There have been numerous other characters who have wielded the dial for a single time or for a handful of times.
DC is now poised to give us the fourth main version of Dial H for Hero under the new Wonder Comics banner. This new version of Dial H for Hero centers on our current protagonist: Miguel. I have high hopes that this is going to be a fun read. Let’s hit this review for Dial H for Hero #1.
Words: Stan Humphries
Art: Joe Quinones
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Miguel as a young boy at a swimming pool. Miguel tries to do a backflip off the high diving board and screws up and hits his head on the dicing board. Miguel is knocked out and sinks in the pool like a rock. Luckily, Superman is nearby and swoops in to save Miguel.
Superman flies Miguel into the air. Superman tells Miguel that he will be okay and that his X-ray vision has revealed that Miguel does not have a serious injury. Superman flies Miguel to the hospital.
Ever since that day, Miguel has lived his life trying to feel that same rush as flying with Superman. We see Miguel rock climbing, engaging in backyard “pro” wrestling, riding a skateboard, and driving a go-kart. Miguel found real life hard to compare to that rush of flying in the air.
Miguel hints to his parents dying at some point. Then Miguel went to live with his Uncle Brant in a small town called Devil’s Canyon in California. Uncle Brant owns a food truck called Mayo Madness where all the food is made from mayonnaise. Miguel hates the jerk water town of Devil’s Canyon and he hates working at the food truck.
We see Miguel closing down the food truck and taking out the trash. He comes across a red-headed girl names Summer. Miguel knows Summer as the girl who is always trying to run away and that she does it for the attention. Summer says that she tries to run away because she is the only person to try to get out of this stupid town.
Summer asks Miguel if he has any food that is not made from mayonnaise. Miguel offers Summer a sandwich that he had made for himself. Summer takes the sandwich and thanks Miguel.
Suddenly, Uncle Brant appears on the scene and yells at Miguel for wasting time talking to Summer. Uncle Brant says that Miguel needs to go clean the mayo traps. Miguel says that he was planning on going to the canyon once he was done taking out the trash. That Brandon and some other friends have built a bike jump out there.
Uncle Brant says that he agreed to take Miguel in after what happened to Miguel’s parents. But, that Miguel will not a freeloader. Miguel then glumly goes to clean out the mayo traps.
We cut to later at the canyon. Miguel is on his bike and about to sue the jump ramp to fly across the canyon. The ramp looks sketchy. Miguel thinks about how he misses his parents and how he feels trapped in this town. Miguel wonders if Superman ever hate where he grew up.
Miguel races down the ramp and then into the air. Miguel realizes that he is not going to cross the canyon. Miguel wonders if Superman ever tried to press things too far. Miguel then comes flying off the bicycle. Miguel goes plummeting to the bottom of the canyon.
Suddenly, a red rotary phone appears in the air next to Miguel. A voice tells Miguel to dial H if Miguel wants to live. Miguel dials H on the rotary phone and a telephone booth suddenly appears around him. This reminds Miguel of a poster he had in his room of Superman stepping out of a phone booth.
A portal appears beneath the phone booth and it falls into the portal. We cut to Robin, Lobo, Snapper Carr, Angel O’Day, Sam the Ape, Harley Quinn, and Alfred all have a glowing “4” appear on their foreheads. All fo the characters comment that someone is using the H-dial. Lobo comments that he has to have it. Snapper Car says he would do anything to dial it again. Alfred immediately calls Batman and lets him know that the H-dial is back.
We cut back to Miguel in another dimension. A hooded person tells Miguel that if he wishes to escape, if he wishes to be magnificent, if he wishes to discover himself then all he has to do is dial. We see a massive H-dial in front of Miguel.
We then see Miguel transform into a hero named Monster Truck. (OMG. I already love this character!) We learn that Monster Truck is the champion of trucking and is given his powers by the immortal Truck Force. (YES! This is like every cartoon and comic I read as a kid!)
Monster Truck shows off all of his super powers including super strength and diesel engine powers. We see that Monster Truck is inside a lot of a car dealer and is smashing all of the cars in proving the superiority of 18 wheelers over cars.
Suddenly, Monster Truck transforms back into Miguel. Miguel is overwhelmed by his new abilities. The police then surround the car dealer and tell whoever is inside to come out peacefully. Miguel then sneaks out of the car dealer lot and runs down the street.
We then see the Mayo Madness food truck suddenly appear on the scene. We see that Summer has stolen the food truck and is here to rescue Miguel from the police. Miguel gets into the food truck. Summer says that they are getting the hell out of this town.
Miguel has the red rotary phone sitting in his lap. The phone begins ringing. Miguel answers the phone. We see the hooded figure from earlier on the other line of the phone. The hooded figure says that he is called the Operator. The Operator says that he is in the Heroverse. The Operator says that he needs Miguel’s help. The Operator says that the H-Dial is extremely dangerous and Miguel must protect it. That the agents of the Thunderbolt Club will go to any lengths to get the H-Dial including killing Miguel for it. End of issue.
The Good: Dial H for Hero #1 was an absolute blast to read! Sam Humphries delivers an issue that is a classic super hero story with an emphasis on fun and excitement. Dial H for Hero has its roots in Silver Age zaniness. I am thrilled that Humphries does not run away from this fact. Instead, Humphries throws his arms around the strong Silver Age roots of the Dial H for Hero franchise and embraces the Silver Age craziness.
To be sure, Dial H for Hero #1 mainlines Silver Age insanity straight into the reader’s brain. But, what makes it work is the fact that Humphries knows how to repackage these Silver Age themes in a distinctly modern fashion. Dial H for Hero #1 is unabashedly Silver Age in its wildness, but the delivery of the story is modern that will appeal to modern younger readers.
Sticking true to Silver Age themes and still making the story appealing to younger modern readers is an incredibly tough task. It is important that younger modern readers engage with this story and relate to both Miguel and his journey. Humphries manages to pull off this decidedly tough task by focusing on core themes that resonate with teens of absolutely any generation.
Humphries focuses on the feelings of being destined for something greater. Humphries channels the youthful desire to experience the world outside of their hometown. The desire to pursue their dreams and to become something greater. This allows Humphries to create a story that resonates with younger readers.
However, do not confuse Dial H for Hero with a kiddie comic that will not appeal to older readers. That is not even close to being the case. Humphries infuses Dial H for Hero with plenty of enthusiasm and excitement that makes this issue vibrant. Humphries also focuses on making this story an all-ages action and adventure romp that never talks down to younger readers and never comes across as kiddie to older readers. It is quite an impressive that Humphries managed to thread this needle.
Dial H for Hero #1 has a neat subtle Star Wars: A New Hope vibe. Substitutive Devil’s Canyon for Tatooine, substitute draining the mayo drains for draining the moisture vapirators, substitute wanting to experience adrenaline rush inducing feats like flying for wanting to go join the Academy and learn how to be a pilot. Both Miguel and Luke Skywalker want to get out of their backwater town (planet). Both Miguel and Luke want to do something greater and bigger with their lives. Both Miguel and Luke want to experience excitement and action. Both Miguel and Luke are orphans. And both Miguel and Luke have Uncles who are hellbent on crushing their dreams.
By tapping into these classic themes for any grand coming of age adventure tale, Humphries manages to make Dial H for Hero #1 a story that will appeal to a wide range of readers. This also helps to give Dial H for Hero #1 a timeless vibe to the story versus a “trendy” and “modern” story that will quickly feel incredibly dated in just a few years.
Dial H for Hero #1 is a well plotted and paced. Humphries delivers a pleasant mix of dialogue heavy scenes and action scenes. I love that Humphries wastes zero time introducing the main character, the supporting cast, introducing the H-dial and displaying its powers, and then quickly installing the first story arc and conflict for our hero. That is a ton to deliver in the debut issue of a new title.
Humphries moves the story forward with a clear direction and purpose in mind. Humphries gives the reader a clear sense of what title this is going to be and what we can expect with the upcoming issues. I appreciate that Humphries is able to give Dial H for Hero a clear identity in just one issue. The reader understands that we are in store for a classic superhero action and adventure story that any reader of any age can enjoy.
Humphries ends Dial H for Hero #1 with an excellent hook ending. We have the appearance of the mysterious Operator. We also have the threat of the Thunderbolt Club who are willing to kill Miguel in order to get the H-dial. THis is more good plotting in that Humphries quickly installs the villains for the story and gets the reader excited to come back for more. The Thunderbolt Club is probably based on the old Dial H for Hero group of villains known as the Thunderbolt Organization. They were led by the evil Mr. Thunder. I am certainly excited to learn more about the Thunderbolt Club and their possible connections to the Thunderbolt Organization.
I dig how Humphries employs the various Silver Age concepts in Dial H for Hero #1. The most obvious is the H-Dial which takes the form of a gloriously retro glowing red rotary phone. Most kids would have no concept of a rotary phone. I love that Humphries refrained from trying to make a cheesy “modern” update to the H-Dial that would have become horribly dated and lame in a short time. Instead, Humphries leans into the Silver Age roots of Dial H for Hero and delivers a classic and iconic look for the H-Dial that works no matter the age of the reader or the time period.
Humphries continues the Silver Age vibe by having the H-Dial create a phone booth around Miguel to enable him to travel across dimensions. Again, a phone booth is an iconic object that is forever intertwined with Superman. THis is a nice way to use an iconic object that has long-time ties to Superman who serves as Miguel’s inspiration to become something greater.
Then we get to the powers of the H-dial to transform its owner into superheroes with crazy and over-the-top gimmicks. Humphries hits it out of the park with Monster Truck. This character is delightfully wild and zany. Monster Truck cones across as a Jack Kirby character with a slight 1990’s vibe. Monster Truck’s origin reminds me of plenty of 1980’s toyline/cartoons of that decade. What a wonderful mashup. I absolutely adored this character.
Monster Truck is an example of how the Dial H for Hero franchise enables a writer to be as creative as possible. Anything goes with these H-dial created superheroes. The H-dial is a wonderful plot device that allows the writer to be limited by nothing other than their imagination.
Humphries piqued my interest with the page involving the various characters reacting to the H-dial being activated. This is a fantastic way to weave Miguel into the tapestry of the DCU in an organic fashion. I dig the concept of prior welders of the H-dial being able to sense it being activated. Humphries picked an eclectic group of character in this scene. We have Robin, Alfred, Lobo, Harley Quinn, Snapper Carr and Angel and the Ape. Robin is a nice choice to tie Miguel into Young Justice. In fact, I would be fine with Miguel joining Young Justice. They need more male members to balance the team. Alfred is an interesting choice. This will be a nice excuse to get Batman involved in this title. Lobo should provide for some good conflict and action. Snapper Carr was a surprise choice! Snapper is definitely little used character that many readers are not going to recognize. Snapper is a cool Silver Age character who was a long-time supporting characters her in the Justice League of America. I would love to see Snapper make an appearance. Of course, normally Snapper Carr would be considered a deep cut. However, Humphries goes to the deepest of deep cuts with the use of Angel and the Ape. Damn. I did not think we would be seeing this crazy 1960’s duo again. Seriously, check out this comic from the 1960’s. It is wild. Harley Quinn was the character that I found to be the least interesting of the bunch.
Humphries also delivers some excellent character work and dialogue. Monster Truck’s dialogue is easily my favorite dialogue in this issue. It is absolutely fantastic in all of its 1980’s action movie cheesiness. I loved every line.
Miguel also has a great external voice, too. Miguel sounds like a real teen-age boy. Humphries makes Miguel a character that the reader can easily related to and easily root for in this issue. What makes Miguel so great is that he has numerous character flaws. He makes dumb decisions. He is easily swayed by peer pressure. He is not a super genius that excels at his school’s STEM programs. But, Miguel also has great heart and bravery. And it is this combination that makes Miguel such an endearing character.
What is also impressive is that DC continues to hit home run after home run when it comes to creating diversity among its characters. And there has been no fan pushback when DC tried to create more diversity among their heroes. On the other hand, Marvel keeps striking out and creating massive fan pushback with their efforts to create diversity among their characters. And the reason for the difference between DC and Marvel has become quite obvious.
The simple reason is that DC does not focus at all on their new characters’ races or ethnicities. Instead, DC focuses on the story. DC delivers fun action and adventure super-hero stories. Period. The lead hero may happen to be of a certain race or ethnicity. But, the lead hero’s race or ethnicity is not the focus or the point of the story. The leader hero is never defined by their race or ethnicity. DC treats their new diverse characters as real individual people that are not defined by their race or ethnicity. This allows DC to roll out new diverse heroes who feel real. This also allows DC’s new diverse heroes to appeal to all readers regardless of the reader’s background. This then leads to zero fan pushback.
On the other hand, Marvel’s new diverse characters come across as unrealistic and fake. Marvel’s new diverse characters are all defined by their race or ethnicity. THis makes Marvel’s new diverse characters come across as unrealistic and fake. Marvel’s new diverse characters are presented in stories that feel like social justice sermonizing or stories that feel like public service announcements. The result is that the characters never feel real and are incredibly shallow. And this leads to serious fan pushback.
So, credit to DC for creating yet another awesome diverse new super hero that any reader can enjoy. Notice that at no point does DC have Humphries go on and on about Miguel’s ethnicity. Because it does not matter. DC understands that characters are so much more than their race or ethnicity and that their comics are all about superhero action and adventure. Marvel would have directed their writer to really focus on the ethnicity of the main character and make sure to really discuss that as a core attribute of the character. DC continues to put on a clinic while Marvel continues to shoot themselves in their foot.
I really like Miguel. I think that DC has another great new character in Miguel that has tons of potential. Miguel has that Luke Skywalker/Peter Parker vibe to him that will make him very likable and popular with any reader. Miguel is a wonderful lead that will appeal to a wide cross-section of readers.
I also like the Operator. What a cool and mysterious character. Humphries manages to get me excited to learn more about this character. And it was at the end of Dial H for Hero #1 when we meet the Operator that I finally got a Shazam vibe to this story. Billy and Miguel are similar characters. The Operator plays a similar role as the Wizard. And both boys are able to use either magic or a magical device to transform into powerful characters. This is a damn good formula.
Dial H for Hero #1 is not only an excellent story. Joe Quinones does a fantastic job with the artwork. Quinones’ style of art matches perfect with the youthful and fun vibe of Dial H for Hero. Quinones is able to deliver adrenaline pumping action scenes as well as emotion laden dialogue heavy scenes. Quinones does a nice job with the facial expressions of the characters which helps bring Humphries’ story to life. Quinones also clearly has a blast designing Monster Truck. Quinones is going to have a fun time drawing the various H-dial create superheroes.
The Bad: Humphries’ only swing and a miss in Dial H for Hero #1 is the Summer’s character. Summer is so one-dimensional and completely unlikable and annoying. This character needs a far more developed and nuanced personality. At this point, Summer is just an irritating caricature.
Overall: Dial H for Hero #1 is a fantastic start to this mini-series. This issue is easily the best offering from the Wonder Comics banner. Hopefully, the other Wonder Comics titles will learn something from Dial H for Hero #1 and tighten up their writing and offer better plotted and paced stories. I would absolutely recommend Dial H for Hero #1 to any reader regardless of age. This is a comic designed to appeal to anyone. After just a single issue I am ready for DC to make Dial H for Hero a regular ongoing monthly title rather than just a mini-series. Make it happen, DC!
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