The world of Brian Michael Bendis's Wonder Comics imprint got a little bigger today with the launch of Dial H for Hero, from writer Sam Humphries and artist Joe Quinones, Jr. The series, which centers on two young people who find an artifact that allows them to "dial up" super powers and physically transform into a wide variety of superheroes and -villains, is not a new concept to the DC Universe, but the last few times it has been launched, it has been done with a less playful feel. Will Pfeifer's fan-favorite H-E-R-O began with a story about a suicide help line, and China Mieville's New 52 version was just this side of Vertigo.
This time around, the book goes back to its roots, with the heroes -- Miguel and Summer -- sharing the dial and the DC Universe. The first issue reveals a number of former H-Dial users, ranging from Snapper Carr to Lobo to Angel and the Ape. "That page is really just a drawn version of a lift that Joe sent me when I was like, 'Okay, if you could draw anybody, who do you wanna draw?'" Humphries admits. Humphries and Quinones joined ComicBook.com to discuss the series, the first issue of which debuts today in stores and online. What makes it different from its predecessors?
Well, Humphries said that it was a couple of things. "One is that part of the legacy of Dial H for Hero that's so beautiful is that anybody can pick up the H-Dial and become a hero. Because of that, every run of Dial H for Hero has featured a different protagonist or different set of protagonists. So we're really fitting right in line with what is the legacy of Dial H for Hero. Legacy is what keeps the DC Universe growing and building and thriving, and it deepens the mythology. This book is right in line with the tradition of Dial H for Hero," he explained. "The other thing that comes to mind is that I would say this is anything but a traditional comic books, because one of the exciting things about Dial H for Hero is that it's in the content, it's in the actual title, that every issue, you get a brand new superhero. You get a brand new set of powers and a brand new costume, brand new codename, all that good stuff. But we thought, what if we could extend that transformation and make it bigger? What if we could somehow make the reader feel that transformation as well?"
"What we've done is that every time a character in the book uses the H-Dial and gets transformed into a superhero, the reading experience transforms as well," Humphries continued. "You saw that in the first issue with Monster Truck, right? When Miguel transforms into Monster Truck, the comic book transforms as well. Joe's art style transforms. Jordan Gibson's colors transform, the lettering style transforms, the way the narration works is transformed, the dialogue is transformed, the panel layouts are transformed, the storytelling...it's all transformed. This is something that we don't think we've really seen in comics for a long time, where you don't just watch the H-Dial. You feel the power of the H-Dial as a reader of the comic book."
The basic feel of this book -- that the characters and creators are having fun, but that the fun is not taking away from the capital-A artistry of it all, seems to be the guiding philosophy of Bendis's Wonder Comics, which also features titles like Young Justice, Naomi, and Wonder Twins. The Dial H team are digging it.
"It's fun to work on, 'cause it's a story, it's a world, that is seated in the larger DCU, but one where we have this freedom to kind of play in the sandbox without having expectations or sort of constraints like a Flash might have or a Batman might have," Quinones said. "The road's wide open ahead of us, which is a lot of fun with it."
"Like I was saying earlier, legacy is the beating heart of the DC Universe, and it's a core part of every major mythology in the DC Universe," Humphries added. "Some people, Dial H for Hero, they don't know about it, or they've barely heard about it, or they think it's not interesting or it's not important. Joe and I completely disagree. One of the ways we're showing that is by showing that yes, Dial H for Hero has legacy. It has a legacy just like the Bat-family does or Superman does or Shazam. Dial H for Hero fits into the DC Universe in a very primal way. To be able to go back to those previous runs and not just pay homage to them and honor them, but to take the elements they set up and build on them ... It makes our book even bigger."
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