Dial H is a book unlike anything else at DC Comics right now… or anything else at Marvel Comics right now, or anything else I can recall reading anywhere. It's got a really strange tone that strikes a weird balance between heady metaphysical darkness and straight-up goofball nuttiness, and it never lets you get entirely comfortable with either. It's absolutely crazy, however, and that's why we love it. We must never forget the mighty nature of Pelican Army. Dial H #4 might be the most straightforward expository issue yet, and it still breaks our brains.
This issue centers around The Squid, the weird lizard-dude antagonist whose fingers can spray any kind of poisonous concoction he can think of. He's been working with Ex Nihilo, who has now captured Manteau, the mysterious masked woman who has been acting as a mentor for Nelson Jent, the dumpy bloke who's gotten mixed up in all of this madness by finding the magic hero-dialer and having his best friend killed by the aforementioned Squid. Whereas before, it seemed as though Squid was the boss-man of the two, the tables have turned, and Ex Nihilo, or X.N. as she's alternately called, has taken the lead in trying to summon Abyss, a being made of nothing. It seems Squid comes from The Unplace, where wild nothings roamed free and hunted each other, and his people were void wranglers aka null-herders aka hole-whisperers. But this Abyss was a very special nothing that Squid took under his wing and swiped jewels with because Abyss liked shiny facets – it eats light, you see. It eats starlight. It can eat suns. And now it's here, confused, rampaging and it has hurt Squid, which makes him rethink working with X.N. Thus, he turncoats and fills Jent in on things, heping him rescue Jent's fellow dial-wielder Manteau, who turns out to be an old lady.
So as you can see, it's fairly batshit even when it's being forthcoming, and we wouldn't have it any other way. China Miéville's wild tale is just different. Refreshingly different, with very beautifully irreverent artwork from Mateus Santolouco that's just as good at capturing that oddball tonal balance as Miéville's script is. In the midst of this otherworldly sentient absence stuff comes the appearance of Tap-Out, a crazy faucet-themed hero with a knob on her head. We even get the dial-deprived Jent coming up with his own superhero get-up and calling himself Rescue Jack, as seen above.
It's hard to believe something as inherently perplexing as Dial H exists within DC's New 52, but it does, and you should buy it so it will continue to exist there. It may be an acquired taste, but it's well worth the effort so far.