So you're DC. Your New 52 relaunch has certainly been a sales success, but has divided your fanbase and generated very few critical successes. After a second wave launch of multiple new titles in 2012 one book that is getting plaudits is Dial H, a complex rejigging of the Dial H For Hero comic written by the acclaimed novelist China Miéville. Unfortunately sales while decent are not stellar (though it apparently sold well enough to be called "The New York Times Bestselling Series" on the cover. Hmm), and so despite all the praise you cancel the book forcing Miéville to wrap up what was obviously planned as a much longer plot arc in a couple of issues. Shame on you DC. So we come to the second and final volume of Dial H, which collects the last nine issues plus a fun, post series one shot from the Justice League series called "Dial E" as part of it's "Villains Month" intiative. The comics collected here are ridiculously textually dense, crammed with jokes, character moments, multiple twists and turns and I am having to summarise massively to keep this post from becoming a truly epic length, especially the second half of the book where it's obvious everything is having to happen in a big rush to let the book end on a definite and upbeat note. Probably the biggest casualties of this cut short run are the Dial Bunch, who were obviously designed to be explored in much greater detail than we get here. With that said then, let's crack on.
|Of all the Heroes they dial, Daffodil Host is my favourite|
|The Centipede's tricky time travel abilty in action|
Roxie and Nelson decide to test out the S-Dial. Nelson says he's been losing himself while H-Dialed so he'll be the sidekick. They become a handsome and beautiful hero couple and go and deal with a bank raid:
Nelson: "That surge again, that sudden knowledge of who I am.. And what I what I can do. But this time there's an undertow. Trust? Obedience? Whatever it is.. it's a relief!".
After they foil the raid, both of them are amped up about how well they worked togteher and suddenly Nelson plants a huge kiss on Roxie.
|Roxie and Nelson about to have a bad idea|
Nelson: "Oh God. What've I done? What was he doing when I took his powers?"
The Centipede meanwhile has managed to bring The Fixer to him. He tells him he wants to team up and that The Fixer missed a dial last time he was here (he had previously concluded that The Fixer has lost the ability to travel easily between dimensions and had to use something like The Abyss from book 1 as a way to reach Earth). Roxie and Nelson meanwhile ponder the dial and wonder if the reason The Centipede didn't change when he dialled was because it didn't see him as a hero. They are interupted by The Fixer and The Centipede suddenly appearing. Nelson, still as the Flash, grabs Roxie and runs, ending up in Australia. He then changes back, and The Fixer and The Centipede show up to attack them again, The Centipede grabs the H-Dial and tells The Fixer to deal with them.
|Nelson as The Flash|
The Centipede arrives on the scene and Open Window Man knocks him out of the building. He then ports Roxie and Nelson through one window and out the next, travelling to the bottom of the building where The Centipede is. The Fixer shows up as do a whole gang of Dialers called The Dial Bunch. Using a portal they send The Fixer and The Centipede back to where The Fixer came from. Although as this was where The Centipede wanted to go anyway, there is likely to be more trouble in store.
|The Dial Bunch to the rescue!|
Open Window Man: "We been fighting the Fixer, who killed Captain Random, for years. It's too tough to kill. We thought we'd got rid of it a while ago, but we made a mistake. Sent something with it, something we need to stop."
Captain Random was the hero of this world, and owner of the J-Dial. He explains that without the J-Dial they have to take backdoors through dimensions. Same way The Fixer travels. As they have journeyed they have come across evidence of multiple genocides with The Centipede's mask cast-offs proving he was involved.
|Flashback to Baansa finding Open Window Man.|
Open Window Man: "We hunt the Fixer who ends those who use these broken machines for justice. Like your Captain Random. And we hunted for new comrades. Became the Dial Bunch."
All the dials had been scattered through time and dimensions by a massive war in the Exchange. To get to the Exchange they need the J-Dial. The grafitti person then points out his world has windows and Open Windown Man has an idea. He gets Nem to summon something with a window and travels through it into the graffiti world and gets a hold of the J-Dial. He returns with it and as the Dial Bunch make to leave, the graffiti person thanks Open Window Man for inspiring him to carry on the good fight, him being the graffiti worlds equivalent of a hero.
|The graffitti world|
They are on a world saving the froglike inhabitants from a monster. This worlds has been taught to beware of dialers because of a "war". Ejaad has also been killed here
They can't make the J-Dial qwork, so are still travelling via "frayed" spots in reality. They arrive in a world being consumed by water and are attacked as being the cause. When they explain they aren't they open another hole in reality and take the few inhabitants of that world with them. But the hole closes before Nem and Yaaba can get through.
They are attacked again on this new world, by a strange, mechanical alien that lives there. He threatens to hurt the civilians they have with them, so they surrender.
Alien: "Why did you come here? You think we'll let you steal powers again? By Torque and Attrition, I remember the war. And I will not allow you to restart it."
|The big giant head of The Operator|
They are greeted by The Centipede, they battle him and beat him doqwn but Fixer arrives and grabs Nelson and takes him back into the Exchange building. An edifice with many huge wires leading into it.
Baansa: "Wires channeling an infinity of worlds. Ripped out of eternity. Ruined by war"
Nelson asks the Centipede why he is helping O. The Centipede replies that when the H-Dial refused to work for him, judging him not a hero, he decided he wanted something else. An E-Dial, EVIL. And O has made him one. Nelson then wants to know why Fixer is helping O. He tells Nelson about the war. How this was a world of diallers, and people in other worlds became afraid of them when their dials stole powers rather than copied them. The worlds got together and attacked the Dial world, and it was destroyed apart from the Exchange where 0 created the D-Dial to take revenge on those worlds.
Fixer: "Perhaps it was our enemies portals making the exchange bleed. Or 0's amplifying machines destabilising realities and chronologies. Or our terror. Or the strength of our attacks. But what happened was like nothing that had before."
There was an explosion that scattered dials through time, space and reality. Fixer had been loyal to a dead world, one that 0 helped kill.
Roxie reprograms a H-Dial with crossed wires inside. This allows Nelson to transform into heroes that are a combination of each other, and means 0 can't turn his dial off. 0 uses an amplifier instead to grow huge. Nelson keeps battling him to distract him while Roxie enters the Exchange and starts working on crossing the huge wires powering the Exchange. This results in a build up of pressure that causes 0 to explode, also taking out the top of the Exchange where Roxie and Open Window Man managed to escape from just in time. But not the Centipede who was trying to stop them. They survey the aftermath.
|Nelson keeps O distracted|
But it is the end of it. That's the final issue of Dial H alas. It wasn't quite the end of The Centipede though, who survived the explosion at the Exchange. He showed up in Justice League #23.3 as part of Villains Month, chasing up his E-Dial which had fallen through reality into the hands of a gang of teenagers using it to create heroes. The issue is most notable for having each page drawn by a different artist and ending with the Centipede getting knocked out by a dimensionally travelling hero called Rescue Jill.
|The Operator and the Exchange go Boom|