Some people were born to be heroes. Others, were thrust into that world despite the fact that they came from the unlikeliest of backgrounds. Then there are those people who literally dialled in the chance to wield extraordinary powers and uphold justice for the common man. Way back in 1966, DC Comics introduced the idea of the H-Dial in Dial H For Hero, a mystical artifact that could imbue anyone who used it with incredible power.
Over the years, DC Comics has explored the idea of the H-Dial through several other series, often veering more towards the Twilight Zone with the device and turning it into a monkey’s paw whose wish-fulfilment abilities gives whoever wields it more than they bargained for. This year, the H-Dial is back in the hands of some new kids on the block, who truly want to be a hero that can inspire people in much the same way that DC’s heroes have raised the bar on what it truly means to be a symbol for all that is right.
Miguel is going to have his hands full though, as the legacy of the H-Dial is a shared one. Just how far will some people go to possess the H-Dial once again for a superpower high? Can Miguel and Summer survive against stacked odds in a world that doesn’t only transform them, but the very reading experience of the comic book itself?
Those were just some of the questions that I had for Dial H for Hero writer Sam Humphries, who was only to happy to dial in some answers for me at FanCon 2019. Here’s what he had to say about Dial H for Hero:
The H-Dial is back, but we’ve got new characters wielding its power in Dial H for Hero. Can you give us a quick breakdown on the protagonists of the series?
We have two new main characters in this book, named Miguel and Summer and these are young characters who both yearn for escape and yearn for transformation. That classic teenager way. They find an avenue for it in the H-Dial. Whether or not it’s going to give them the kind of escape and transformation that they’re looking for is another question, but it becomes a device that’s not just a super-heroic transformation but also about coming of age.
This is really in the grand tradition of Dial H for Hero. Every iteration of Dial H for Hero has featured new protagonists, going back to the second reinvention by Marv Wolfman. We knew coming into it, we had to create new characters, new protagonists and show off what the H-Dial looks like in this current age through these character’s eyes.
What about the H-Dial itself? Will we see more of its history revealed, considering how it has existed since the dawn of time in the DC Universe?
We do go into some of the legacy of the H-Dial, because legacy is the beating heart of the DC Universe. So we love Dial H for Hero and part of the reason why you do any book is because you want to show the rest of the world why this character is cool, why this content is cool. So to be able to connect the H-Dial to the central DCU concept of legacy was really important and exciting to us.
Already in the first two issues we’ve hinted at where those lines of legacy might be going, how we’re connecting those dots. In addition to all of the crazy new stuff we’re throwing into the book, we’re connecting it to the history of Dial H for Hero.
Dial H for Hero has had a long history in the DCU, with several other series being published over the years. How does this incarnation set itself apart from its predecessors?
Another way that this iteration of Dial H for Hero stands apart from the previous ones, is that we wanted to deliver a full and immersive Dial H for Hero experience. What that means is that when a character uses the H-Dial in the comic book, they become transformed, they become a superhero. But the transformation doesn’t stop there, it extends to the boundaries of the comic book itself.
When the character transforms, the comic book itself transforms, the reading experience transforms. In the first issue we saw Miguel dial the H-Dial for the first time and he becomes this superhero called Monster Truck. It looks very reminiscent of the amazing era of 90s superheroes. It wasn’t just a costume change and a code-name, our amazing artist Joe Quinones Jr. he changed his style of drawing to match that vibe. Our amazing colourist Jordan Gibson changed the colouring so that it looked like that early 90s colourised airbrushing technique. Our stellar letterer Jay Sharp changed his lettering, the dialogue, the captions.
I changed the way that the dialogue was written and the way the narration was written. Even just the storytelling, the way the way the layouts worked and how many panels were on a page. That’s just one example. We’re raising the bar of that craziness in each and every issue. Where we take it from here, just gets crazier and more elaborate as we slam various styles of comic books into each other.
Any particular eras in comic books that you can’t wait to show off?
I’m not going to say what they are, these are going to be some very good surprises, very big reveals and Joe, Jordan and Dave are just nailing it on the page when it comes to experimenting with different styles and different eras of comics books. We’re not just limited to different eras in time, we’re going overseas to different cultural interpretations of comic books.
We’re doing these homages because we love these comics. Joe, Jordan and I have all been friends for a long time and when you see a certain style, a certain homage in Dial H for Hero, just understand that it’s part of an ongoing conversation that Joe, Jordan and I have been having for years about what’s cool, what we love about comics. Now we finally get to put it on the page and dial H for Hero.
So who will see Miguel and Summer face off against in Dial H For Hero?
We do have a villain, we have Mr Thunderbolt. He’s a callback to the very first issues of Dial H for Hero. Whether he’s the actual Mr Thunderbolt from back then or if he’s just using the name and mantle, is a question we haven’t answered yet. So far, we’ve seen him run the Thunderbolt Club which is an online association of people who have used the H-Dial previously in their lives and for one reason or another they want to use it again.
They want to go back, some of them are desperate, some of them are ambitious and they all want to use it for different reasons. They’ve all come together to find the H-Dial wherever they may be and have that experience again. What would it be like if you used the H-Dial and became a superhero for an hour? You’d have to be an incredibly centered person, incredibly well adjusted for that not to be the highlight of your life.
That’s what the Thunderbolt Club represents, is people who will do anything to get their hands on the H-Dial.
Dial H for Hero is out right now, and will run for six issues. You can thank Sam Humphries, Joe Quinones Jr., Jordan Gibson and Jay Sharp for dialling up new Metahuman angles in this limited series from Wonder Comics.
Last Updated: May 22, 2019