Dial H for Here We Go Again

Six years ago, when the New52 sent out its second wave, I covered the first issue of China Miéville's Dial H series (read it HERE). Since then, I've become a big fan of his novels, so revisiting the series should be interesting. It's been a while, so let's recap a few things.

The book returns to (now industrial) Littleville, where Robby Reed originally used the Dial. The protagonist, Nelson Jent, is an overweight, unemployed smoker, who would still try to help a friend in need when push comes to shove. The Dial has been re-imagined too: It's now a disused phone booth in a dark alley. It has no dial tone, does not work, and its dial looks like a normal one. The first time Nelson gets into it, he instinctively dials H-E-R-O (or 4376), possibly because he's trying to save someone. Transformations last for 2 or 3 hours, Nelson can't be sure the hero's personality and thoughts seem to be overlaid over Nelson's, which confused him. His thoughts are separate from the hero's, but he can assert control over the hero's actions and speech, either consciously, or sometimes accidentally. There is no guarantee he even knows what his heroic personality is talking about. After his first transformation back to Nelson, he passes out, so dialing may be physically as well as mentally taxing. That's what we know from issue #1. #2 presents 8 more identities, the first five only briefly as he does some "research" on the phone booth's abilities. We'll cover only those for now (four of them made the cover!).

Case 80: Dial H #2
Dial Holders: Nelson Jent
Dial Type: Phone booth Dial
Dialing: While transformations at first seemed to be accompanied by effects related to the hero, this side-effect has calmed down. Now, when Nelson changes, the phone booth flashes with a greenish white light, and the hero comes out accompanied by pale smoke. He claims that sometimes, if he uses it again and again, too quickly, it stops working. But it recharges after an unspecified amount of time.
Name: Human Virus (not entirely heroic, but it works)
Costume: A green leotard with a biohazard symbol on the chest and lots of squirming tendrils. These do not appear to come out of his actual skin, which is yellowish-gray, except for his face, which sports a bone-like mask.
Powers: Presumably, this hero is a living petri dish and can infect others with all manner of quick-acting diseases (like Infectious Lass). The tendrils on his costume are possibly the delivery method, though the comic's cover shows a special effect coming off his hand.
Sighted: In Littleville, walking out of a phone booth (adventure, if any, unknown).
Possibilities: An anti-hero at best, the Human Virus was obviously created in a lab accident, though the tendriled suit may mean he's made something he's proud to wear! Perhaps it was meant to shrink down so he could access cells directly, manipulate viruses and the like, but he ran out of dwarf star matter, or something went wrong, and he was transformed by a virus, becoming a sort of macro-virus in the regular-sized world. From there, he becomes a very weird vigilante who gives criminals colds, malaria, and/or herpes.
Integration Quotient: 65% (strange enough to find an unoccupied niche)
Name: Shamanticore (a crazy pun)
Costume: Just an off-white robe with plenty of folds. It's the rest of him that's distinctive. He has a lion's head, a scorpion's tail, and human hands with long fingernails. He bears a staff topped with a five-point star.
Powers: Presumably, a mix of shamanistic magic and animal attributes (teeth, claws and scorpion sting).
Sighted: In Littleville, walking out of a phone booth (adventure, if any, unknown).
Possibilities: As the concept screams Mythic Greece, this is one of those odd characters you'd put in an Extraordinary Gentlemen team from that era. With magic, you don't have to lot to answer for.
Integration Quotient: 30% (it's not like that era has been explored much, so what are the chances it would?)
Name: Pelican Army (a name for a group, oddly pointing to a single man WITH a pelican army... but a reference to the Pelican Regiment in the Civil War?)
Costume: A Napoleonic-era European soldier in red, with lots of medals and a tall black hat that has a gold pelican on it. He has a brown beard and white eyes. Oh, and also a flock of pelicans following him.
Powers: Presumably, this dude has an army of pelicans at his command. Sort of "The Birds" personified.
Sighted: In Littleville, walking out of a phone booth (adventure, if any, unknown).
Possibilities: Another Extraordinary Gentleman type, so we can explain the uniform? If I understood the reference or could identify the country of origin, I might place him in the Global Guardians or whatnot. So let's just go with an oddball from the turn of the 19th Century who trains pelicans to help him in battle.
Integration Quotient: 10% (there's no call to explore the DCU's Napoleonic era)
Name: Double Bluff (pretty good, but no headliner)
Costume: On the right side, he is a classic stage magician in a black suit and tails, with a thin mustache. On the left side, he wears a burgundy smoking jacket and domino mask, and is otherwise hairless with chalk-white skin. Playing cards spin around his head.
Powers: Presumably, magic, but his shticks might all be based on stage magic. Those cards can be telekinetically thrown, and so on.
Sighted: In Littleville, walking out of a phone booth (adventure, if any, unknown).
Possibilities: We need to explain his bizarre look. Stage magician decides to give his act a boost by trying his hand at real magic. He summons some extradimensional entity that accidentally merges with him. Now, as Double Bluff, they share an existence of stagecraft and superheroics, protecting our world from demonic invaders.
Integration Quotient: 75% (it works, but the name feels tonally wrong)
Name: Hole Punch (take a look inside your pencil case, start designing superheroes)
Costume: Gray boxer's trunks with the world "HOLY" sewn on the belt, and red wristbands the color of his hair on each of his three arms, which are tipped with metal hammers. His musclebound form has gray skin and pointy ears.
Powers: Presumably, Hole Punch is strong and tough to best make use of his three hammered arms. If his name bears some truth, each hammer probably has sharp edges.
Sighted: In Littleville, walking out of a phone booth (adventure, if any, unknown).
Possibilities: This mutated cyborg probably underwent surgery voluntarily to take part in some extreme ultimate fighting. Being a good, church-going guy, he's always finding himself in a position to help people from his neighborhood and stuff.
Integration Quotient: 75% (Roulette has a spot for him, I'm sure)

Next: Identities he ACTUALLY used in issue 2.



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