Dial H for a Heap of Trouble

This stand-alone story shows Miéville has a lot of love for the original comics. Nelson and Manteau are now sharing one Dial, taking turns, and he's dialed what she calls "Refuseniks", identities that should not come out in the sun either because they have awful powers, shameful costumes, or in Nelson's current case, are racist. Of particular interest to us, he's become Chief Mighty Arrow, the Native American stereotype (up to and including talking like a western caricature) Robby Reed dialed back in House of Mystery #166. Other Refuseniks mentioned include Doctor Cloaca, S.S. Ilsa, Captain Priapus, Kid Torture, and (jeepers) Golliwog. So Nelson is ordered to stay put unless there's a REAL emergency.

Case 84: Dial H #6
Dial Holders: Nelson Jent, Roxie Hodder
Dial Type: Phone booth Dials
Dialing: The phone booth dial (or at least, Roxie's repair job) does not allow the hero to "dial out". They basically ride out the transformation until it naturally goes away, which can be hours (it may be tied to power expenditure, which just extends Nelson's torture in this case). As has been noted before, identities can return (in this case, one of Robby's old ones, tying the Big Dial to this developing mythos). As with that transformation, it comes with a super-pet (Wingy the horse), who shows enough independence to take care of criminals without Chief Mighty Arrow's presence. The Dial plays with your head, and Manteau couldn't recognize herself in the mirror after a while. It's important not to fall asleep in a heroic identity, because dreaming someone else's dreams is traumatic. Manteau believes the Dials are from another dimension and that they mess with history when they arrive. What she means by that is unclear, but it could at least mean that the Dial Nelson found replaced the normal phone both that was there before. Dials have been on Earth since Antiquity, based on the archaeological evidence Manteau seems to have found.
Name: Chief Mighty Arrow (update)
Powers: We hear learn that the powers are in the headdress' feathers (previously, these HAD powers, but were only part of his arsenal; perhaps the headdress has a controlling influence on each of the artifacts?). In addition to what was seen before, he references explosive feathers (as opposed to explosive arrows or jet-propelled tickling feathers), Spirit of Waters arrows to douse fires, ladder arrows, and the ability to call up a whirlwind (with what is not said).
Sighted: In Littleville, stayed at home, but Wingy defeated hostage takers at an interfaith elders' conference by crapping on their heads from high up.
Name: ElectroCutie (cute pun, but non-cute condescension)
Costume: A sexy cocktail waitress outfit in electric blue, with fishnets and garters, booties with little lightning bolts on them, long gloves, lightning-shaped earrings, and a thunderbolt from cleavage to bellybutton. She wears a beehive hairdo.
Powers: Electrical projection.
Sighted: No. Stayed home.
Possibilities: My first thought is to create a Fishnets night club where Zatanna and rock star Black Canary perform (which they co-own), and put ElectroCutie in among the staff. She's not this big superhero, but she helps out when she can. (Fishnets definitely doesn't need a bouncer.)
Integration Quotient: 50% (while DC has a strong fishnet tradition, the name and look push the limit of what's appropriate)
Name: The Prime Mover (sounds cosmic!)
Costume: Armor at once mystical and high-tech, mostly in silvery blue, with elaborate asymmetrical shoulder plates. Her right arm ends in a blobby gun. She appears to have a spiky circular tatoo on her chest, and an "I"-shaped one crossing her left eye, which glows with power. Over her left breast, her armor is more ornate that the left side's, as if a broach were embedded in it.
Powers: Unknown, but Superman-level, and energy seems to be an important part of it. Anything between Captain Atom and actual reality-morphers like Doctor Manhattan.
Sighted: Unknown, but this was the last identity Manteau did not wear a mask over. She patrolled for hours.
Possibilities: Not of this world. The Prime Mover looks like she's from an Earth where magic is omnipresent (to me it evokes the Neil Gaiman creations used by Tekno Comix in the mid-90s. She would be part of that Earth's equivalent of the Justice League, and have reality-defining powers tapping into the Music of the Spheres itself. Stellar energy, gravity, quantum interactions, they're all hers to command, using a mix of technology and magic which would be this Earth's shtick.
Integration Quotient: 80% (I'm sure there's an Earth like that, but you might consider it cheating to call on it)
Name: Tugboat (sounds like a G.I. Joe character)
Costume: This large bearded man wears gray pants, a striped white camisole, and a boat captain's cap with an anchor on the front. You will know him by the small, smoking tugboats that have replaces most of his arms midway between the wrist and the elbow.
Powers: Presumably, great strength to better wield the heavy tugboats on his arms. He smashes opponents with them, and their chimneys spew smoke he can use to confuse and confound.
Sighted: Unknown. He might very well have stayed at home. All we know is that Nelson fell asleep in this identity and came to regret it. Whatever the identity had done in the past, his dreams were terrifying.
Possibilities: Another character I'd throw in the Ultimate Fighting circuit, because there's no way you'd get prosthesis like that unless it was part of a show. I'd even make them removable, so he could lead a normal life. But yeah, crazy wrestler/fighter with a heart of gold, who patrols the docks at night and leads criminals to prison.
Integration Quotient: 25% (the possibilities are narrow, but they're there)

Next: Did someone say Antiquity?

2 comments:

LondonKdS said...

The reference to a "Golliwog", and the general tone of the whole issue, has of course led most people to believe that this is issue is critiquing Alan Moore's claims to be "reclaiming" by using the Golliwogg character in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Siskoid said...

Do you think that holds any water?

 

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