With "Dial H" solidly into its second major story arc, China Mieville is joined by guest artist David Lapham for "Dial H" #7, as Nelson and Roxie scour the globe for a second Dial to replace the one that was destroyed. This issue is more than just a simple search, though, and in doing so it ends up a reminder of why more people should be reading "Dial H."
Mieville continues the concept introduced earlier on why Roxie always dresses up as the superhero Manteau even though she's a different hero underneath her mask and namesake robe. We're starting to see how using the Dial repeatedly can begin to submerge the user's personality in favor of the new persona, and an underwater tangle between a whale and the Planktonian brings all of that to a head.
We're also starting to see more of the history of the Dials, with modern-day cults centered around the devices, as well as a plunge into a remote and hard-to-reach location of the planet where a Dial might still be hidden. What's nice about this is that it's not only making the backstory of "Dial H" feel that much richer and more interesting, but it also indicates to me that we're seeing a much larger storyline continuing to unfold. At the same time, there's still lots of smaller conflicts to keep the month-to-month fun strong. The new villain the Centipede is a good example of that; he has a small connection to the last storyline but at the same time is still new and has his own agenda, and with a power that is inventive and formidable.
Lapham's guest art is a slight change of pace from the look and feel that we've had up until now, but it still is enjoyable. It's a cleaner and more defined look than we've had up until now on "Dial H," and he's at best when tackling the weirdness that the Dial seems to revel in conjuring up. The Tree Knight looks suitably odd, for instance, and the Planktonian ends up getting an incredibly cool appearance. It's ironically Nelson and Roxie who end up looking slightly off here; they're both a bit blockier and clunky than anyone else in the comic (including the plain-clothes villains). Still, his depiction of the Centipede's powers (which ultimately explain his otherwise odd code name) makes Lapham's time on the book well worth it.
"Dial H" #7 is another issue in a slightly odd, slightly offbeat, but completely fun and refreshing series. This is a book that deserves huge sales and a much larger readership. If you haven't read "Dial H" up until now, "Dial H" #7 actually serves very well as a jumping-on point. Try this issue of "Dial H" out, you not only won't regret it, you'll get hooked.