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After facing the terrors of Abyss Dial H returns to takes some time out to do something a little bit different.
China Mieville takes a crack at writing a breather issue, or something that television has dubbed a “bottle episode”. There’s usually not much action or adventure, but when done right these types of stories can be as engaging as any other and still give insight. Suffice it to say that Mieville has done it right. The story might come off as a bit slow when compared to the events of its immediate predecessor but that does not stop it from still upholding the standard that fans of the series have come to expect.
You can bet that there is still a great amount of Dial H’s penchant for zany humor to be found within these pages. There is one gag in particular that takes a while to get going, but when it does it is worth it. The outlandishly delicious transformations are also still in full force, even though the main character himself just keeps one appearance throughout the issue. That the entirety of the story is completely confined to basically a living room and yet still able to be quite entertaining, like any good bottle episode should be, means shows that Mieville has once again hit the mark.
All of this is not to say that the issue was completely focused solely on the humorous side of Dial H. The title has contained within itself a surprising depth of mystery and intrigue since the very beginning and some new light is cast upon them here. There is some additional insight given not only into Manteau’s shady past, or to the Dial’s personal history, but also more importantly into the dangers of using the dial.
The dangers of using the dial is something that has been building up for quite some time and something which was given a whole new dimension with the Zero Month issue. The topic is reinforced here and given the propensity of our hero Nelson to turn to the Dial, made very ominous. There is trouble brewing on the horizon and Mieville is giving tantalizing hints along the way.
The art in this issue has been dropped into the hands of David Lapham this time around. Lapham displays a competent range of expression and form for this stand-alone story, even if his work does lack the raw vibrant life that former artist Mateus Santolouco was able to bring to the table. Overall this was a solid issue and a nicely calm relaxation from the hectic events of the first arc.