I told you what kind of party Dial H was going to be with its first issue. It is still that kind of party, because of Pelican Army.
Sure, I could tell you what happens in this issue, as the confused and portly Nelson Jent continues trying to solve the problem his best and only friend is mixed up in. I could mention the disturbingly creepy and erratic new antagonist named The Squid who is half-erudite and half-thuggish and all nasty, even to his supposed cohort Ex Nihilo. I might also note the arrival of a mysterious third party, a cloaked, masked red-haired woman who fights Jent at first, then comes around to realize she needs to school the man.
But really, the reason to read Dial H is the whacked-out superhero concepts that writer China Miéville is cranking out. Such as Pelican Army. PELICAN ARMY. PELICAN ARMY!
You see him in the image above. Long Amish beard, old-timey French soldier uniform, in command of a battalion of waterfowl. He's only in one panel on the first page as a throwaway joke, showing us Jent running a bunch of tests on the mysterious rotary-dial phone booth that gives him the ability to transform into various weird super-identities – all of which stick in his mind even after they wear off physically. "I wish I could forget being Rancid Ninja," Jent laments to himself at one point. However, if Pelican Army doesn't make a larger appearance at some point, that's something I will lament to the world at large.
Last issue, we saw Boy Chimney, The Child King of Emissions and Captain Lachrymose. In Dial H #2, we see Shamanticore, Double Bluff, Hole Punch, the Human Virus, Skeet, Control-Alt-Delete (whose head is a monitor and whose face is made up of emoticons) and The Iron Snail, who is essentially G.I. Joe with a gigantic snail shell strapped to his back and rolling on a tank tread. This stuff is batshit. Wonderfully, wonderfully batshit.
It remains to be seen if Miéville can keep up the imaginative madness or if he'll lose steam several issues down the line, but for now, it's a joy to read, and the sight of Pelican Army made me decide I'm going to love this series. Mateus Santoluoco has a hell of a job in front of him in making these character designs come to life, but he does it perfectly, setting these wildly insane concepts in a murky and dark world, bringing us a balance between the ridiculous and the dramatic.
If you like the weird stuff like MODOK and the Bi-Beast, you'll probably enjoy the heck out of Dial H.