DC's H-Dial is back in service with the all-new Dial H for Hero limited series debuting this week. Writer Sam Humphries and artist Joseph A. Quinones Jr. are on like a party line, dialing up metahuman identities for a new DC character, Miguel.
Miguel crossed paths with superheroes before when Superman saved him as just an innocent citizen in peril, but when he gets a hold of the H-Dial he gets to be the hero himself.
Mixing classic elements from the franchise with some new juice, Humphries and Quinones' six-issue Dial H for Hero debuts March 27 - and the duo talked with Newsarama about this new iteration, the different art styles Quinones will be using, and how many classic Dial-H users they're bringing back.
Newsarama: Sam, Joe, how did your collaboration for this title come about? Sam, did you pitch the series for DC Comics or did DC come to you?
Sam Humphries: None of the above Brian Michael Bendis came to me, and he said, “Dial H for Hero” and I said, “really?” because I had very little exposure to Dial H for Hero. But I had been talking to him as he was coming over to DC and he was telling me about the imprint he was going to do and how it was going to focus on younger characters, and I thought that was perfect. I thought it was a great win all around.
So he said Dial H for Hero, and that was the last thing I expected anyone to say to me. But he said go back, read it, you’ll get it. So with that in mind I went back to the previous runs, and I said okay I get it. I started plugging into it, and all of the sudden started seeing the characters, the theme, the stories, and the potential there that’s wrapped up in the H-Dial.
Joseph A. Quinones Jr.: So I came in after that. I’d been talking to Andy Khouri, who is an editor over there at DC. He was at the formation of Wonder Comics with Brian. He was helping putting all these books together, and at the same time we were talking separately about me coming over to DC to do a book, to do any book.
We were trying to figure out what might be good, and then this came along and he told me. I thought it sounded really cool. He told me Brian would be overseeing it and Sam would be writing it. And I know Sam, we’ve been friends for a while. We’ve wanted to work together for a long time so it just felt really good. After hearing he was associate with it, and hearing the cool pitch for it sounded like a lot of fun.
Humphries: When Joe accepted the job that’s when the book and the concept itself dialed the H-Dial and became so much more than what it was in that moment. Joe is a super power on this book for sure.
Nrama: What makes your version of H-Dial different from other iterations?
Humphries: First of all, there’s me and Joe. We’re new to it. But one of the great things I loved about Dial H for Hero right off the bat is that based in the actual premise, locked into the actual concept is that every issue you get at least one new superhero, which is a really cool way to always keep the audience on their toes and hit the reader with the unexpected.
It’s like getting a license from DC to go absolutely crazy with the concept of superheroes. So when I was thinking of that and what it would be like for the characters to use the H-Dial and how that would transform them. I wanted to expand that and magnify that so every time a character would use the H-Dial and transform that the experience reading Dial H for Hero that the reader would change as well. I wanted to make that transformation happen for the reading experience too.
So you see that in the first issue when Miguel transforms into Monster Truck. It’s not just Miguel who gets a new name, powers, and costume, but Joe’s art style also changes, the coloring changes, the lettering style changes, the narration style changes. Joe signs each page like Rob Liefeld. But also the storytelling changes, the action changes, the layout change. The entire comic itself, every piece of the comic that we touch changes along with the H-Dial. I thought that was not just a fun, cool thing to do, but a powerful thing to do that I don’t think we’ve seen before in comics at this level.
In the first issue you see Monster Truck and we are synthesizing one style of superhero comics, but it’s not limited to superhero or even American comics. Every issue we are upping the ante of how many styles we can bring in and how we combine them and remix them and put them into conflict with each other.
Quinones: Right, you as the reader is experiencing the change that Miguel is experiencing. Moreover than that, it’s just the way for us to have fun with the medium of comics. We love comics, and have been fans since we were kids. It’s a way to pay homage to the stuff that cemented our interest to be here in the first place.
Nrama: What can you tell us about Summer and Miguel’s dynamic? Will Summer dial H?
Humphries: It is the central core of the book so you may think it’s a no, but I will neither confirm or deny anything for their future. There dynamic is really interesting to us because they are both stuck in bad family situations in a small town. They both yearn for the same thing, which is transformation and escape.
It’s been really fun for them to get this extreme surge of freedom and power all at once, and see how they react to it in different ways. And also see how they react to the responsibility and the fear that comes with that being that they are still just teenagers. They’re on this road trip, driving this massive food truck and they don’t even have driving licenses.
Nrama: I feel bad for whoever is on the road with them.
Quinones: They have a brick tied to the gas pedal.
Nrama: Can you tell us about some of the H-Dial identities that Miguel takes on from a writing and art perspective?
Humphries: This is the thrill – to see a comic book transform in your hands, and the thing that I’m bouncing up and down from my chair and that I’m excited about is that people think they know what Joe Quinones is all about from an art perspective and they have no idea that Joe has been sitting on all of these other art styles and he’s been waiting to deploy them like arrows from Green Arrow’s quiver. I love what Joe has been able to pull off. He’s the perfect artist for this approach. I can’t think of anyone who can master it the way he does. I can’t wait for him to blow everyone’s minds away.
Quinones: I think we can say what we are doing in the next issue. Yeah?
Humphries: Yeah, let’s tell her.
Quinones: So we are doing manga. That’s a broad thing to say, but we are doing two different worlds within the manga-verse. The fun thing is seeing those two heroes in widely different styles, but very definably manga. They bounce off each other and change the world around them and then occupy the same space. It’s a really fun artistic challenge. I think it’s fun as a reader too just to read through the ways that character perspectives will change as well. Based on the manga books we are nodding to.
Humphries: In a lot of ways Joe and I have been preparing to collaborate on this book for years. This is from the years we have known each other and the super in depth, nerdy conversations where we were just like, “wasn’t that comic cool,” “that comic is so dope,” “that artist is great. I love him too.” And now we get the opportunity to explore that, pay homage to that, and show how much we love all these comics, creators, and art styles.
Nrama: Since Wonder Comics is Bendis’ imprint, how much do you get to collaborate with each other?
Humphries: Brian came up with the concept of Wonder Comics, and the idea of focusing on younger heroes. That’s something he’s had a ton of success with, and has made some amazing comics in the past. So having him on board to guide has been very instrumental.
You know the idea of maybe Lobo using the H-Dial in the past and what does that look like – that’s an idea that came straight from Brian. His input and guidance has been invaluable, but he also stepped back and said make this the comic you are feeling right now, the comic you’ll have fun with, and the comic you want to see in the world. So it’s been really great.
Quinones: I don’t work directly with Brian. We are sort of on some email chains together. I’ve worked with Brian before. But it’s more with Sam and I – we’ll hop on the phone and figure out general things we want to happen over the arc and more specific things we want to happen per issue.
Early on, we decided we wanted to do this thing where we wanted to homage different types of comics and not just American comics, but European comics, Japanese comics. Just sitting down, and figuring out exactly which ones we would pull from and why and where that would pay in was really fun to do.
Nrama: Would you like to crossover with the other Wonder Comics titles?
Humphries: Of course, we would love to crossover. Could you imagine what it would be like to see Tim Drake use the H-Dial? That sounds awesome to me.
Quinones: It’s so much fun to get into that mind space of these new characters and the new transformations – and to make sure it’s unique for that character. It’s not necessarily throwing darts at a dart board. The choices we are making and the styles we are drawn to are focused on who we want to have use the dial at that moment.
Humphries: In Wonder Comics we get in the habit both ways. Not only do we get to approach superhero storytelling from a new perspective, which you’ve already seen at work in Young Justice, Naomi, and Wonder Twins. We don’t forget to be connected to the DC Universe. All these books are in DC Universe continuity, and that’s where you get that page in the first issue where you see Lobo, Alfred, Harley Quinn, and Angel and the Ape – these are all characters that we are hinting, we are showing that there are untapped stories of the H-Dial there and all those characters that you see are of people who used the H-Dial before.
Nrama: Are we going to see some of the old H-Dial users in the series?
Humphries: Absolutely. We’re fascinated by this idea that the H-Dial has been bopping around for years at this point, and it’s not just the main protagonist of each run who have used the H-Dial but more and more people who have gotten their hands on the H-Dial and have gotten super powers for an hour. What that would do to a person? How that will affect the rest of their lives?
For some people they would feel like they peeked, and the rest of their lives could never live up to that one hour. It’s been driving them crazy. It’s making them more and more desperate. Some of these people come together in the Thunderbolt Club, and they all have one goal – which is to do whatever it takes to get their hands on the H-Dial again.
Some of them are so desperate that they represent a real danger to Miguel and Summer for as long as they have the H-Dial. So we will see people we know from the DC Universe that have used the H-Dial before, and we will also see the effects of the H-Dial on normal people in the DC Universe.
Nrama: Dial H for Hero is a limited series, but would you like to explore more from Miguel after the mini-series ends?
Humphries: Joe and I have so many ideas for Dial H for Hero that just aren’t going to fit in six issues, and also is an imprint that is all about potential. The sky is really the limit for both of them.
Quinones: You can’t just help get in the heads of these characters, and you just don’t want to let them go.
Nrama: Are there any other DC franchises you would like to tackle that you feel would be a good fit for Wonder Comics?
Humphries: Yes, and I can’t tell you what they are.
Quinones: Same answer.