Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dial H #13

I just tried this and it doesn't work. I probably should have used chalk instead of a Sharpie.

This is a comic book. That's a book with pictures and words. Pictures are visual representations of other visual things. Words are symbolic representations of abstract ideas or physical things. Words are composed of letters. Letters are merely symbolic pictures representing sounds. Sounds are symbolic noises representing things or ideas. Abstract ideas are things that your cat doesn't ever think about because it has no language and thus no way to internalize a thought about those things. Or perhaps it does think about things like hatred and arrogance but since it doesn't have language, it has no way to represent these ideas internally or externally. How would we think differently if we weren't taught language when we are young? I suppose nobody would spend any money on therapists.

What am I talking about? Why aren't I writing my commentary as I usually do? Maybe the Dial I drew on my wall actually worked! I'm losing myself in another voice! But I'm still kind of here as well! I need something like Manteau's cloak to keep me grounded in my normal identity!

Yeah, that'll work. Also, displaying proudly my shirt that declares I'm not illiterate!

Now that I don't have to worry about losing myself in whatever super hero I'm channeling, I can begin reading the comic book!

I will be scanning the first page because it is a marvelous rendering of childhood pictographs. But because I just inserted a picture a scant few lines above what you are currently reading, I feel the need to vamp for a bit to increase the negative space between visual representations of the story. Most of these sentences filled with words and letters are merely filler anyway. It is the revelation of the monthly plot that you are most likely interested in because it will save you two dollars and nintety-nine cents to get the information from me. By the way, money is a symbolic representation of perceived value. Since it is highly unlikely that anybody will be willing to part with four pints of beer directly for your ability to interpret tax law, money acts as an intermediary proof that you have performed valuable services for somebody somewhere and are, in fact, due four pints of beer. The man pouring your four pints of beer will receive money from the man selling the four pints of beer for the service of inebriating a good percentage of the city. But since not everybody in the city is an inebriate, the tender of the bar probably cannot get his toilet unclogged by directly pouring beer for the plumber. Yes, it's highly probably that that exchange will actually work. But perhaps if the tender of the bar needs his prostate examined, he would be better off exchanging currency.

Although the term "currency" brings up an interesting tangle, especially since I invoked the medical profession. Here money is rarely exchanged and we, as citizens, generally get by with insurance cards. To gain an insurance card, we continuously pay an insurance company in exchange for paying exorbitant fees to the medical professionals. Interestingly enough, the insurance companies pay much smaller fees for the same procedures that would drive us into bankruptcy if we had to pay with currency from our own pockets. Occasionally, an insurance company that we have been loyal to for many years, giving them many of our dollars and cents, decides we aren't worth their help and they terminate our relationship just when we need them most. Many people in our country argue violently to maintain this lopsided relationship in which they have no power because they believe the rhetoric that nationalized healthcare will wind up with people not being treated. And most people would rather not be treated by medical professionals because they can't afford it than to not be treated by medical professionals in a hypothetical situation that will never actually come to pass.

Okay, that's enough negative space. Here's the first page of this comic book that is simply adorable and chilling at the same time. Like a baby dressed as a shark!

It's Captain America's origin story!

Open-Window Man is observing this chalk scene representation of an event that happens on every world he's been to. And he finds, every time, he's too late to do anything about it. Was Open-Window Man the orphan on his world? Did the same thing happen to him? And when the American flag flew in the open window, did he just see the event differently than Captain America saw it? So instead of seeing an American flag as a symbol to terrify those that would scoff at laws, Open-Window Man saw an opportunity to transport himself, like the American flag, from outside to inside! Exactly what a hero would want to be able to do! Who in their right mind would want to be the American flag?!

As Open-Window Man watches the chalk figure boy cry his eyes out over his dead parents (remembering all the while that these chalk figures are merely representations of a thug murdering a man and a woman without a pearl necklace), the chalk boy begins speaking to him (so forget that part about remembering these figures being a representation!). It asks for his help and then the conversation is interrupted by the title of this comic book, "Tekel Upharsin."

Being that I don't know Hebrew, I decided to consult Lord Google who I was assured knew Hebrew! But he knew it too well and kept expecting me to understand the meaning of the pictorial representations of the sounds of the language. He even offered to let me hear the sounds uttered but I didn't think that would do me any good. So instead, I donned on my swamp pants and waded into Wikipedia. Wikipedia told me that the phrase "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin" was written on the wall of Babylonian King Belshazzar's palace during a drunken orgy where some sacred vessels stolen from a Solomon's Temple were totally Two Girled, One Cupped. The literal translation seems to just be a list of measures of currency but the interpreted translation meant that Babylon was fucked.

Let me interrupt myself for a second to say, "Holy fucking shit. I can't believe all my bullshit on symbols and language and currency actually ended up being perfect commentary for the title of the comic book that I had yet to read." I now return you to the not-so-regularly scheduled reading.

Anyway, the "Tekel Upharsin" stuff seems to be the etymology of the term "the writing on the wall." I think that's what China Mieville is getting at. Imminent doom! As in, this fucking book has been cancelled, bitches!

As the graffiti story continues with Open-Window Man watching, I realize Open-Window Man probably caused the American flag that Captain America takes inspiration from. Being that the American Flag came in through an open window and Open-Window Man is watching Captain America's life pass him by, it makes sense that he would help him in some, small ways. Also, he's probably watching the Preboot Captain America!

A bunch of other DC heroes can hear and see them too! Like Scarlet Witch and Iron Man and Thor and Thunderbolt and Moon Knight too!

While Open-Window Man helps train little Captain America, Nelson and Roxie and the rest of the Dial Bunch hang out and watch other Graffiti heroes or talk Dial Politics or chat about the inclement orange weather. They're also trying to get their hands on a Dial that Captain Random stole from The Fixer when The Fixer came to turn off Captain Random's Dial. This is a J-Dial. A Jump Dial. It's used to travel between worlds and Captain Random's stealing it as she died caused The Fixer to lose her ability to travel easily between worlds. The Dial Bunch would like to get their hands on it so they can travel right to The Fixer's home and defeat her. But there's a singularly single problem that everybody has probably already guessed by now.

I could visit this planet with a full bladder and become their big company-wide crossover supervillain: The Piss Eraser!

Open-Window Man continues to train little Captain America as he explains to him why they need to stop The Fixer and her romantic interest The Human Centipede. Little Captain America wonders how they know The Human Centipede is going to do bad things. So Open-Window man describes the movie and its sequel to him and Little Captain America agrees they must be stopped. But he's still too nice so Open-Window Man hatches the plan I knew he would hatch because Master Comic Book Reader over here!

I hope he drew the American flag correctly as it came through the open window!

This issue is all about explication. Occasionally comic books resort to a story like that, perhaps because a writer is leaving and he wants to lay down some history no matter how horrible it turns out (as in Superboy with Scott Lobdell and his explanation of Harvest). And sometimes it's done so beautifully, it makes you want to weep all the way back to when you were fourteen and Marilyn Mendoza told you she doesn't like being stared at as she walked past you in the library during lunch (as in this issue. This one. Right here).

Open-Window Man also explains who his friends are.

Ejad is my favorite.

Open-Window Man is a hero and not a Dialer. And Bansa, the last of the Dial Bunch, used to be a Dialer until she realized she was stealing powers and was getting heroes killed. Her use of the Dial resulted in Boy Chimney's death. And when she found Open-Window Man to apologize and be punished, he instead joined forces with her to stop any more trouble from Dials and The Fixer. And then Open-Window Man tells his Origin.

How has this been cancelled while Scott Lobdell's excrement continues to sell well? It's sad that familiar characters rather than well told stories sell comic books.

The Dial Bunch seem to be at an impasse. They cannot retrieve the J-Dial because it is merely graffiti on a wall. And Open-Window Man doesn't understand this world because there are no windows. But Little Captain America points out that there are indeed windows. Right there. Drawn right on the walls. And suddenly Open-Window Man knows how to get the Dial. He has Nem G-Dial a bus with windows and Open-Window Man climbs through the passenger side window and out of the window of a graffiti house! He figured it out! Just like Batman would have! I mean, just like Captain America would have!

Why isn't the female hero doing the Boob-Butt Showcase? This world is weird!

Turns out Open-Window Man didn't draw anything flying through anything else. While Little Captain America slept, Open-Window Man was drawing him a Captain America Cave. But once Little Captain America sees it, he doesn't want it because it doesn't belong there. He loves it and thinks it's neat but it shouldn't exist. So Open-Window Man wipes it clean. And I bet it's the action of Open-Window Man wiping the chalk clean that gives Little Captain America his inspiration to become The Eraser! Except that's just speculation on my part. We'll have to wait until the The New 52's Eighth Wave when The Eraser comes out.

Dial H #13 Rating: +3 Ranking. This issue was just all kinds of awesome. Stupid readers not supporting it.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Just wow. Now that's how you write and produce a comic. Lovely story, and my favorite panel would also have to be the ones with the different dial finders. That's one-shot in and off itself.