Archive for Dark Horse Presents

Beware the Jabberwock, My Son!

Snarked #10

While the kingdom slides into bankruptcy and tyranny, the Gryphon has taken over the Mad Hatter’s pirate ship, and Queen Scarlett, Prince Rusty, Wilburforce J. Walrus, Clyde McDunk, the king, and the crew are stranded on Snark Island. Scarlett and Rusty wander off in the night, the Walrus and the Carpenter follow them, and the Gryphon constructs his secret weapon — a mechanical Jabberwock! Can everyone manage to escape? Or will they all fall prey to… a Boojum?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love anything with a Jabberwock in it. And beyond that, it’s a fun story, good art, lots of humor, and even some fairly ominous mystery.

Daredevil #15

Dr. Doom’s underlings have exposed Daredevil to nanobots that have robbed him of all of his senses. But some of his senses seem to be coming back — including sight, which he lost when he was a child. When he finally manages to escape, he takes to the roofs to try to escape Doom’s underlings, but with his senses scrambled and confused, does he have a chance of escape?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art, great story, good characterization and suspense. I’m always amazed by how very, very good this comic is.

Dark Horse Presents #14

A extra-long comic — heck, it’s actually a double comic! You read one half, then flip the comic over to read the other half! As always, some good stuff, some not so good stuff, but the work that impressed me the most included: Bo Hampton and Robert Tinnell’s spooky “Riven,” Nate Cosby and Evan Shaner’s madcap “Buddy Cops,” Kim W. Andersson’s creepy “Love Hurts,” John Laymon and Sam Kieth’s “Aliens: Inhuman Condition,” Carla Speed McNeil’s always excellent “Finder: Third World,” Tony Puryear, Erika Alexander, and Robert Alexander’s “Concrete Park,” and short gag comics by Mike Russell, Patrick Alexander, and Jim Benton.

Verdict: Thumbs up. When it rocks, it rocks.

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Ghost to Ghost

Dark Horse Presents #13

This month’s highlights include Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto rebooting Ghost for the era of paranormal reality TV; Carla Speed McNeil’s always-amazing “Finder: Third World”; John Layman and Sam Kieth looking at android psychology in the ongoing battle against xenomorph aliens; John Arcudi and Jonathon Case’s deformed detective in “The Creep”; Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten sending the heroes of “Criminal Macabre” up against a horde of werewolves; and much, much more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fun stuff this time, particularly “Finder,” “The Creep,” and “Aliens.” The “Ghost” reboot was interesting, at least for a first chapter. There were a few stinkers in this issue, too, but on the whole, it’s still worth reading.

Alabaster: Wolves #3

Dancy Flammarion has a new benefactor — the ghost of the werewolf girl she killed in the first issue! She drags her out of the burning church and helps nurse her back to health, but Dancy doesn’t trust her. She demands answers to her questions about her former guardian angel, and Dancy tells her about the time the angel guided her to a werepanther she had to kill, and about the panther’s cruel owner.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good, creepy fun. Moody, good dialogue, excellent characterization. I loved this all the way through.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Devil’s Engine #2

Estranged BPRD agent Andrew Devon, flighty precognitive Fenix, and Bruiser, Fenix’s dog, are out walking along a deserted highway, the lone survivors of the colossal train crash that stranded them out in the desert. They finally locate a semi truck they can use for transport — only to discover there’s half a dead body inside. And then they get attacked by giant monsters. They manage to flee, but there’s not enough gas to get them far. Is there any hope for them? Meanwhile, the Nazi bastards running Zinco are working hard to get their old diabolical, world-ending tricks going again.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent apocalyptic action. Outstanding monsters and tension. Just an all-around great comic. It’s amazing how good nearly all of the BPRD comics have been for the last few years.

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Alien Abduction

Dark Horse Presents #12

Alright, what do we got in this newest issue of Dark Horse’s anthology series? We’ve got an Aliens story by John Layman and Sam Kieth (with not too many xenomorphs, but we do get a hallucinatory teddy bear). We got “The Creep,” a story by John Arcudi and Jonathan Case about a private detective with a case of acromegaly, Carla Speed McNeil’s “Finder: Third World,” Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten’s “Criminal Macabre,” Evan Dorkin’s “House of Fun” (featuring the Eltingville Club), Dean Motter’s “Mister X,” Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s “Nexus: Bad Moon Rising,” Mike Russell’s very funny “Sabertooth Vampire,” and a bit of fiction by Harlan Ellison, with art by Richard Corben.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of good stuff, nearly all of it running at very high quality. Standouts include Sam Kieth’s artwork in the “Aliens” chapter, the Eltingville Club getting humiliated during a zombie walk, the Ellison story, and as always, the newest chapter of “Finder” by Carla Speed McNeil.

All Star Western #9

Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham have been captured by the August 7 terrorist group and are being sent to die on a boatload of innocent immigrants — but wait, it was all a ruse! Arkham let himself by captured by the police on purpose so he could mislead them about Hex’s plans. That gives the two of them time to foil the bombing plot while Nighthawk and Cinnamon beat the snot out of the August 7’s ringleaders. There’s a very brief cameo appearance of one of the Court of Owls’ Talon assassins — just so DC can stick a “Night of the Owls” banner on the cover — then we jump back to Gotham City so we can re-introduce one of my favorite characters from Jonah Hex’s supporting cast. All that plus the continued adventures of Nighthawk and Cinnamon as they hunt down the bandit who killed Cinnamon’s father.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Partly, I’m just amazed that Dr. Arkham managed to be of some use to the plot for once — whether he’ll get any more competent or go back to his usual screwup ways, I suppose we’ll have to find out. Everything else in this comic works well, with the exception of the from-out-of-nowhere Court of Owls silliness…

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Sand Gets in your Eyes

The Amazing Spider-Man #684

The Sinister Six has put the smackdown on the Avengers, but Silver Sable manages to rescue Spidey and the Black Widow. The crew from Horizon Labs calls in to offer assistance — their labs in NYC are shut down, but they’ve got a yacht out in international waters where Mayor Jameson can’t stop them. Spidey and the other heroes travel to a secret satellite factory in the Sahara, armed with a little of Horizon Labs’ tech, but they soon find themselves ambushed by the Sandman — now empowered by all the sand in the world’s largest desert. Can three people stand against that much power?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderful writing and art, excellent twists and turns in the story, and outstanding dialogue and action. Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos are doing comics right.

Dark Horse Presents #11

This issue features the usual wide variety of stories and creators: Francesco Francavilla’s “The Black Beetle,” Evan Dorkin’s “House of Fun,” John Arcudi’s “The Creep,” a short story by Andrew Vachss with illustrations by Geof Darrow, Neal Adams’ “Blood,” Carla Speed McNeil’s “Finder: Third World,” and much more.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I hate to do this to a series that’s been awesome far, far more often than not, but other than McNeil’s “Finder” and Dorkin’s “Milk and Cheese” and various other funny mini-strips, very little of this was particularly good.

Wonder Woman #8

Preparing for her journey to Hell to rescue Zola from Hades, Wonder Woman gets kitted out by Hephaestus — swords, daggers, shields, and even Eros’ golden handguns. She and Hermes arrive in Hell to find it looks, at least for now, like London, seemingly deserted — but in fact, Hell is literally made of the souls trapped there, and they occasionally burst out of statues, bloody and dripping as freshly skinned corpses, to attack people at Hades’ whim. Soon enough, they locate Zola — and while it’s only been days since she was abducted, in Hell, months have passed, so it looks like she’s at least eight months along. But Hades isn’t about to let Zola go without a fight…

Verdict: Ehh, I wasn’t so fond of this one. Cliff Chiang’s art is as beautiful as ever, and the action and dialogue are pretty good. But I just found myself fairly bored with the whole issue. Sorry — they can’t all be winners.

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Tarzan Boy

Dark Horse Presents #10

Lots of stuff in this issue, including the conclusion of Alan Gordon and Thomas Yeates’ “The Once and Future Tarzan,” much-welcome “Milk and Cheese” and “The Murder Family” episodes by Evan Dorkin, a new chapter of Carla Speed McNeil’s “Finder: Third World,” a text story by Andrew Vachss with art by Geof Darrow, and much, much more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There were a few stories I wasn’t real happy with — I thought the Tarzan tale, which ran very promisingly for the first two chapters, mostly fell apart in a maze of too many characters at the end (though I still think this would be grand as an ongoing comic), Colin Lorimer’s “UXB” was just too weird for me to take seriously, and I’ve never managed to enjoy any “Criminal Macabre” story. But aside from that, everything else rocked the house. M.J. Butler and Mark Wheatley’s “Skulltar” continues to be very funny, “Finder” and “The Massive” are always wonderful, Vachss’ “Dead Reliable” is a nice little study on growing old, feeling desperate, and embracing amorality, and new Dorkin “Milk and Cheese” and “Murder Family” stories are always worth celebrating.

Wonder Woman #7

Well, this one was just deeply problematic.

Wonder Woman, Hermes, and Lennox enlist the aid of gun-toting prettyboy Eros to help find the kidnapped Zola. Eros takes them to see the monstrous weapons-crafter Hephaestus to ask for weapons and passage to Hell to confront Hades. Diana learns that Hephaestus’ minions are all male children of the Amazons — and her decision to free her half-brothers leads to more surprises and revelations.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Most of the story is fine. The art is gorgeous. But what others have said about the revelations about the Amazons — that they periodically take to the seas to commandeer ships, rape and murder the crews, bear their children, and either kill the baby boys or sell them into slavery — is entirely correct — it turns the Amazons into despicable monsters and calls into question Wonder Woman’s intellect, as she was apparently unaware of this part of her homeland’s past. It pushes past my suspension of disbelief and just turns the Amazons into something they were never meant to be. It’s too bad, because most of this issue is fine — but this just ends up wrecking my ability to enjoy the story.

Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #1

Here’s the first issue of a new Vertigo series written by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds and illustrated by Denys Cowan. It focuses on Dominique Laveau, an apparent descendant of legendary voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, who finds herself on the run from almost everyone in New Orleans, including gangsters, voodoo practitioners, magic gunmen, monsters, and even the loa themselves. Why is everyone after her, and what secret powers does she possess?

Verdict: Thumbs down. Sorry, but it bored me. Too much pointless running around, no significant character background for Dominique, too many supporting characters getting introduced and killed in the same panel, and just much too much passivity from the heroine. Why should I care about Dominique when all she can do is run away from everything? Why should I care about the setting when we get absolutely no background or explanations about what’s going on? I’ll probably give this another chance to impress me in the second issue — but it’s got a steep hill to climb.

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Death Comes Calling

Dark Horse Presents #9

Another excellent issue of Dark Horse’s always-entertaining anthology series. We start off with a Lobster Johnson story by Mike Mignola and Joe Querio, in which a gangster sells his soul for the chance to beat the famed crimefighter. Beside that, we’ve got a story by Paul Pope about the Apollo 12 lunar mission, Tony Puryear’s ongoing tale of a prison colony that’s part science fiction and part fantasy, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The City in the Sea” by Richard Corben, “Alabaster: Wolves,” a story by Caitlin R. Kiernan and Steve Lieber about an unusual monster hunter and her equally unusual prey, the very funny barbarian/public relations epic of “Skulltar” by M.J. Butler and Mark Wheatley, and Alan Gordon and Thomas Yeates’ remarkable “The Once and Future Tarzan.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Some of these stories are just flat-out amazing. The Paul Pope story makes me wish he’d write more straightforward history, as his behind-the-headlines look at the 1969 moon launch makes for really fascinating reading. Kiernan and Lieber’s “Alabaster: Wolves” is about to become a miniseries, and this introduction to the characters makes it look like something I’d really like to read. And “The Once and Future Tarzan” is mindbogglingly awesome stuff that definitely needs to be either an ongoing series or a much larger graphic novel of its own.

All Star Western #6

Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham are trapped deep underground. Hex fights off a gigantic mutant bat, convinces the underground tribe of bat-worshiping Indians to let them go free, and they both climb up outside of the mansion of Alan and Catherine Wayne. They enlist their aid to get the police to help raid the workhouse and free all the child slaves. Will Hex be able to apprehend the mastermind behind the slavery ring? And in the backup feature, the Barbary Ghost is close to her final vengeance against the criminals who destroyed her family. But is there anywhere she can go when all her foes are dead?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, good action, nice art. Hey, it’s still worth reading, and that’s something that can’t be said for most of the New 52.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Archie and the gang get involved in the Occupy movement? That’s… kinda amazing…
  • Margot’s Room” is a nicely terrifying little comic. Go get to clicking. Start at the top, work your way to the floor.
  • All of the “Inappropriate Soundtrack” videos are pretty funny, but I think this one was the best.

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Mourning Edition

Dark Horse Presents #8

The spotlight story in this issue is the short B.P.R.D. episode where Kate Corrigan of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense discovers for the first time that Hellboy, the Bureau’s most celebrated agent, has died and learns that her own future may lie in England rather than anywhere in America. Besides that, we get a story about the Beasts of Burden meeting up with some unearthly sheep, plus the final chapter of Howard Chaykin’s “Marked Man,” the amazing “The Once and Future Tarzan” by Alan Gordon and Thomas Yeates, Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson’s “The Massive,” Martin Conaghan and Jimmy Broxton’s tribute to mad science “Time to Live,” Rich Johnston and Simon Rohrmuller’s faux-mystery “The Many Murders of Miss Cranbourne,” and the continuing postmortem adventures of “Skulltar” by M.J. Butler and Mark Wheatley.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Only a few stories that aren’t that good, but most of these are really good, really fun comics.

The Amazing Spider-Man #679

When we last left Spider-Man, New York City was just one minute away from being utterly destroyed. But now that minute has passed, and nothing happened? Obviously, the watch that Spidey used to guesstimate when the destruction happened could mean that all the destruction happened another 12 hours in the future, so the Wall-Crawler obviously has a lot more work to do. After enlisting the aid of Silver Sable to foil an attempt by Flag Smasher to nuke the city, Spidey thinks the day is saved, but his coworker Grady tells him the time portal still shows New York destroyed. But with Spidey stopping every crime he can on the off-chance that it might finally save the world, time is still running out. Is there anything that can save the city?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice done-in-two-issues story that’s packed with tension, humor, action, and everything else you need for a good Spidey comic.

Justice League International #6

In the aftermath of the JLI’s victory over Peraxxus, the team wraps up a few loose ends, disassembling the giant Signal Men robots and taking down a bunch of terrorists who’ve been attacking the UN with unexpectedly powerful bombs. Can the team persuade the Security Council that they should continue to work together? Or will the UN’s enemies have the last laugh?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Here’s the crazy thing about this comic. I recognize that it’s probably not anywhere near the best comic out there. The dialogue is awkward, the characterization is iffy, the scenarios are clumsy — but I like the main characters, I like the general gist of the stories, and I like the fact that none of the female characters are stuck wearing embarrassingly skimpy or idiotic costumes. Will that be enough to keep me reading the comic in the future? Time will tell…

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Stuff I Just Don’t Have Time to Do Long Reviews For

Batman #4

I liked it. The Court of Owls is nice and creepy. The background on young Bruce Wayne’s first detective case is maybe a bit odd, but still enjoyable.

Dark Horse Presents #7

I liked it. Lots of good stories in this one, including a new Hellboy story with art by Mike Mignola, Howard Chaykin’s always enjoyable “Marked Man,” a tale of Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai, and the amusing and unexpected story of the barbarian hero Skulltar by M.J. Butler and Mark Wheatley.

The Amazing Spider-Man #676

I didn’t like it. Spidey never appears. It’s all the Sinister Six vs. the Intelligencia. And Doctor Octopus’ new costume is just awful.

Blue Beetle #4

I didn’t like it. I really kinda hated it. Remember what made the old Blue Beetle so much fun? Namely, you know, the fun? All that fun, the light touch, the great interplay with the supporting cast? None of it’s there. It’s just another bombastic, stupid DC comic book now.

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The Grace of Godzilla

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #9

Steven Woods and his young traveling companion Allie have a new vehicle to travel around the country in — the abandoned and battle-scarred Mechagodzilla! Woods has gotten the manual controls switched on, and he’s able to beat up on Anguirus. Woods reveals that he’s got a mad-on to destroy Godzilla, because the King of Monsters killed his whole family. Eventually, President Ogden and what’s left of the American government are able to contact Mechagodzilla and order him back to Detroit, but it may already be too late for that.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This really does seem to be the most focused issue of this series so far. Most other issues have had multiple storylines running and multiple characters, sometimes very minor ones. But this one is focused entirely on Woods, Allie, and Mechagodzilla, and it makes it a vastly stronger story. I wasn’t really expecting a lot from this issue, but I was very pleased with how it turned out — kudos to writer Jason Ciaramella for that.

Secret Avengers #19

Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, the Black Widow, and Moon Knight are in the Baltic nation of Symkaria, looking to take down a drug lord named Voydanoi, who is apparently using drugs to make his thugs as powerful as super-soldiers. But it soon becomes apparent that Voydanoi’s minions aren’t super-soldiers, and they didn’t get their abilities from drugs — they emit brightly-colored, swirling lights when they’re knocked unconscious. Will the team be able to make it past all the enhanced guards to the penthouse? Once they’re there, will they be able to handle Voydanoi himself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good but not spectacular story. Good action all around, and it’s nice to see Moon Knight do something other than be the Crazy Guy.

Dark Horse Presents #6

This anthology series stuffs another metric ton of good stories in here. We’ve got Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s “Resident Alien,” Carla Speed McNeil’s “Finder: Third World,” Felipe Melo and Juan Cavia’s “Adventures of Dog Mendonca and Pizzaboy,” Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s “Beasts of Burden,” Fabio Moon’s “Change,” Neal Adams’ “Blood,” Steve Niles and Christopher Mittens’ “Criminal Macabre,” Haward Chaykin’s “Marked Man,” Robert Love and David Walker’s “Number 13,” and Andi Watson’s “Skeleton Key.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing particularly bad, and lots of stuff that’s really good. Personal favorites included “Marked Man” and “Finder: Third World,” which both seem to get more amazing with every new chapter, and “Beasts of Burden,” which is always grand, grand fun.

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Clanking Chains

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Russia #2

Kate Corrigan and Johann Kraus meet the director of the Russian Occult Bureau, and he’s not what they expected. In fact, he’s a stitched-together corpse wearing a protective suit similar to Johann’s. But he’s intelligent, erudite, and not particularly sinister. In fact, he’s Iosif, the same walking corpse who Abe Sapien met in a state of extremely advanced decomposition on the ocean floor in last year’s “Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain.” Iosif is now smarter than he used to be and has managed to become director of the entire bureau. But Johann soon learns that Iosif may not be the most stable guy as he uses harsh methods to deal with a man he claims is possessed. And what’s going on in the mysterious city of Rampayedik?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A really interesting story with lots of intrigue and supernatural zing. Iosif’s return is amazingly welcome, as “Abyssal Plain” was a big favorite of mine.

Dark Horse Presents #5

Another bunch of great stories in this comics anthology — including new chapters for Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia’s “The Adventures of Dog Mendonca and Pizzaboy,” Robert Love and David Walker’s “Number 13,” Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s “Resident Alien,” Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten’s “Criminal Macabre,” Neal Adams’ “Blood,” Carla Speed McNeil’s “Finder: Third World,” and Howard Chaykin’s “Marked Man,” along with new stories — Eric Powell’s “Isolation” and Andi Watson’s “Skeleton Key: Dead Can’t Dance.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Anthologies are always a mixed bag of brilliant and not-so-brilliant, but there were a lot more good stories here than bad ones. Definite high points would be Powell’s robot debauchery mini-epic “Isolation,” Chaykin’s always amazing “Marked Man,” and McNeil’s tribute to strange futures “Finder.”

Blue Beetle #2

Jaime Reyes has an alien super-weapon wrapped around him and screaming in his ear while he tries to avoid killing everyone around him. And the Reach has noticed that Earth’s scarab has just activated, so they start making plans to invade.

Verdict: Man, so not enthused about this right now. This is the problem with rebooting a new series like this — especially when you’re not really changing much of anything about Jaime and the scarab’s origins. We could’ve skipped all the repeat of Jaime’s origin in favor of telling some new Blue Beetle stories. Nevertheless, the writing and art are A-OK, and I’m still a big fan of the character, so I reckon I’ll be sticking with it.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Looks like Marvel’s recent layoffs were apparently done for the same reason most other layoffs happen — greedy managers who want to make themselves look like big profit-grabbers for their bosses.
  • What the 1% have but can never appreciate, and what they want but can never have. (By sci-fi/horror megastar author Charles Stross)

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