Archive for Dark Horse Presents

The Devil Inside

Daredevil #4

Everyone at least suspects that Matt Murdock is Daredevil, so every time he steps into a courtroom, his case gets derailed and thrown out because people won’t stop talking about Daredevil. So Matt and Foggy Nelson are now working to coach people who have good cases but can’t afford a lawyer on how to represent themselves successfully in court. Of course, there’s still plenty for Daredevil to do, including fighting lions at the Bronx Zoo, beating up muggers in a diner, and rescuing kids from a tenement fire. But Matt’s new case is a wrongful-termination suit with a blind man, a translator who knows over two dozen languages who was fired numerous commendations after somehow running afoul of a couple of Latverian investors. Uh-oh, Latverians, huh?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, the story is just great, but holy baloney, the artwork by Marcos Martin is just absolutely amazing. That’s all I can say about it — just amazing, beautiful artwork. The fight with the lions alone should be put up in a museum somewhere. That cover definitely deserves to be framed and admired.

Batman #1

Well, I loved Scott Snyder’s work when he was writing “Detective Comics,” so I figured I should follow him to see how he does in DC’s new Rebooted “Batman” series. So we get Batman facing off against nearly his entire rogues gallery — and getting helped out of the jam by the Joker?! We get Bruce Wayne and all his most trusted sidekicks visiting a big social event to sell the city’s movers and shakers on a rebuilt, improved Gotham City. And we get Batman visiting a gruesome crime scene to discover that the killer may be someone who’s very, very unexpected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This might be the best of DC’s Rebooted comics so far, mostly because it doesn’t read like a series that’s been rebooted. Our cast of characters doesn’t change significantly (the Riddler gets a mohawk, and that’s about it), and Snyder gets to focus on writing a good Batman story. Greg Capullo’s art is fun — Gotham and Arkham’s villains are appropriately grungy, the details of the Batcave are grandly realized, and the action sequences are fantastic. Put this one on your pull list, gang.

Dark Horse Presents #4

This anthology series seems to be getting better and better. Besides a new episode of Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s enlessly awesome “Beasts of Burden,” we’re treated to new chapters of Howard Chaykin’s “Marked Man” series, Richard Delgado’s “Age of Reptiles,” Carla Speed McNeil’s “Finder: Third World,” Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten’s “Criminal Macabre,” Robert Love and David Walker’s “Number 13,” the wonderfully funny “Adventures of Dog Mendonca and Pizzaboy” by Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia, and much more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Favorite stories? “Beasts of Burden,” of course. Loved the Dog Mendonca story. Chaykin’s “Marked Man” series is getting better by the second. And “Finder” is amazingly fun and entertaining. But I don’t believe there was a single bad story in this issue. That’s pretty good for an anthology comic.

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The Xombi Process

Xombi #6

And almost without me noticing, here’s the final review I’ll get to write of what I’m already considering the lost classic DC Universe. Odd that it’s for such an unusual off-the-beaten-path series as “Xombi,” though…

Roland Finch has taken over the Ninth Stronghold, a giant floating city made out of the skull of a Biblical giant, and David Kim, the immortal xombi, and his religious-oriented magic-wielding friends have stormed the city in an attempt to take it back. While Finch sends his minions (like the Dental Phantoms and the horrific Sisterhood of the Blood Mummies, infested with spiders and armed with  knives that have different powers depending on the phase of the moon), the good guys work to shut down the Stronghold’s power so Finch can’t use it to wage war on other cities. Can David figure out how to stop Finch, defeat his monstrous allies, and still restore the Stronghold to its former glory?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful writing and artwork by John Rozum and Frazer Irving. Such brilliant, gloriously off-kilter ideas for such a short-lived series. Will there be room in the new DC for anything so wild or fun?

Dark Horse Presents #3

A new oversized issue of this anthology series. The eight-dollar cover price should be offset a bit by the fact that this issue has quite a few good stories in it.

We get “Treatment” by Dave Gibbons, a futuristic story about a world that combines law enforcement with reality TV. There’s the odd but wonderful “Finder: Third World” by Carla Speed McNeil. There’s Robert Love and David Walker’s “Number 13” which is strange and off-kilter and still kinda heartwarming. There’s Jim Steranko’s fantastic hard-boiled private-eye tale “Red Tide,” along with a lengthy interview with Steranko. Howard Chaykin brings in a new chapter of his offbeat “Marked Man” crime thriller, and Richard Corben contributes his weird fantasy “Murky World: The Sleepers.” We also get the last chapter of David Chelsea’s awesome “Snow Angel” serial. And as always, there’s a new “Concrete” story by Paul Chadwick, in which Concrete, disturbed by the high kill-rate of the supposedly non-lethal taser weapons, begins working with the police to try make arrests a bit more humane using… hugs?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots and lots of stories here. A few dogs, but most of these are good, fun reading, especially the stories by Chadwick, Steranko, Gibbons, McNeil, Chelsea, and Chaykin. If you don’t mind the high price tag, it’s definitely worth picking up.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Robert Bloch’s That Hellbound Train

Well, here’s something I wasn’t expecting — a comic based on a classic story by Robert Bloch, adapted by Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale. “That Hellbound Train” has been one of my favorite old stories for decades — it even won a Hugo Award in 1959. So this looks like it might be a fun surprise.

Our lead character is Martin, the son of a railroad man who filled his head with stories about the Hellbound Train, a ghost locomotive that carried the souls of the damned down to Hell. Martin’s dad was a heavy drinker after his wife ran off with another man, and he died one night after being hit by a mysterious train. Orphaned, Martin was pushed into an abusive orphanage, which he ran away from. After that, he made do with small jobs and petty theft. And then one night, he meets up with a monstrous train out in the middle of nowhere, with a conductor who lights his lantern by blowing on the wick. The conductor offers him a special watch — all he has to do is stop the watch, and time will stop for him. He’ll be able to choose his moment of greatest happiness, stop the watch, and that moment will go on forever. Not a bad deal, right? Right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So far, this story has all the magic I remember from Bloch’s original. And Dave Wachter’s artwork is gloriously, horrifically beautiful — the Hellbound Train is a gigantic, bloody, smokey, sticky horror, and it’s just flat gorgeous. I’ve got high hopes for this one.

Dungeons & Dragons #8

Adric Fell and his band of adventurers are trapped in the Feywild, where the Faeries, both good and bad, hang out. It’s a wildly dangerous place — filled with monsters, stuffed with dangerous magic, and unhinged from time. After the group saves a gnome and kills the quicklings trying to eat him, they find themselves betrayed, drugged, and strung up to distract the invading Fomorian armies while the gnomes flee to a safer location. Will Fell and his group escape? Do they have allies in the Feywild? And are their allies just as dangerous as the invading monsters?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action and story, and the dialogue here is just plain fantastic. You’re reading this, aren’t you? You should be reading this.

Dark Horse Presents #2

The revival of Dark Horse’s great anthology series continues, with stories ranging from: A new story about Concrete by Paul Chadwick; Robert Love and David Walker’s story about a small boy in a post-apocalyptic hell; Neal Adams ongoing story about a hero that lives in people’s blood; Howard Chaykin’s tale of a schlubby assassin; Michael T. Gilbert’s new story about Mr. Monster; and David Chelsea’s oh-so-cool adventures of Snow Angel.

Verdict: Actually, thumbs down. I loved the Concrete and Snow Angel stories, but the rest were either not particularly good or entirely forgettable. Yes, even the ones with really awesome artwork. And I hope this gets better fast, because $8 is a lot of money to spend on an anthology series that doesn’t deliver the goods.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Awesomesaurus Rex

Super Dinosaur #1

Here’s a new all-ages title from Robert Kirkman, the guy who created “The Walking Dead” and “Invincible.” Our stars include Derek Dynamo, his scientist father Doctor Dynamo, his pet robot Wheels, and of course the title character, Super Dinosaur, a nine-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex wearing a high-tech battlesuit. They charge into action fighting a bunch of dinosaur supervillains, like Terrordactyl, Breakeosaurus, Dreadasaurus, and Tricerachops, most of them working for the evil but self-doubting supervillain Max Maximus. But Dr. Dynamo has a problem — his genius is slipping, and the government is sending an assistant. Derek needs to keep the new assistants from exposing his father and shutting his funding down — and he and Super Dinosaur have to stop the latest dinosaur rampage.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I believe we’re all quite aware of how awesome dinosaurs are, right? Well, this is a pretty fun comic. The design for Super Dinosaur is great, the dinosaur names are wonderfully punny, and the action is really great. If I’ve got any complaint, I’d like Derek to stop using the word “awesome” quite so much — I love the word a lot, but man, that kid needs a broader vocabulary…

Dark Horse Presents #1

Dark Horse Comics’ great anthology series makes its return to print with a full 80 pages of comics. We get a Concrete story by Paul Chadwick, a very short sneak peak of “Xerxes,” Frank Miller’s prequel to “300,” a short all-text story by Harlan Ellison, a “Star Wars” comic, and stories by Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, Carla Speed McNeil, Richard Corben, and David Chelsea.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Favorite stories were the Concrete story (I haven’t read nearly enough Concrete, but good grief, every story I read is just a bucket of glory), the Harlan Ellison story (with two different endings for you to choose from), and David Chelsea’s “Snow Angel” story. I got absolutely no joy out of the “Xerxes” stuff — honestly, Frank Miller has declined a lot more than he should’ve. So some good stuff and some not-so-good stuff. Worst thing about it? The eight-dollar price tag. That’s steeper than DC’s 80 Page Giants. Granted, the quality of the stories here is a heck of a lot better than in DC’s stuff, but that’s still a mighty chunk of change. If they’re going to try to make this a monthly comic, that’s gonna be way too much money. If it’s going to be quarterly, it’s going to be a lot more doable…

Supergirl #63

Robin, Blue Beetle, and Miss Martian have all been captured by the evil Alex, a superpowered technophile who hates young superheroes. Supergirl, meanwhile, is trapped inside an energy bubble over the Harvard campus. And Lois Lane is meeting with a woman who had a hand in creating Alex. And Kara learns Alex’s true identity, too.

Verdict: Ehh, it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t much to write home about either. Hopefully, the next issue will turn out better.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • I mentioned the trailer for this a few weeks back, but here’s the epic celebrity-drenched time-traveling three-part video for the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right Revisited.”
  • There’s a heck of a big gender gap at both Marvel and DC.
  • A comic book about how to use a college library? Meh. A comic book about how to use a college library… during a zombie apocalypse? That’s more like it!
  • Hee Haw comics? (fearful shudder)
  • Steve Jackson Games is running a Munchkin contest for webcomic cartoonists…

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Friday Night Fights: Skull Kraken!

There’s less than a week before Thanksgiving, and this seems to be the perfect time to consider all the things we have to be thankful for. Family and friends, good fortune wherever it may fall, weekends, days off, and most importantly — FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s pain-party is brought to you by 2008’s MySpace Dark Horse Presents anthology, from from Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s story “Safe and Sound,” starring the Kraken from the Umbrella Academy.




Y’all have a merry weekend, and I’ll see y’all back here bright and early Monday.

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From the Computer to your Home

MySpace Dark Horse Presents

Awesome! Dark Horse Comics put out a trade paperback of a bunch of the stories they’ve got on their MySpace page. Yeah, sure, you can read ’em all online for free, but this way, you can show ’em to your technophobic gramma, or you can read ’em when all those Wall Street brokers steal that $700 billion government bailout, move to Argentina, and shut off our electricity. Heck, you can read ’em while you’re sitting on the pot. (“Uhh, I can take my laptop in there, man.” Bite me, freak. No one sane takes a laptop into the bathroom. Do you know how idiotic you look strainin’ and groanin’ on the terlet with your dorky MacBook on your lap? AWAY WIF YOU, KNAVE.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah, this one is awesome. For one thing, it opens up with Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon’s impossibly awesome “Sugarshock” — and that’s worth the purchase price all by itself. Plus it’s got a story of the Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, Adam Warren’s awesomely awesome superhero bondage-queen Empowered, a Christmas story by Mike Mignola, Rick Rememnder’s “Fear Agent” and much, much more.

Really, I’ve been looking through here trying to find a story I didn’t like — I think I found one. And I didn’t even mind it that much, it just didn’t entirely appeal to me. The rest of the stories here are just plain jaw-droppingly schweeet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Big-time, crazy-hat, jazz-hands thumbs up. Why hasn’t “Sugarshock” been given an ongoing series yet? Whedon, to heck with that Buffy stuff, a’ight? Get busy on bringing us monthly Sugarshock adventures.

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