Dark Horse Comics Roundup – 8/28/13

Hey, P-jammers. Usually Vincent takes the lead on these Dark Horse mini-reviews, but he’s far too busy and I don’t have any money or gas, so I had no excuse to say I couldn’t. These reviews should be prefaced with the fact that I am not familiar at all with these books and in most cases I’m jumping into the middle of a story without any context. For this reason, my “reviews” should be taken with a pound of salt.

Angel and Faith #25

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First up, “Angel & Faith” season 9, issue 25. I guess I’m not completely oblivious when it comes to the content of this comic, seeing as I was a big fan of both of the television series these characters originated from. There are two covers available for this issue, and I have to say that the painted cover by Steve Morris is much more compelling shelf candy. He captured the characters’ likenesses very well and the overall storytelling on that cover is a little stronger than the alternate option featuring a closeup of some glasses showing a reflection of the titular characters. I’m not trying to tear down Rebekah’s cover at all, I’m just saying I know where my money would have gone.

Luckily there’s a rundown on where we are in the story on the credits page, because hot damn we jump right into the action on the first page of story and I have no idea what’s happening! The action is a little front end heavy in this issue, occurring and ending all within the first few pages, and the remaining 80% if the issue is expository wrap up material.

I didn’t realize until the end, but I guess this issue is the season finale. As far as television season finales go, I suppose it’s serviceable, but with it being so unbalanced with getting all of the action out of the way so early, the majority of the story remaining is tying up loose ends with mini “The More You Know” moments for each of the gang. It’s definitely left open for more adventures, like any good season finale should, and they tease at where the story could lead in future seasons.

The art by Rebekah Isaacs is fantastic, in my opinion. Varied camera angles, consistent and accurate likenesses, and she handles action well. She managed to keep the panels interesting, even when it was just people talking to each other, so she really did her job.

Christos Gage handles the material well, although one critique would be that the issue seemed to be missing what I enjoyed so much about the Buffy and Angel series; humor. Even in the really dark episodes of the show, they managed to show in some laughs, which seem to be absent from this issue of the series (Obviously, I can’t speak for the rest of the storyline).

Dan Jackson’s colors worked well with the style of linework, but didn’t really increase the overall value of the artwork in my opinion. I’m not saying he did anything wrong, but the colors didn’t exactly stand out on their own. Overall, I’d say it’s a solid wrap up issue to a story that I can only imagine was fun and exciting.

Captain Midnight #2

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Right away, the cover grabs me. I’m a fan of old school comics, and the cover artist was pretty clearly doing an homage piece to the golden age of comics, delivering a dynamic frame of action depicting our hero at battle with some skeleton faced shock troops. Filepe Massafera does his job of grabbing my eye with his well painted cover work here.

Captain Midnight himself doesn’t seem entirely original in look or background. Of course, when anyone from the 30’s/40’s is fighting Nazis (especially with “Captain” right there in his name) one will automatically compare the material to Captain America. The comic really establishes the similarity to territory that’s already been tread early enough in the book that it was tough not to digest the issue with Marvel’s original super soldier on my mind the whole time.

Fernando Dagnino handles art duties well and moves Joshua Williamson’s story along, but I couldn’t help but feel some Bryan Hitch influence in a story that felt like it could exist in the world of Mark Millar’s The Ultimates. It had a very familiar look and feel to The Ultimates. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, or that there should be a limit to stories about American super soldiers back from the past to deal with the threat of Nazis in present day, but it also can’t necessarily be ignored. This issue, being the second in a three part mini-series under this title, establishes characters well and seems to be a good midpoint to get an introductory story rolling. I would definitely read more.

King Conan #4

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Conan is a title that I used to actually collect and enjoy, so I was happy to dip my toe back in this pool. This is a character that has been around since the 1930’s, and exists in a swords and sorcery fantasy world where it should be pretty tough to do any wrong with the character.

Even though this is the fourth part of a six issue storyline, and “Number 12 in a series of King Conan Adventures”, the world and cast of characters feel familiar enough that one can just jump in and not feel totally clueless. It’s important in any Conan story to match the narrative and dialog style established in the enormous amount of material that came before this series, and Timothy Truman handles the storytelling masterfully.

Tomas Giorello’s art in this book is nothing short of fantastic and is a perfect match for the book/character. It’s got a sort of ageless appeal and quality that could exist in any generation of this character’s eighty year history. The pacing of this issue manages to move the story forward, while still delivering a lot of history and exposition. All said and done, this book would come highly recommended from me, but I’m admittedly a fan of Conan.

Itty Bitty Hellboy #1

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Alright, I’m a sucker for this kinda stuff. I’ve been in love with Hellboy since the first few issues as a kid. Along the way, there has been an offshoot iteration of the character as a kid in Hellboy Junior, which I enjoyed simply for the novelty of it, and this seems to be simply another opportunity to take another shot at the Hellboy characters as kids motif. This takes a much closer poke at Peanuts with its approach, whereas Hellboy Junior felt almost like a crazy trip into Ren and Stimpy-esque territory.

Anyone familiar with the characters of Hellboy proper will be at least mildly entertained by these short setup/punchline newspaper style strips. The jokes are aimed at the fans and nod at moments in the series’ history (oh yeah, pamcakes makes an appearance). Art Baltazar and Franco bring some fun to a normally dark character. It’s adorable and could be shared with kids. I likes it!

The Massive #15

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Yikes, issue 15, with this story taking place as the third in a three issue arc, for a book that I have no idea about. I’ve gotta say, I have no idea what is going on. I assume “The Crash” is the reason the world’s oceans have seemingly risen to the point of humanity existing in a pre-Waterworld type of scenario. Cities are submerged, and as far as I can tell, there is no ground surface to be seen. Those people with any power maintain this power with their ships and helicopters.

The art is decent, but honestly, there wasn’t enough in this issue to truly grab me and make me want to check out the rest of the issues. I felt like in one piece of action in particular, the sequence was maybe mishandled a bit in regard to the action.

Brian Wood, the writer, has put out a lot of books over the years, but my initial impression for this one isn’t very lasting. I’d say what actually stood out to me the most was the colors, which I think were pretty effective. I liked the pallet for the book, which is a weird place to land for what I liked most, but credit where credit is due.

Mass Effect Foundation #2

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As helpful as it was to be familiar with the source material it was with Angel & Faith, I did not have that advantage with this book. I know Mass Effect is an enormously popular game that has sold thousands of copies, with all of those thousands of people that bought the game being very familiar with the characters and world in which this comic book takes place. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. I have never played a Mass Effect game in my life. Honestly, I’m only familiar with Mass Effect thanks to painstakingly well crafted pornographic gif images looped to feature endless alien fornication.

So, being unfamiliar with the story I was jumping into, I was worried nothing would make sense. Sci-fi is sometimes difficult like that. Usually you can’t just pop into a sci-fi story wherever and feel like you know what’s going on. That wasn’t really an issue at all with this book.

Even without the backstory, I felt pretty confident I knew who served what purpose for this issue. Not really good vs. bad so much, as that wasn’t important in this story. This story could have taken place in any existing sci-fi property, as it was basically a cat and mouse game.

I thought Mac Walters paced it really well and the dialog and banter was great between characters. Where it falls short for me, though, is definitely the art. I really didn’t like the way the artist handled most humans in the book. Aliens all looked cool, but the humans just didn’t look natural. Tony Parker really needs to pay attention to how he handles people holding weapons. That was a consistent area of problem and I actually found it distracting. I also got lost in a bit of the sequential storytelling where I didn’t understand how a character got from point A to point B, which in this particular scene causes a major problem for me. The story was handled well enough to keep me interested, but the art and coloring left a bit to be desired.

Mind MGMT #14

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I’ll preface this mini-review with the fact that I like watercolors. Usually. I think this book definitely has potential to be very interesting, as far as the story is concerned, but the art style was too rudimentary for me to really enjoy it. This is all completely personal taste, and admittedly some pages/panels are very good, but overall I felt the art was too inconsistent.

The watercolor improves the quality of the line work, without a doubt, but the quality of the illustrations is where the book struggles.

One thing that I will say, though, is that I can completely appreciate any creative endeavor that has one sole visionary. Matt Kindt is handling all of the artwork, story, and lettering for this book on his own. Few books out there are hand lettered these days, and Kindt is hand writing a good majority of it.

There are interesting ideas explored in this singular issue, and the fact that it is on issue 14 of the series is impressive simply for the fact that he has created it all himself. Although, as I’ve said, the story isn’t to my taste, it still manages to do its job of telling the story. I think my biggest critique is that the cover of this issue has nothing to do with the interior story at all.

Station to Station (Collected from Dark Horse Presents #19-21)

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OH. EM. GEE.

I’m gonna go ahead and just lay this out right away. I LOVE this book. Dark Horse Presents rarely disappoints, and this is definitely a gem that deserved reprinting in a collected single story format. The writing and art on this one come together in a way that is perfection. It’s got themes that have been explored before, but still, the way the story was constructed and all of the visual elements just made this piece of storytelling work.

The Cthulhu-esque creatures from another plane of existence were brilliantly handled, along with all of the other mysterious creatures and things that managed to come through the door created by the protagonist’s machine. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this, so I urge you to go ahead and buy it. It’s a stand alone story that should be appreciated by as many people as possible.

Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman have a lot to be proud of with this comic.

Star Wars Legacy #6

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The first thing I was really happy to see when I read this book was that Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman from the previously reviewed Station to Station also scripted this book. They’re great writers, I’m confident to say after just reading these two books of theirs.

I’m a fan of Star Wars, but I’m completely unfamiliar with the Legacy series. Just reading this book, I think I was able to get into the story fairly easily, and the nice part was that it felt just like some good ol’ Star Wars.

The art in this book is pretty good, although I wish Gabriel Hardman had time to draw this book, too. The cover says “Sith vs. Sith”, but the actual fighting between Sith was pretty quick and over with, but this one Sith assassination of another Sith lays the foundation for unease across the Empire. There’s a new Darth Sith (well to me, at least), and so far he seems pretty badass. They have another strong female character that I can only hope they honor by not having her get and go from badass to knocked up naggy housewife (Padme).

I dug this book quite a bit and would be interested to check out the rest of the series for sure.


Star Wars: Dark Times – A Spark Remains #2

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Hey folks, Vincent here. I missed this issue with last week’s round up and after reading this issue of Star Wars: Dark Times, I realized I needed to make a mention of it. Holy crap, am I digging this issue. I love the probably ill fated quest by the Jedi who want to kill Darth Vader (remember this is after Revenge of the Sith, but before A New Hope). Click here for my impressions on the first issue.

The art is fantastic and I really like where the story is going. There’s a really nice twist at the very end of the issue. If you like Star Wars, pick this one up!

Spoilers: Awesome that the one Jedi gave in and had sex with his girlfriend. That’s something that could totally bite him in the ass in the future. The one thing that confused me was the very last panel. I liked the turnabout, but why did the alien dude’s wings come off? Is that a defensive thing? Ahh don’t tell me. That would be breaking the rules.

  • Chris Piers

    Excellent reviews. But what is the story in the Matt Kindt book? You only really talked about the art.

  • RobotsPJs

    I didn’t even really know what was going in in the issue I read. Something about neighbors murdering each other? It was really hard to follow.

  • Matty

    I honestly can’t tell what the story is about from just this issue. A team is being reassembled, but for what purpose, I couldn’t say. I hope it makes sense in context, because standing alone it didn’t really give me much to go on.