Welcome back to another exciting installment of Dark Horse Comics Round Up or it’s (perhaps temporary) name, Dark Horse Saddle Up! Digga D returns with his incredible insights on comics and Vincent took some time to read more of them than usual, so you get two opinions for the price of none!
Story: Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Art: Ben Stenbeck
To recap, Baltimore is a man of science tracking down and taking out vampires. The vampires aren’t Bela Lugosi and they aren’t twilight. They’re more like 30 days of night/ zombies. Baltimore gets on the train to try and stop the vampires from gaining a foothold to kill all those that bleed (or something). The story is done partly by Mike Mignola so this should feel like a familiar idea. Baltimore beats stuff up with wrenches and anything in his arsenal .
I do like this series, but I have to say the ending felt a bit missing in the climax department. That being said, there were some really clever things going on in the writing. For instance one of the characters is bound by faith quotes biblical scripture, while Baltimore quotes Nietzsche before taking them out. The art as always looks great as Stenbeck finds a fantastic line to walk without being a straight-up Mignola clone but making his art close enough that I get that feeling I want when reading a Mignola title. All in all, this was still a great read with intelligent things written subtly into it. Looking forward to the next little arc!
Vincent’s Viewpoint: Digga D is dead on. Climax was a little iffy, but the art and writing is great over all. I say check this series out either in individual issues or in the inevitable collection.
Script: Joe Casey
-Amazing Grace- Paul Maybury
-Agents of Change- Ulises Farinas
-The Ballad of Frank Wells -Dan McDaid
In the same vein as America’s Best Comics from Allen Moore, comes Catalyst. Three very different stories that are dripping in nostalgia, irreverence and fun. If you want dark and brooding stories, this isn’t for you. I don’t think there’s a part of this comic that takes itself too seriously and gets right down to the joy of what these funny-books can be about. Like I said, they feel kind of retro, but are completely contemporary so it’s not like they are trying to recreate a begone era of comics, but take the fun of them and bring them to our modern nomenclature.
In the first story a swooning alien with all the charms of a smarmy douche-bag tries to win the heart of a tough-as-nails super-heroine. The story is fun, but I love looking at Paul Maybury’s art. There’s tons of character in his line work and the way he crafts a page. I’ve been a long-time fan of Maybury’s since I was introduced to him by Matty and to watch his style grow and change constantly is a really great treat. This is a good alien wants to get all up in a strong woman story that doesn’t feel rehashed. Next up, Agents of Change vs a group of baddies and some dude with brains. The dialogue in this issue is where I felt the story shined. The final story was about a super hero doing a Lennon (John… not V.I.) style bed in and invited the press to report on it. In it he expresses that he is done with being “America’s Hero” and going to be a “World Hero when a “Flood” of trouble comes his way.
I like these kinds of books. Quick little stories with personality. Is this for everyone? Nope. More serious readers would be appalled at some of the easy going writing that is intentionally cheeky. I would probably start at the top because as of jumping in on Issue 3, there was some confusion, but not enough to be annoyed, just enough to want to know backstory.
Vincent’s Viewpoint: The last time I weighed in an issue of Catalyst my only gripe was that I found the space Don Juan to be irritating in the Amazing Grace storyline and I expressed a desire for her to move past it. Well things really heated up this issue! I’m full in on this story line as I am with the other two. Check it out!
Script: Alex De Campi
Art: Chris Peterson
Holy Honeysuckles is this book crazy. When you slap “Grind House” on a title, you know what to expect: Over-the-top action, gore, probably tits, and a “F’ you” swagger that goes above and beyond “good writing.” Bee Vixens flippin’ delivers. The story jumps in where a dude is captured by some hive-minded honeys. A bad-ass mama comes to save him (think Snake Plisskin with a vagina). There’s a queen and bunch of drones that want to protect the swarm they have impregnated in the dude (who did I mention is atop a hill of severed heads?) that the female protagonist is trying to rescue. Mayhem, mirth and motorcycles round out what happens next.
Writer Alex De Campi wrote one of the most comics here and I want to check out her previous work. The art is awesome as well, but I think the story is above and beyond what I wanted. The pacing worked so well, and there are everything you look for in a campy story like this. If you don’t like laughing at B-movies (Or bee movies honk-honk), stay clear. This is a love letter to all of us that grew up on a steady diet terribly great cinema. This little comic left it’s stinger in and I’m way okay with that.
Vincent’s Viewpoint: I’ve found myself in a truly strange situation. I like tits. I like gore. Then why don’t I like this? I think the answer is that I like to see real boobs in movies. Comic boobs don’t do anything at all for me. Maybe I’m weird. As soon as I read the first page or two I thought, “fuck this shit, I’d rather watch The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine on Netflix.”
Script: Tim Seely
Art: Mike Norton
Ahh college. The time to experiment with sex, drugs and trying to tell people you are now a Wiccan. Well, Merry me, and merry met, there’s a comic here about that whole debacle and he’s actually got powers to boot. This issue Rob Bailey (the Occultist) finds another coven of witches to hang around with. They astral project, be-bop around the Sun, moons of Saturn while coming all to close to the halls of the dead. What more could you ask for with these new BFFs (or BFS’s… Best Friends in Sorcery) (Yeah, that’s in the book) (no, I’m not kidding).
I’m still not sure about this one. It didn’t grab me like I thought it would. There’s some things I liked, but it felt as though I were watching an episode of some MTV show or Charmed mixed with not-so-great-magic. The art is fine, but the story was just kind of ho-hum. “Weee look at us, we just met and we’re having so much fun in the universe in a blink of an eye!” With a title like The Occultist, I want something more fun that a lame issue of Dr. Strange; the college years. Maybe it’s building to something, but the only thing mystical for me here is wishing I could’ve had the clairvoyance to not read it. Zoop!
(Adapted from the rough draft of Lucas’ epic franchise)
Script J.W. Rinzler
Art: Mike Mayhew
Jedi General Skywalker and Young Jedi Annikin Starkiller… what the what? So in this issue Artoo and Seethreepio land in the desert and have some classic moments when they are found by Annikin and Princess Leia. They are then joined with General Skywalker who’s getting things together with his rebels to prepare for an assault. Storm troopers find them and with lightsabers a blazing they fight ‘em off. There’s Darth Vader and another Sith guy with a breathing piece (I assume they become one in the final draft). Much to my chagrin, with all this time in the desert, NO FREAKING JAWAS?! Yeah, I’m sure they were added in a very different draft, but come on!!! Those things are my favorite.
What’s kind of nice about this book is to see how vastly different things can be from a rough draft to final product. It’ hard to review this one because the whole time I’m going “Buh… Nehh… that’s not…” I think the story is far more adult than the SW universe we know. The art in the book is great and each panel feels cinematic. I’m not sure this would win over any non-SW people, but it would be cool to have an adult who hasn’t seen SW (there are some left) and see what they think. I think this is worth it for fanatics of the franchise to see the initial seeds that Lucas was toying with, but for anyone with Aspergers and need the same ol’ Star Wars story, STAY CLEAR!
Vincent’s Viewpoint: While I’m still on board for this one, hot damn it’s kind of a mess. If you love Star Wars and want to see a different form of it, I still recommend The Star Wars. However, there is a reason why this version wasn’t made into a movie. Too many characters, too much jargon, convoluted plot… it’s confusing. I still like elements of this thing. Loved the appearance of lightsaber wielding Stormtroopers (who are brutal). Love that Darth Vader is just a general with a scar. It’s cool to see him walking around without his helmet on. I think I’ll want to re-read this whole series in a collection.
Main story and art: Michael Avon Oeming
Mini story: Story by Michael Avon Oeming, Art by Victor Santos
This is a comic I feel like I’m missing something. So premise is the kind of like Marvel’s Civil War where the government isn’t on the side of the supers and they want all of them registered and turned in. There’s rationed food and electricity and the government are tapping into the Super’s powers (like an energy dude is being forced to use his powers to be a living generator. Some supers show up and then one big bad mama named D.D. Mau shows up (I love that they used that for her name from the classic Deer hunter scene. There’s cats in boxes that are released and starting to fight back and then a small mini comic in the same universe of other misfit supers going to work.
Even though I was kind of confused, I still really enjoyed the premise of the comic. The characters seem believable and offbeat enough to make them original. There’s cleverness in the writing that at first glance you might miss. I also love it that they don’t knock you over the head with their cleverness. One of the mini characters named is Faustus and looks quite devilish and there’s references to Schrodinger’s cats (or man as it is). I love the idea of the Government using what could be the saviors of the city and turning them into their own power generators all the while making the plebs fear them with a whisper that they are carriers of a plague. With so much clever writing going on, this may be a comic to watch.
Vincent’s Viewpoint: I’ve only read about 3 issues of The Victories total and I’m ALL IN. I still don’t know what’s going on entirely, but the writing is so damned solid that I can’t help but be pulled into this world. I can’t recommend this one enough. BUY IT!