Hey, kids! Vincent here with another round of Dark Horse Comics reviews by everyone’s favorite person, Digga D. This week Dark Horse opens up their big sack and unloads a ton of comics as a pre-Christmas gift for all us nerds. Gifts we have to pay for, but gifts none the less. There’s no releases next week, so they doubled down with a huge release. I teamed up with Digga D to cover some of the issues he missed, so those are clearly marked. Enjoy!
Story: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art: Tyler Cook
At the end of last issue Liz Sherman returns to the BPRD as they are about to infiltrate what’s been causing these weird growths to occur. In BPRD #114, they head in to a hospital and run into more genetically modified baddies and finally one very Jeffry Combs as Herbert West in “Reanimator” looking doctor. Liz does what Liz has never done (in the comics I’ve read) and gave one of the most satisfying kills I’ve seen to a baddy.
BPRD so far in these latest issues has been hit and miss, but this issue sure makes up for any misses. Normally, I don’t think Liz is that great of a character and they are making her come out to play far better than before. She’s always seemed like a sulky teen, and lately, she’s really getting all grown up. Sure, most of the other members of the BPRD are just humans that I have no idea if they have any special powers, but when they allow someone with powers to come in loud and clear, the series works. This wouldn’t be an issue to start on, but it’s a great payoff issue for those of you that have been fans of BPRD so far.
Plot by Donny Cates and Mark Reznicek
Script: Donny Cates
Art: Geoff Shaw
This is it… the final issue of Buzzkill. From AA to the source of the problem, this comic has gone the distance. We find out last issue that Francis’ father is pretty much a total bad-ass and also a total dick. This issue starts with Francis playing with toys as a youngin’ and Dad comes down and poops all over it. Just racking Francis down for apparently killing his mother in childbirth. If that’s the relationship you have with your dad, it’ll probably lead you to drinking. After that, there’s a whole lotta spoilers that I don’t want to give away…
CRAP-DAMNIT!!! It’s done. This series has been one that I absolutely loved from start to finish. They did a fantastic job of ending on a bittersweet hopeful ending. Donny Cates’ writing has been awesome and Geoff Shaw’s work is about the best I’ve seen in a while. For a couple of newcomers, this book was amazingly addictive. I’m sure there could be another run, but they did such a good job tying everything together it would be weird if they did more. But hey, if Dark Horse DOES do another round of Buzzkill, this guy will be first in line. Seriously, get this whole series. 4 issues of amazing. Crap-damnit.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Eduardo Francisco
Captain Midnight is like Cap America. That’s been said before and it’s not hidden. Last issue it was a corporation lead by some sympathetic to National Socialism. He’s fought other people who thought they were heroes and given modern whippersnappers what for! This issue starts where I don’t think Cap ‘Merica ever went, his wonderful toys. What’s nice about Captain Midnight is they can add in other little gadgets along the way. It’s not just a dude with a shield. Capt. Midnight also has some secrets and he’s trying to get them figured out before they catch up with him. They introduce a villain called “The Hollow” who seems kind of like a Bane rip off, but hey, who cares? I haven’t read any of the old re-issues of Captain Midnight that they’ve been releasing, but I’d be curious if things like his plane and other gadgets were featured back then.
So far Cap Midnight is interesting. This issue may have been a building issue. I like when they have a bit more of the ‘man-out-of-time’ issues, but some of the intrigue built is still a good read. I don’t know how much I want to read this character beating up (and getting beat up) by spandex villains. I want him to bust up more Nazi corporations, but in order to get there, we gotta get through some issues like these. I wouldn’t recommend this issue to start with, because it’s not representative of the overall arc that these guys have been crafting.
Criminal Macabre The Eyes of Frankenstein
Story: Steve Niles
Art: Christopher Mitten
Lousy, no-good, double-crossing, sorcerers of the black arts! You just can’t trust ‘em. Through this run of Criminal Macabre, Cal McDonald has been chasing down Frankenstein’s Monster to get him a new pair of peepers. They’ve had to team up with Hemlock, the duplicitous scoundrel I started this review with. So we get a big old dark-arts fight. Cal is put in some weird limbo world and has to fight creature after creature summoned by Hemlock. In the true spirit of Christmas, Steve Niles gives the main character a gift with no gift receipt, big ol’ Danzig style black wings. That’s not telling, as it’s on the cover.
It’s been said that Steve Niles doesn’t know how to close out a story, but this present has been wrapped up so pretty and sitting underneath the tree. No kidding, this was a fun end to the Eyes of Frankenstein. I like the humor and I’m not sure where they are going to go with it from here. I like the ensemble cast of misfits and it looks like Cal is continually going to get the raw deal. I hope the next installment of this comes out soon. Criminal Macabre’s strength has been in the dark humor and light-heartedness within the series. Obviously don’t start with this one. Start at the top or wait for the trade, but this is a series that you should open before Christmas.
Story: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Chris Sebela
Art: Ryan Sook
Ghost has been around for years. I remember seeing issues at a comic book shop I used to work at and in late-adolescence only picked up an issue when the character was kissing another girl on the cover. So, I’m glad that they’re picking the series up again and now that I’m much older and wiser (not much), I can read an appreciate what the series is all about. Ghost (Elisa Cameron) has the ability to see demons that are using human hosts and hunts them down. She can fade in and out of the corporeal world. This issue starts out with her killing the Mayor to get to the demon inside, and that’s where it STARTS. There’s a detective that appears to be tracking a killer. I’m not sure if the killer is our protagonist yet, but that would be a cool story line.
For a number one, I like where it’s starting. It’s delivering a good all-angles approach to writing. The art reminds me of young Tony Harris (whose style I love). Sook does a great job of crafting a panel while DeConnik and Sebela are able to develop tension in the writing. I’m glad that this book is being written by a female, because it really gives Elisa the feeling of being a woman. She (so far) isn’t overly sexualized and she isn’t a tank. There’s delicateness to her, which is important for her character. Though she’s written delicately, she’s still effectively a demon hunter. I’d recommend this book. It’s maybe not for action seekers, but there’s a nice story haunting the pages of Ghost.
Writers: Art Baltazar and Franco
Art: Art Baltazar
There’s a pool party and everyone is invited! Even the bad guys! That’s one of the more endearing feature in this comic, is that even though they aren’t such good friends, Itty Bitty Hellboy and the rest of the Lil’ BPRD still invite them to things. Good life lessons here folks! We have Johann finding out if he can go into water and then hot sauce hi-jinx.
Once again, Franco and Baltazar make a fun comic that’s just nice to read. Sure, it’s not laugh out loud funny the whole time, but it never bums me out. Itty Bitty Hellboy is super positive and if that and friendship is the only thing a young reader gets out of this, then it has done its job. Wanna by this copy for your kid? Do it. Each issue is self contained and doesn’t involve too many big words, so early readers shouldn’t have any problems giving it a whirl.
Scrip: Victor Gischler
Art Juan Ferreryra
Beefcake Barnibus is out putting the old dame that died last issue down in a hole when mini-skirted vixen witch wants to get some. Things get nuts as another magician shows up. Unfortunately for everybody, muscles Mcgee has a pendant that wards off magics. A main character dies, a bit of combat, a bit of sexy-time, a bitty person floating around and talking to Barnibus.
I don’t know what happened. I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue I read of this and like a third trip up to a buffet, it’s all just regret. Maybe I expected the women in this comic to actually do ANYTHING and be the ones in charge that I feel so let down about where it’s going. I essentially don’t care about any of the characters anymore. Barnibus is too cool for school and the other character that is left seems to be purely a sex-drone. I think writers and artists that can’t write female characters should just replace the dames with one giant anthropomorphic boob on legs. One issue remains and I’m sure it will end predictably. Pass.
Written By Brian Wood
Art By Garry Brown
I’m relatively new to the Massive, so I didn’t know the main character Callum is dying of cancer, so that reveal in the first couple pages made the rest of the book waaay more tense. At the end of the last book, Callum has shot the leader of a group of Norse whalers and is now tracking him down. The two enemies have a past and this isn’t a cliche’ cat-and-mouse hunt. The end wraps up nicely but also opens more windows for the story to be continued with another tale.
By gosh, the Massive is a WHALE of a time! H’yuck. This series has been such a great ride. I love when comic books, like The Massive, can be about something so banal but come off so rich and robust. Garry Brown’s art is stunning in the way that it entirely personify Wood’s words. I’m definitely going to be buying the first couple of trades of this book to see where the story started. I know I’m missing something from some of the earlier series, but if you’re interested, this is book 3 of 3, so start with the first book of the three (issue 16).
Written by Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride
Art: Robert Love
Never Ending is one of those looking at the idea of Superman in a different lens kinds of books. Instead of being like “ooo this is Superman ready to destroy the world,” Never Ending pokes at the fact that these heroes are still the same age after decades of battling the end of the world.
In this issue we get more into the main character’s family and inside his head. We’ve got his nemesis floating around him and trying to ultimately be his undoing, but in a weirdly positive way. For the most part, the hero has given up. He’s outlived his wife, his son is old and dying and he’s still essentially a good young early thirty-something. The writing style goes from campy to dark, right along with the writing styles of the times written (60’s-90’s-2030’s).
This book has some great things going for it. The art still doesn’t have me, but the story does. For some reason this harkens back to The Incredibles for me. One of those so simple stories it should’ve been written a hundred times already, but it hasn’t.
One of my favorite things that this comic does, is it investigates the micro. Sure, there’s big bad stuff this guy could be fighting, but the worst enemy he has to fight is the will to keep fighting. After several decades, he’s done, he’s giving up and that’s something we can all relate to. I love superhero stories like this because they shine a light more on the everyday acts that make one a hero. This book, even though looking at it, might not look like it, is far more than a spandex book. It’s got a lot of heart, and I urge anyone to give it a try! Start with number one!
Story: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art Laurence Campbell
In the same fashion as a Lobster Johnson, Sledgehammer 44 is a throwback to the Big One with a tale of grit and moxie. An American soldier is being held by some Nazi scum and the U.S. is flying in their man-tank, Sledgehammer, to take him back. Unfortunately, the Nazis have a super-being in their fold as well. The Sledgehammer is a ghost in armor. He’s battling his faith as he has one foot in the grave and has scene what lies beyond. The feel of the book is very faithful to old war films or Sgt. Rock comics.
Sledgehammer 44 is the creepiest book about WWII I’ve ever read. Sure it’s got the stiff-upper-lip of a war book, but the art does such an amazing job of creating a sense of dread and foreboding. The Nazis in this book are cold and calculating. Their accommodating which for some reason makes it even worse. The big bad guy is just damn creepy. Yeah, parallels could be drawn to ghost riders, but because of Laurence Campbell’s style he looks absolutely macabre, but the writing has him bathed in mystery.
If there were a score to this book, it would vacillate between snare drums and somber/screeching cellos. The writing, as stated is pretty nostalgic, but it never feels like it’s trying to hard or pandering. It left me feeling sad for some reason. The Sledgehammer character just feels so doomed and hopelessly lost. This isn’t a great issue to start with, but if war and horror stories appeal to you, this is a great comic.
Writer: Mac Walters
Penciller: Matthew Clark
Inker: Sean Parsons
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Vincent: Not much to say about this one. Just kind of picked it up to read and I have no idea who the characters are or what their motivations are. Didn’t really care about anything happening, but I’m starting off 6 issues in. Art isn’t too bad. That’s all I can say.
Writer: Justin Aclin
Artist: Nicolás Daniel Selma
Vincent: We’re finally on the third of four issues of S.H.O.O.T. First! I’ve really liked the covers so far and I think #3 is the best. This would make a really nifty print. Hint. Hint.
In this issue the team is off chasing fairies (literally) while one of their own is being a jerk and betraying them. Should have known it would have been the ugliest one, this is why I don’t trust ugly people.
There’s lots of over the top magical stuff in the creatures that works. Sometimes I wonder if the creatures really look like that, or if that’s just our perceptions of those beings trying to make sense of them. There’s a neat twist and we’re all set up for the next issue.
I think this issue is my favorite so far. It again makes me mad that there’s only four issues total of this series. Argh! Make more of this! It’s got a lot of great momentum now.
Story: Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Script: David Lapham
Art: Mike Huddleston
For the life of me, I can’t remember what happened last issue. That seems to be the case when I open every issue of The Strain. Here we have the alcoholic being questioned and then wined and dined by a higher-class vampire. The older bookish gentleman is in meetings as well. The virus of vampirism is still spreading through New York, but we are learning more and more about the vampire society.
I don’t know what makes most of the story lines in The Strain pretty forgettable. I like it while I’m reading it, but then it’s gone from my mind in a flash. The Strain is a pretty thick read, but for some reason I genuinely feel a little lost while picking up each issue.
The thing about The Strain is, even though I am confused a lot by who someone is or why they are about to do something… like stab their own mother(?), I don’t have the urge to go back and read the start of the story. maybe if Dark Horse does a dollar book on the first issue I’d read it, but in a sea of so many good titles, this one is good, but not great.
However, last month’s Dark Horse Presents offered one of the best stories in this universe that makes me think that there will be more great things on the horizon for this story. I like the caste system within the vampires, but I want to know why there are some that act like Methuselahs in Vampire the Masquerade, and others that look like they are in Will Smith’s “I am Le-jiggy”. If you’re interested, I know there is at least one trade. I’d start there, because all in all, it’s a good book about vampires… Vampires just aren’t MY most favoritest things.
Vincent’s Viewpoint: Digga D nailed it, I can’t remember what happened in previous issues of The Strain when I read it. I always feel like I’m missing chunks of the story. This is really due to the fact that there are so many characters in this huge setting. I think The Strain would be best read all in one chunk or large chunks at least, not with a month break between issues. Or if The Strain TV show actually happens (oh please, oh please) you could just watch that.
Regardless, even though I’m not super into vampires, I really love The Strain. The large scope of the story, the atmosphere, and the characters really do a lot for me. I just wish I would remember what was going on! I’m going to make it my mission to pick up trades of this series.
Writers: Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman
Artist: Brian Thies
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Vincent: I really haven’t been keeping up with Star Wars Legacy. I kind of knew what was going on in the old series, but I’m not really sure what’s happening here. It’s also a little confusing that it has the same title as the one with Cade Skywalker. Couldn’t they have subtitled the subtitle? Something like, Star Wars Legacy: Legacy of other People who Aren’t Cade Skywalker would have worked.
Anyway, the art is pretty cool on this series. It’s stylized without being too stylized. As far as the story goes, with the catch up at the beginning and the events of the story I could follow along pretty well. About half way through the bad guys do a bad guy thing that I totally wouldn’t have expected. It’s pretty low. Like Nazi low. However, it ends all right and that wraps up this particular story arc. I’m still not totally drawn in like I was with the original Legacy comics, but I’ll keep checking out an issue or two to see if I’m pulled in. There’s enough here to keep me somewhat interested.
Writer: John Ostrander
Penciller: Jan Duursema
Inker: Dan Parsons
Colorist: Wes Dzioba
Vincent: I hadn’t read the first issue despite Digga’s review which intrigued me. So after reading the catch up text, I was ready for Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi.
Going in you must know that Dawn of the Jedi takes place a long, long time ago. No, even longer than you might think! It takes place well before the Knights of the Old Republic Era. It’s so long ago that the Jedi are the Je’Daii. Some things never change though, there’s still starships and lightsabers.
You know, I think instead of seeing starfighters they should tone the technology down a bit. Maybe they can only get around in large slow ships? Or they all need giant, stationary hyperspace gates to move around? I find it hard to believe that the technology has changed very little for literally thousands of years. THOUSANDS!
There’s a lot of talking and drama that was pretty interesting and then there was a battle and then… there was the flying rancor. I can’t say Digga D didn’t warn me. Still, it’s pretty jarring. Regardless, the art is pretty cool, the dialog is decent sci-fi fare. If you are fairly heavily invested in Star Wars you should check this out. If you like sci-fi in general, you might like this. Personally, I’ll be checking in occasionally to see what’s going on, but I’m not super into it after this one issue.
Script: Tim Siedell
Art: Gabrial Guzman
Vincent: Back in my day Darth Vader was a bad guy and he didn’t star in the comics! Okay with that out of the way, this is the second Darth Vader series I’ve seen from Dark Horse and it starts off pretty great compared to that other one.
We’ve got a retired (of sorts) Jedi telling us about these stories he’s heard of a dark warrior on the battlefield. Cry of Shadows takes place in one of my new favorite Star Wars eras, after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope. The only thing I don’t like is that the clone trooper narrator hates the Jedi because he fell out of a Gunship and the Jedi failed to save him or go back to get him. Out of anyone, a clone trooper should figure out that shit happens to soldiers all the time, but I guess we can roll with it and see what this series has to offer.
Vincent: It’s all come to a head! The Jedi who are on lam finally meet the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader! This comic is so tight. Yes, I said tight. I love how the battle proceeded slowly over a few issues. In this one the Clones have made it across the bridge, but fall into another trap. You know that ultimately the Jedi will fail, but you cheer every small victory that they get. I’m not going to say what happens, but some heroes manage to make it out and if they didn’t it would be the end of the series.
Overall I’m still loving Star Wars Dark Times, however I’m not sure how long the series will be able to sustain it’s Jedi on the run premise without getting stale. Hopefully it will be a long time from now.