Digga D’s Dark Horse Saddle-up! Goons, Hellboys, and Conans!

Digga D   November 27, 2013   Comments Off on Digga D’s Dark Horse Saddle-up! Goons, Hellboys, and Conans!

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Abe Sapien #1 for a buck!

Story: Scott Allie and Mike Mignola
Art Sbasti’an Fiumara

So to get people to try out their comics, companies are doing some supersmart things… like selling their flagship stories for a buck. Here we have Abe Sapien from BPRD and Hellboy. It’s great that our favorite fish-guy gets his own story and this is an awesome one. Abe was stabbed and in a coma for months. Somehow he escaped and the government has no idea where he is. Cut to a bunch of hobos on a train going on about how the government is to blame for all the new big uglies rising out of the ocean and elsewhere. Abe is found out to be amongst them and a ruckus begins.

This book is awesome. I’ve enjoyed Hellboy for quite sometime and it’s great to see Abe become a staple in the Dark Horse universe. The story here is great, and getting a peak into where it goes definitely helps. The art here is amazing. Plain and simple, Fiumara needs to keep working with Mignola. It’s the best art pairing to his writing yet. For a buck, do yourself a favor and get it. It’s an awesome read.

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Victories #1 for a buck!

Story and Art: Michael Avon Oeming

Number one for a buck! You know how I feel about it. I’ve been able to read later issues of the Victories and it’s cool to see how it started. Here we have a BRILLIANT opening painting a city of darkness. Using illumination discussions really set the tone. From there we have a crooked judge on a horse drawn ride with his wife. A wolf man shows up, decapitates the judge all the while speaking about how he’s what’s wrong with the city. Then Faustus shows up and takes care of business. Then, cut to media interpretation and the back to the mind of our “hero.”

I think this book is great. It’s smart and does what any art form should by showing how we really regard the world around us. How many of us are sick of crooked officials? Show of hands? Oh everyone… Do we want to see horrible things happen to them? Show of hands, well mixed. This book does a great service to spandex heroes. It has gore and swearing, but unlike Garth Ennis’ writing, Oeming uses it to punctuate not shock. The art is perfect for the book and I want to keep reading more. Once again, if you have 4 quarters plus tax swimming around in your pocket, give this a whirl. For less than a Vente coffee at Starbuckeroos you can get this and Abe Sapien! Your enjoyment of them will last longer than your yummy drink will.

Vincent’s Comments: I’ve fallen hard for Victories. Buy it.

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Captain Midnight: #5

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Story so far: Captain Midnight is a man out of time. From fighting Nazis in the big one he is then lost in the Bermuda Triangle and was considered dead. Now he’s back and is trying to figure it out. Last issue we had him learning that the Nazis could be alive and well, but operating as more of a corporation. A modern day patriot, a “Skyman” has rigged a bomb to explode to take care of the situation. This issue we’ve got Captian Midnight trying to get the Skyman to change his mind. However, like all things, the ideas of fair play have changed. Even though civilians may be involved, the Skyman thinks they are collateral damage and points out that Captian Midnight did the same to Nazi camps in the WW2. That’s about all I can say without ruining anything.

I like this story. I’m not sure if this issue grabbed me like last one, but I think that’s because I knew what to expect. I really like the idea of nostalgia vs. the evolution of pragmatism. The writing is clever and the art is spot on for what it should be. There are tons of surprises in the story and it certainly doesn’t follow the standard script. If you like Captain America stories, this one is for you. I’m not going to say it’s better than the Brubaker run of ol’ Cappy, but it’s certainly as good. I like where it’s going and every issue ends with a good twist.

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Criminal Macabre: The Eyes of Frankenstein #3

Story: Steve Niles
Art: Christopher Mitten

Cal McDonald is a ghoul and pals around with ghouls and in this issue, he is palling around with Frankenstein’s Monster, who wants to be called “Adam”. Along with this motley crew is a master of the Arcane arts: Dr. Hemlock. Adam is having trouble seeing and Cal and Mo’Lok are in a eye-vault dealing with a monster. Apparently, that may not be the only monster they are dealing with… in multiples of non-spoiling ways. One un-spoilerific thing is Cal may be infected with more than just a ghoul parasite and the police are tracking down a killer.

This book is a fun read. The way Frankenstein, sorry, Adam is written is so innocent that you can’t help but love him. I love juxtapositions like this. You know you are supposed to be afraid yet feel for the monster from the old Universal days, or even way back to the Mary Shelly book. The fact that this book has Macabre in it, don’t be afraid of it being “too dark to be good.” It’s funny, it’s heart felt and even though it deals with ghouls, there is a whole heck of a lot of life in this book. I would recommend this book to just about anyone. Even if you’re like me and see Steve Niles and normally scoff, this one is definitely one of his better endeavors.

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Conan and the people of the Black Circle #2

Script: Fred Van Lente
Art: Ariel Olivetti

Conan and some lady have fled their castle to get an army if I remember correctly. There is a vile sorcerer and an evil queen working against them. Conan meets with an arm of what looks like classic Turks and they begin discussing plans. Evil McSorcerer is conjuring the dark arts to be rid of the barbarian king. Like all other Conan books, there’s a lot of action and very little growth in Conan as a character.

Okay, the art here would be a good reason to get this book if you like Conan. I’m not a huge fan of the books, but there was some interesting things going on. I would like to see Conan past his prime and grown as a character. I just feel like this character is frozen in stasis. Even Batman has had more growth than this guy. There isn’t a whole lot in the story that makes me say this is a good book to read. It feels just like any other Conan book.

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The Goon #44

By Eric Powell

I fricking love the Goon. I have since Matty showed it to me way back when and I’ve been collecting it for years. Powell has taken some crazy stories and weaved them into this character’s story. He’s given this thuggish El Bruto growth beyond just a guy that hits stuff and a quirky assistant that knifes zombies in the eye. This comic had me cursing my stupidity at taking German as a foreign language in High School, because it was almost entirely in Spanish. I don’t know why Powell decided to to do that, but it’s pretty awesome that he had the balls to do it. There’s even a quick appearance of my favorite musician of all-time, Tom Waits and Lil’ Jon doing a duet.

Ahhh being white-privileged and American. I’ve never had to worry about comics not being in my language. Well, this comic made me feel like a squiggling tit-baby. Constantly I was like ‘buh… buh… what’s he saying?! WHERE’S THE TRANSLATIONS?! JEEEEEEZZZ!!” I think that was Powell’s intent. Now, that being said, I did save this for my last comic to read because I love the Goon so much and I was a little disappointed. I love Powell’s quirky sense of humor and his art, but I could only enjoy the art and only parts of the writing. This comic did make me realize that I don’t have a Spanish speaking friend close to me that I could have read it to me like it was story-time on a carpet square. Ahhh… being white. I would’ve recommend this book if you’ve never read the Goon before. Start elsewhere and know the character and then get this to complete the journey. If you speak Spanish and can translate it for me, maybe I would change my mind. Who knows, maybe the story in it is so good and that was Powell’s big joke. I may have to plug everything in Google translate and see how messed up this gets.

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Itty Bitty Hellboy

Writers: Art Baltazar and Franco
Art: Art Baltazar

Once again, we get a cutesy Hellboy adventure and they are just that: fun. Hellboy went to Hell last issue, so obviously they have to Heaven this month. God wants to get started with Angel wing training. An alien shows up and then a giant space gorilla. All your favorite Hellboy and BPRD characters are there and are given their chance to shine.

This book is great. There’s not much to review because it’s just a fun little kids book. The art is right on and there are some right-on-the-spot funny moments. If you want a daring book, this isn’t for you. If you want a cartoony book with lewd humor, this isn’t for you… it’s a straight up kids book (you probably want Johnny Ryan). I hope this keeps going for a couple years so that my 5 month old can ask “Can I for to have Hellboy Daddy!?” I will tear up. Seriously.

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The Massive #17

Written by: Brian Wood
Art By Garry Brown

Last month this book BLEW ME AWAY! I had no idea that a book about a crew of people busting illegal whalers could be entertaining, if not a total mind-#%(*. This issue takes off from last month where Callum Isreal and crew are tracking down a group from Norway that is doing what it can to revive the spirits and economy of a town decimated by weather. We get a bit more back story about Callum showing how he knows the group of Longboat riding trollers. However, these guys aren’t just idiots with beards and spears and proceed to outsmart the protagonists and break their spirits further.

Once again, this book has proven itself to be one of the better written comics out today. The art matches the very adult writing (not adult as in tits, but adult as in “this book deserves to be read with a glass of scotch and a pipe”). Wood really pushes the ends-justifying-the-means theme here and at times you don’t feel right about anyone’s decision, ever. It’s great. Normally I enjoy knowing that there is good in the world worth fighting for, but this is NOT one of those books. There are agendas and old axes to grind that get in the way of logic and reason. I saved this book to the end of my monthly readings because I wanted to savor it, and it did a great job of giving me what I was looking forward too; genius writing and rightful indignation. Do not start with this book, start with the last issue… or if you’re like me, you are adding the first couple of trades to your Christmas list.

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Savage Sword #6

Various Artists and writers.

Sweet heavenly ham-gas was this hard to read. In 80 pages of filler we have attempts at writing compelling short stories. The first story is actually passable compared to the rest of the book. If you like poorly written Conan like stories… this collection of the best of the “meh” in comics is for you!

Dark Agnes was barely readable. The third story is laugh out loud terrible. Hey I’m Norse, hey we’re some tribe that all look like Conan. Hey I’m a crazy old shaman and think you shouldn’t be chieftain, whatever bro… MAGIC! Ok, bro jus’ kiddin’, you be chieftain.

The fourth story was an abysmal Conan story. Hey Conan, why are we getting off our horses and walking here? To get ambushed by this chick in a couple panels! Oh sweet, she’s in a bikini. Great! Let’s kidnap her. Oh, she’s cool, bro.

The last book I barely got into. The writing was off form the start and I would much prefer joining the BME Pain Olympics (look it up after your family’s thanksgiving dinner)(Put grandma right up front when you boot it up). These were seriously awful. Does Dark Horse REALLY make enough from Conan that there needs to be two books a week on such a dull and undeveloped character? If you’re going to write Conan, make him fierce. Make him a freaking berserker. Make him something other than what he is now. UGGG PASS PASS PASS!!! This book deserves a special place in Hell.

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Mass Effect #5 Script Walters

Pencils Matthew Clark

I don’t know if this is supposed to link off of last month’s issue or not… But here goes. We have a female lead and a dude that are in a Sci-Fi world where people are just plain tough as nails, bro. The buddy cop team are in a bar, then they’re on a space ship, then they’re looking for someone. There’s a lot of posing… Meh…

This story doesn’t do anything for me. There’s nothing new here. It’s slow and the pacing is weak. I’m sure Dark Horse didn’t put their best writing team on this, as they knew, fans of the video game would try it out. Well, I’ve never played the game. I want to, but this comic certainly doesn’t intrigue me. So far this entire series has been utter schlock. The art isn’t anything to write home about and the script bored me. Dare I use a pun to describe this comic? Ass Effect. Yep, that pun is just about as clever as this book. Pass.

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Never Ending #1

Written By: Adam P. Knave & D.J. Kirkbride
Art by: Robert Love

Never Ending is essentially a giant poke in the eye to the classic superhero trope. The first page is an example of the different time periods in comics complete with time periods and cliche’s from those times saying “Nothing. Ever. Changes.” From that moment I was in. Yeah, this could be another one of those “Superman goes crazy” kind of romps, but it seems like more satire than that. It’s taking the entire comics genre and making fun of a character that never ages and takes it to another level. A lot of this is a purposeful ultra-generic origin story with lots of punching and villainous posturing. He has several different costumes from his various stages: An ultra fifties campy caped crusader look with boots from the 60’s, a trenchcoat and bearded Liefeld rip-off of the 90’s and finally a more sleek hero of 2036.

Like I said, I was into this comic. To be critical, the art and colors are amateur-ish, but the story really shines. I like a lot of of what is going on with the satire, if only the art could accompany the book more. Unfortunately, because of this, I don’t think a lot of people are going to go to their comic store and give it a chance as flipping through it, they won’t that it’s supposed to be cliche’. Oh well. For now, I’ll enjoy the couple of comics I get out of the series before it is inevitably cancelled.

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Sledge-hammer 44 #1

Story: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art: Laurence Campbell

This story is a throw-back to WW2 and some of the early experiments on the US side to win the Big One. We’ve got a pre-WW2 Hitler talking to some crazy looking almost Ghost Rider looking figure. He’s got a skull head surrounded by a darkness. He has some kind of criminal background, but we all know Mr. Toothbrush Mustache is going to use him.

Cut to 1944, we have a giant tank of man… well, actually he used to be a man. Now he’s a soul in a machine. Unfortunately, he’s given up the fight, he’s given up just about everything. He’s been used in battle to incinerate the Germans to do good for the U.S., however this soul is debating if he gave up Heaven for combat glory. I’m not sure if this an internal debate, or one with God. Turns out the skull head guy is being used on U.S. airplanes with much success and has captured some U.S. soldiers. They need this juggernaut to want to fight again and save the troops. A female army specialist that still believes this thing to be human uses anything she can to get his soul to rise up and fight.

This book was freaking great. The art was perfect and the writing was really good. It really gets you into the soul of the machine right away. I love the direction this is going where the soul that has been put into the machine believes his actions will effect his afterlife. He was killed in combat, and the Army somehow transferred his soul here. The writing is brilliant. It never feels silly. The art is also a perfect fit. It feels both subtle, nostalgic and full of melancholy. I’m not sure if that’s because the writing does such a good job getting that across, but good gravy is this worth checking out. If you like steampunk, this has a great subtle steampunk feel. I can’t wait for next issue.

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Star Wars Legacy #9

Script: Corinna Behko and Gabriel Hardman
Art Brian Albert Thies

Starting out this story, Jao and Ania Solo are sinking to the bottom of a poisoned lake after being caught by people that would do that do that sort of thing. Ania’s Mon-Calamarian friend races with a droid to rescue them. A Jedi Imperial knight goes to council. Ania and her crew is saved (like we all know was going to happen) but then they are once again in trouble.
A crazy looking Sith dude may be involved. Just saying…

I think I like this issue better than last. I’m still a little confused as to what’s going on politically, but the dialogue felt better over all. The characters do look kind of cool and the space ships look neat-o. The Sith Lord seems far more evil than his predecessors and that’s a good thing. For some reason, I’m still not 100% into this series yet. It might get there. I like seeing where the future of the SW galaxy is going, but I wonder how much of this continuum is going to be taken out by Abrams new series.

If you’ve been following the series, you’ll be into this issue, but if you’re not, why not check out the $1 #1 I reviewed last week for the series? Add that to the two #1’s for a buck and you got yourself a stew going.

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MIND MGMT #17

By Matt Kindt

I really need to rest of the issues to this to really know what’s going on. I feel like I’m missing something. This, kind of like last issue, feels like an individual story of someone else with some mental power over people. This lady’s ability is to subtly influence people. Nudging them to do things. Some of the things she’d getting them to do is rather unscrupulous.

I’m not sure if this group that she gets involved with are for good or for evil. Not sure. When this group has found her, she is smack dab in the middle of an all out riot in what looks like normally a peaceful little town. Oh… and she’s got gunning people down, which doesn’t seem to bother anyone. That’s why I’m not sure who this group is and what their goal is.

Even though this book is a bit of a mind-@$#%, I really like the feel of MIND MGMT. I’m not sure the art is for everyone, but I like the watercolor/nostalgia of it. It’s got a great narrative in the single issues I’ve read. I really think this book begs to be started from the beginning, and I’ll have to start putting the first couple trades on my Christmas list (along with the Massive) because I really enjoy that writing style and the feel this book gives off.

There’s intrigue and a healthy amount of “WTF” going on. I wouldn’t start with this issue, if you haven’t picked up on that already. There are what look like two groups at play and I want to find out more about those groups. This is a comic I look forward to every month and in my opinion, raises the bar for intelligent writing in comics. Something that I think Dark Horse has been doing with several of their books. What worries in in getting a bunch of these trades, is Mind MGMT feels like it would be better in small bites, not like I’m going to do to that Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Vincent’s Viewpoint: Gobble, gobble.


About Digga D

Dark Horse comics has always meant cutting edge adult comics to me. From when I was in fifth grade, rifling through the “mature readers” sections of comic stores and finding Geof Darrow and Frank Miller’s “Hard Boiled” comics I realized that this is what comic books could be. Bringing home issues of Grendel and Aliens and jumping right into a story that I may not get, I knew I loved the concepts and to this day, I think Dark Horse is still pushing the boundaries in the comic book field. With one of my favorite contemporary comics like The Goon, Dark Horse still gives me pause in local comic shops and at least take a look at what they’re doing, just like I did many years ago. I am super excited to read and review this publisher’s comics for Robots Pajamas!