Friday, February 3, 2012

Dark Horse Presents #8

Written by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Evan Dorkin, Tony Puryear, Neal Adams, Howard Chaykin, Alan Gordon, Brian Wood, Martin Conaghan, Rich Johnston, and MJ Butler
Art by Duncan Fegredo, Jill Thompson, Tony Puryear, Neal Adams, Howard Chaykin, Thomas Yeates, Kristian Donaldson, Jimmy Broxton, Simon Rohrmüller, and Mark Wheatley

There are a lot of new things popping up in Dark Horse Presents lately, as some of the inaugural series in this anthology have conclude or gone on hiatus.  With these new stories come some big-name creators, and some people with whom I'm unfamiliar but am very curious to see more from.

This issue starts with a Kate Corrigan story.  Kate is a central character in Mike Mignola's BPRD, and in this story she reacts to the news of Hellboy's death, after meeting his companion Alice in a cemetery in England.  Some of the emotion in this story feels a little forced, and I found myself much more interested in what was happening between Kate and her German boyfriend Bruno than I was in the death of Hellboy.

There is an excellent Beasts of Burden story by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, involving our usual cast of animals meeting a group of strange sheep one day.  Dorkin and Thompson have just about perfected their approach to these horror stories that feature talking animals.  Normally, I'd stay away from something like this, but these two have made these characters so loveable, and their stories so sad and loving, that I can't stay away.  This is one of the best comics being made these days.

I continue to be very interested in Tony Puryear's Concrete Park.  It's a near-future gangster science fiction story, and while he's still really just establishing characters and their relationships to one another, I find it pretty fascinating.  I've always been drawn to strong world-building in comics, and I'm appreciating the level of thought and planning on display in this series.

Howard Chaykin's Marked Man ends well.  I haven't always enjoyed this story of a hired thief and assassin who, after many years of successfully anonymous crime, is exposed, and his family killed.  He gets his revenge in this chapter, and Chaykin makes some interesting choices.

There is a very strange Tarzan story that starts in this issue.  It's set in a future world where most of our world lies in ruin.  Tarzan lives in a series of hidden apartments which are also greenhouses (I think), and gets approached by some people to do something.  Really, I think I need to read this again.  I did enjoy Thomas Yeates's art, which always looks so old school and so great.  This story reminded me a lot of Arvid Nelson's Zero Killer series of a few years back.

Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson's new series The Massive debuts here, although what all it's going to be about is not yet clear.  We do get some very cool visuals of an independent military contractor being the only survivor after an oil rig that has been taken over by eco-terrorists gets buffeted by insanely strong waves.  It's Wood, so I know this is going to be great.

Martin Conaghan (who?) and Jimmy Broxton (who I loved on Knight & Squire, and who has reached some internet notoriety of late over his involvement in the failed Kickstarter sequel to Smoke) give us a very cool done-in-one story about time travel and cloning (two things which should never mix).

Rich Johnston, of Bleeding Cool fame, starts off a new series here, 'The Many Murders of Miss Cranborne.'  This is about a little old British lady who kills men of the cloth who she believes are not pure in their intent.  With Simon Rohrmüller's art, and the doughty speech patterns of the murderess, we are strongly in Agatha Christie meets Rick Geary territory, and I love it.

There are also new chapters of Skultar, which is kind of funny, and Neal Adams's Blood, which is still god-awful.  It's a shame there isn't a new chapter of Finder this month - that would have made this just about perfect.

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