Friday, March 23, 2012

Dark Horse Presents #10

Written by Brian Wood, Colin Lorimer, Carla Speed McNeil, Steve Niles, Evan Dorkin, Alan Gordon, Steve Horton, Andrew Vachss, MJ Butler, and Rich Johnston
Art by Kristian Donaldson, Colin Lorimer, Carla Speed McNeil, Christopher Mitten, Evan Dorkin, Thomas Yeates, Michael Dialynas, Geof Darrow, Mark Wheatley, and Simon Rohrmüller

Anthologies can be hit or miss, and where the last few issues of Dark Horse Presents have been terrific, this one came off feeling rather lacking.

As always, to begin with the positive:

Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson's The Massive has definitely caught my attention.  So far, each chapter has been used to introduce a new character, and to establish that all of them have almost died at sea, only to be saved, or brought back by it.  I really have no idea where this comic is headed, but the three-page overview of various key moments in the history of oceanic environmental degradation is enough to get me to add the upcoming series to my pull-file.  I trust Wood to impress me.

There is a new series debuting in this issue called UXB, by Colin Lorimer, an artist I'm unfamiliar with.  It's yet another post-apocalyptic story, where people roam the ruins of our civilization wearing environmental protective apparati that look a little like high-tech codpieces.  Again, not much is revealed here, except that our trio of heroes are on the search for old DVDs, and the consequences of giving them nothing but Pretty Woman and the Backstreet Boys aren't pretty.  I really don't know where this is going either, but Lorimer has my attention.

Carla Speed McNeil's Finder returns after a pause of a few months.  Now, Finder was my great discovery of 2011, and I can't praise it enough (you really should click on the link and give yourself a treat), so I'm always excited to dive into a new story.  This one could probably have used McNeil's usual annotations though, as I'm more than a little lost.  Jaeger finds himself well and truly lost after the events of the last chapter (whenever that was), but, because he is a Finder, and kind of lucky, he quickly runs in to an old acquaintance.  I just wish that a little more happened in this story, and that I knew what the deal is with the flying Chinese dragon-train thing at the end.  Still, I love McNeil's work.

Rich Johnston's 'The Many Murders of Miss Cranbourne' finishes up this issue, and continues to be quite decent.

From here, we move into stories that I didn't necessarily dislike, but that I wouldn't pursue were they to get their own title:

The Tarzan story by Alan Gordon and Thomas Yeates is an odd throwback, and I found my attention wavering while reading this chapter.  I don't know that I can handle a post-Apocalyptic immortal Tarzan, especially just after reading another post-Apocalyptic strip a few pages previous.

The 'Amala's Blade' and 'Skultar' stories are fine.  They just aren't my thing.  I feel the same way about the Cal MacDonald story by Niles and Mitten.  I've just never warmed to Niles's writing, no matter what he does. 

There's a prose story by Andrew Vachss in this issue, which has lovely illustrations from the ever-talented Geof Darrow.  Now, I always associate Vachss's name with brutal stories about children being murdered or abused, because I read some pretty dark stuff from him years ago, and basically avoided his work forever after.  This story is dark, but not as brutal, as it is concerned with an aging man who is not able to accept his growing diminishment. It's rough, but there it is.

Finally, this issue features two stories by Evan Dorkin.  One is a short Milk and Cheese piece, while the other features a Munsters/Addams Family parody called The Murder Family.  I didn't finish either story.  I don't see how Dorkin, who has written such haunting and nuanced work in Beasts of Burden, also churns out such predictable, juvenile, and un-funny junk.  I know that Milk and Cheese have their fans, I just don't understand why.

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