Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dark Horse Presents #12

Written by John Layman, John Arcudi, Carla Speed McNeil, Steve Niles, Evan Dorkin, Tim Seeley, Francesco Francavilla, Dean Motter, Mike Baron, Harlan Ellison, and Mike Russell
Art by Sam Kieth, Jonathan Case, Carla Speed McNeil, Christopher Mitten, Evan Dorkin, Victor Drujiniu, Francisco Francavilla, Dean Motter, Steve Rude, Richard Corben, Mike Russell, and Geof Darrow

A few new serials begin with this issue of Dark Horse Presents, which is always a good thing, as it shows that this title is constantly evolving and trying new things, or as is more the case with this issue, returning to its roots.

One of the new series is Mister X, Dean Motter's classic examination of the effect of architecture on weak minds, set in a Deco-styled environment.  I've been a fan of this series for a long time, so it's very nice to see it come back, even if this first installment is mostly just set-up for a new story involving the kidnapping of an heir to a pyschotropic pharmaceutical empire.

We also see the return of Aliens to DHP.  This property is one of the ones that Dark Horse made its name by publishing back in the day, but this first chapter didn't do much for me.  John Layman's writing was fine (if miles away from the tone he uses on Chew), but Sam Kieth couldn't make up his mind between drawing beautiful and detailed images (the first three pages) or aping Kyle Baker at his worst (the rest of it).

Also showing up for the first time in many years is Mike Baron and Steve Rude's Nexus, which I've never read before now.  I wasn't too impressed, really.  This reads like an Adam Strange story, and while Rude's art is always lovely, I wouldn't pursue this story into its own title.

There is also a prose story by Harlan Ellison, with a couple of illustrations by Richard Corben.  I've always admired Ellison more in terms of reputation than his actual writing, and this story did not hold my interests.  Likewise, I had to give up on Evan Dorkin's story about zombie cosplayers, which was way too wordy for me.

The new chapter of Finder, however, was brilliant once again.  Carla Speed McNeil has Jaeger examining the region called Third World, and this leads to some interesting conversations about class distinction, 'First World' ego, and the place of nomadic tribes like the Ascians in the world.  I miss her detailed footnotes, but am extremely happy whenever another chapter of Finder shows up.

I also enjoyed the new chapters of Francavilla's Black Beetle and Seeley and Drujiniu's The Occultist.  Arcudi and Case's The Creep was also very good.  The Criminal Macabre story held my interests more than it usually does too.

In all, another successful issue for this meaty anthology comic.

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