Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dark Horse Presents #14

Written by John Layman, Carla Speed McNeil, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Dean Motter, Mark Verheiden, Bryan Oh, Tony Puryear, Mike Baron, Bo Hampton, Robert Tinnell, Chad Lambert, Michael Avon Oeming, Nate Cosby, George Schall, Rodrigo Alonso, and Kim W. Anderson
Art by Sam Kieth, Carla Speed McNeil, Phil Noto, Dean Motter, Mark Nelson, Tony Puryear, Steve Rude, Bo Hampton, Apri Kusbiantoro, Michael Avon Oeming, Evan Shaner, George Schall, and Kim W. Anderson

This month, Dark Horse Presents is 104 pages long.  Take in the fact that that is equivalent to more than five comics from Marvel or DC, which could run you between 14.95 and 19.95, yet this book only costs $7.99.  Clearly, the fine people at Dark Horse know how to give you value for your money.  Even if you don't love every story in here, you only need to love half of them or less to feel that you got your money's worth, right?

For me, as always, the Finder story is worth the price of admission.  This month's instalment is great.  Jaegar is still hanging out in Third World, the contested and unorganized region far outside the domed cities or tribal lands where he usually spends his time.  He comes across a cemetery in a field that is at the centre of a large, and loud, dispute between various factions.  It seems that a hotel corporation wants to build on the field, and were paying to relocate the bodies buried there.  That's all good, but a large number of previously unknown bodies have been found, and they are clearly Ascian.  Ascians, like Jaegar, are an indigenous people in McNeil's world, and the story can be read as a comment on problems that exist in North America today around sacred Aboriginal ground and the balancing act needed between tradition, cultural sensitivity, and the needs of commerce and current lifestyles.  But, this being Finder, it's not long before Jaegar finds himself stuck in the middle, and being perhaps, the only person who can resolve this issue, whether he wants to or not.  Great stuff, although I was hoping we'd see a little more of Professor Shar.

Also of note this month is the return of Tony Puryear's excellent Concrete Park strip.  It's been a little while, so I was a little lost as to what's going on, but I'm really enjoying Puryear's gangsta sci-fi.

Dean Motter's Mister X wrapped up in this issue.  This was a good enough story, but not among Motter's greatest.  Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto's Ghost works well, and John Layman and Sam Kieth's Aliens is much improved.

Nexus, by Mike Baron and Steve Rude, still doesn't appeal to me, but I did make it through this whole story about invasive alien bugs and a creepy space ship that has been in orbit around Ylam for fourteen years.

There are a number of new strips that debut this month.  Some are one-offs, and others are set to continue.  Some, I'm not sure if this is it or not.  Mark Verheiden (been a long time since I've seen his name), Bryan Oh, and Mark Nelson have a good story about humans fighting an alien invasion in Falling Skies.  It's a little familiar, but it's well told. 

Bo Hampton and Robert Tinnell begin Riven, a creepy monster story involving a strange little girl adopted out of a Romanian orphanage right after Ceaucescu's regime fell.  This story is full of suspense, and hinges on many successful little details.  I was pretty impressed by it, and look forward to seeing where it goes.

Radio Ga Ga is a memoir by Chad Lambert and drawn by Apri Kubiantoro (whose work reminds me of Francesco Francavilla, only rougher).  Lambert tells a story about his radio days, when a joke he made on the air was reported to the Secret Service as a threat to President Clinton's life.  Lambert writes this like a Harvey Pekar story, a fact driven home as he narrates it in a comic store, in front of an issue of American Splendor.  I love this story simply for the fact that it references WKRP...

Michael Avon Oeming's Wild Rover is a dark little tale about a man who is convinced that his vices are being caused by an evil entity in his stomach.  This is a very piercing story that shows a side of Oeming that I haven't seen in his work before.

Buddy Cops, by Nate Cosby and Evan Shaner, is a fun little strip about a Green Lantern-like galactic protector who has been demoted to serving on the NYPD, and his super-serious android partner.  It's cute.

A Spy Dream, by George Schall with writing assist by Rodrigo Alonso is a very cool little story about a female spy who dreams about settling down with her lover, who is on the other side, or is conversely about a bored housewife who dreams about being a spy.  It's beautifully drawn.

Finally (I'm not going to mention the short humour strips, as they don't appeal to me at all), there's Love Hurts, Kim W. Anderson's strip about a woman who meets the perfect guy in the park.  There's a sinister side to his knowledge of all her favourite things though.  It doesn't help that the guy looks just like Steve Buscemi.

In all, a very satisfying heap of comics for a good price.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting.