Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dark Horse Presents #18

Written by Joshua Williamson, Carla Speed McNeil, Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas, Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Corben, Dara Naraghi, Phil Stanford, Peter Hogan, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Colin Lorimer, and Mike Richardson
Art by Victor Ibáñez, Carla Speed McNeil, Ulises Farinas, Richard Corben, Victor Santos, Patric Reynolds, Steve Parkhouse, Steve Lieber, Colin Lorimer, and Ron Chan

This issue of Dark Horse Presents is much stronger than some of the recent issues, as some new serials begin, some of the better ones continue or return, and we are given an excellent one-off memoir.

The book opens with a story about Captain Midnight, by Joshua Williamson and Victor Ibáñez.  A WWII plane comes flying out of the Bermuda Triangle, piloted by the Captain, who ends up on the deck of a US aircraft carrier.  It's clear that he is lost in time.  What's not clear is if this is a new character or one that has shown up before (the title loudly proclaims that he 'returns').  All I know is that I enjoyed this story, but I'm not familiar with this character.

From there, we get a new chapter of Finder, my now-favourite science fiction comic.  Jaegar is in a city he hasn't been to before, where it appears that all the citizens suffer from something called Apex Sudden Death Syndrome.  Consequently, no one goes outside, and are instead represented by different types of holographic avatars.  This is pretty typical work from Carla Speed McNeil - it's dense with ideas and characterization, and there is a general assumption that we already know what she's talking about, even though these ideas are brand new.  I'm completely hooked on this serial.

After that comes 'Gamma', a new serial by Ulises Farias and Erick Freitas.  It's a bizarre little story that starts off being about a 'coward' who hangs out a bar all day, where people pay $50 to punch him in the face.  Later, he's asked to help a battered woman stand up to her husband, and suddenly this story is about people using holographic 'monsters' to fight each other.  Farias's art has a bit of a Brandon Graham meets Moebius vibe to it, so I'm on board.

Richard Corben gives us another adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe poem or short story, and as is always the case with these things, it's lovely and odd.

One of the best pieces this month is Dara Naraghi's memoir of growing up on the shore of the Caspian Sea in Iran.  It's lovingly illustrated by Victor Santos, and very nicely evokes a lost time and place.  I really wish we'd see more things like this in anthologies and comics in general.

Resident Alien, which is an excellent series, returns this month with a strangely-paced story.  It opens with a dream shared between the alien doctor's assistant and her grandfather (I think?), before we move back in time three years, and see the US military men who found the doctor's spacecraft, as they investigate his arrival on Earth.  I'm not sure where this is leading, but I'm happy to see more of this story.

Alabaster returns, and City of Roses continues, but neither really grab my attention.  I feel the same about The Secret Order of the Teddy Bears, which is an all-ages story that is lacking the complexity of some of the other all-ages pieces that have run in this book (I'm thinking of Beasts of Burden, which is brilliant).

UXB, another on-going serial, continues to mystify me in its lack of narrative cohesion.  I really do not understand what is going on in this series.

Still, this is a very successful issue overall.

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