Friday, January 25, 2013

Dark Horse Presents #20

Written by Michael Avon Oeming, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Geoffrey Thorne, Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas, Frank J. Barbiere, Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman, Joshua Williamson, Peter Hogan, Duane Swierczynski, and Carla Speed McNeil
Art by Michael Avon Oeming, Steve Lieber, Todd Harris, Ulises Farinas, Toby Cypress, Gabriel Hardman, Pere Perez, Steve Parkhouse, Eric Nguyen, and Carla Speed McNeil

More and more, I feel like the lustre is coming off this title, as the serials are increasingly being produced in service of introducing upcoming mini-series, and the sense of getting a complete story out of this rather expensive monthly book is drastically diminished.  In addition, I'm not sure I'm happy about the increased presence of superhero-style stories.  That has never been a particular strength of Dark Horse, yet there seems to be a drive to compete in that area again.

This issue features a Victories story by Michael Avon Oeming.  The Victories is either currently running, or just finished running as a mini-series as well, so this story doesn't feel the need to introduce the characters.  When Oeming writes his own superhero stories, they tend to be pretty bleak (check out his Rapture title of a couple of years ago), and this is no different, with a scene where a father cuts off the head of a dog, and forces it over his own son's head.  This doesn't work for me.

I was enjoying the Captain Midnight story, which ends here without an ending, but instead an ad for an upcoming mini-series.  Both Joshua Williamson and Pere Perez have done nice work on this, but I don't know if it's going to be enough to get me to buy the book when it comes out.

I do know that I don't like X, Dark Horse's answer to the Punisher.  I didn't like the character in the 90s, and I'm not feeling him here under Duane Swierczynski and Eric Nguyen.

In the non-super hero category, the charm of Caitlin R. Kiernan's Alabaster continues to escape me, although I did like this chapter better than the previous ones.

Journeymen is a new series by Geoffrey Thorne and Todd Harris, and I don't really have an opinion of it.  I think it needed more space to grow, as it didn't leave much of an impression either way.

Gamma, the strange story about monsters and cowardice, by Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas, ends on a very good note, as the story becomes one of redemption.  I feel that Farinas is a creator to watch.

Frank Barbiere's occasional series 'The White Suits' takes a very positive turn with this instalment, which is drawn by the fantastic Toby Cypress.  This time, we get a story about an FBI agent who has dedicated her life to finding her missing father, who she now believes is somehow involved with the White Suits - Russian mobsters of great mystery.  I like how Barbiere has been building the mythology of this group without really telling us anything about them, and I like how he's been working with a variety of artists.

Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman's 'Station to Station' feels like it could easily fit into the BPRD world, and it continues to work well.

Resident Alien is one of my favourite serials in this series, and while it annoys me that the last three chapters haven't even told a story, but just follow our good alien doctor through his recovery from his first mini-series, I do enjoy Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse's work on this story, and will definitely be there for the next mini-series.

Of course, the best part of this comic is Carla Speed McNeil's 'Finder', which finds Jaeger in a bad place, as he discovers that he's in a city where everyone is terminally ill, and that they are able to pass their ailments on to another person, namely him.  This is a new type of sin-eating for Jaeger to perform, and I can't wait to see what McNeil does with it.

I think I would continue to buy this book if Finder is the only story in it I want to read.  Luckily, next month we get Neil Gaiman and Paul Chadwick working together, which should be exciting.

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