Dark Horse Presents #1 (2011)
Only two books this week, but they're both oversized anthologies, so get comfortable...
2000 AD Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) 2011 (Rebellion, 2011, "Free")
- Tharg and the Intruder! The company hid the credits on this one, but it appears to be a late '70s Kevin O'Neill strip lampooning the old Marvel Bullpen behind the scenes stories. That, or it's an early '80s number mocking Marvel Age. Either way, it's a cute three pages sales pitch about why fans of thinly disguised Marvel analogues are arrested development cases, and why 2000 AD is so kick ass your puny human brain can't even conceive of it.
- Judge Dredd: S.A.M. I've wondered whatever happened to Val Semeiks while be quietly pleased he wasn't sullying any super-hero titles with his art. Turns out he went back to his origins in satirical U.K. strips, where his style is far better suited to the material. John Wagner's six age script takes good shots at government bureaucracy, then wraps things up before they get stale.
- Slaine: Moloch Again, the company is really shitty and inconsistent about handling credits, but I'm going to assume this was by Pat Mills and Clint Langley. If this wasn't simply a four page excerpt from a larger piece, the writing is just plain bad. There's no plot beyond demons picking a fight with an Irish barbarian, and he's even got a sidekick to tell us how badass he is. The painted art should go down with the Heavy Metal set, but I like backgrounds and good lightning, myself.
- Kingdom The high concept is anthropomorphic dog warriors protecting their unseen masters on the last continent to fend off an alien bug invasion. Dan Abnett's scripts is alright for what it is, but Richard Elson's art is the highlight. It reminds me of Scot Eaton as run through a Dave Gibbons filter.
- Shakara I'll work under the assumption that Robbie Morrison and Henry Flint are behind this mean-spirited little ditty about the last surviving human in a gladiatorial arena. The limited use of color really gives the reds impact, and it's a fun excerpt.
- Obmoz Battles The Twinklie Winkler An ultra-violent parody of the old Hostess cakes strips. These have been done to death elsewhere, but the sheer over-the-top brutality rates a chuckle.
Dark Horse Presents #1 (Dark Horse, 2011, $7.95)
Years out of print and emboldened by a MySpace edition, DHP returns strong as a bi-monthly mini-trade.
- Concrete: Intersection I can't handle Paul Chadwick long form, because his slice of life existential musings wear on me after a while, but they're a treat at eight pages.
- Marked Man It's Howard Chaykin, so elaboration seems redundant, but of course there are mildly thick women in lingerie and snark by the bushel. What I do like is that the protagonist is an overweight family man who secretly gets by through crime, so the hook of this series is a bit more down to Earth in its escapism.
- Blood I read Continuity Comics growing up, and got off on the excessive violence and the uniform Neal Adams-ness of the art. When I sampled their wares again in the '90s, I saw how terrible they were, but I chalked that up to the '90s. Reviews for Batman: The Odyssey have made me apprehensive about ever pulling out any of my old Samuree issues, and Blood bears that concern out. It's a beautifully rendered ugly story with retarded dialogue and utterly gratuitous gore. For eight pages, a guy gets his face pounded to ground chuck while informing everyone that his buddy Blood is the most lethal cat around. There's a taste of origin story, which amounts to space vampire, which should only peak your interest if it reminds you of Mathilda May starkers. It's right there at the outer edge of awful without every bouncing back into the realm of "so bad it's good."
- Finder: Third World I've never read any Carla Speed McNeil, probably because I get her confused with Linda Medley and the same people with questionable taste recommend both to me. Anyway, I quite liked this first chapter, and I'd like some more.
- Mr. Monster Vs. Oooak! What a throwback. This was a nostalgic property in the 1980s, riffing on the premise of a Golden Age style super-hero battling '50s EC and Timely/Atlas monsters. The jokes were stale Mad leftovers with 1967 expiration dates. I never found it funny, and it's much too lightweight to be anything but comedy, so it feels especially pointless in 2011.
- Interview With Frank Miller/Xerxes Sneak Peek I'll save you some time: Miller was a poor student but developed a hard-on for this area of history, which he intentionally distorts and sensationalizes for his fictions. The art and story looks like 300, a movie I never saw and a graphic novel I didn't like.
- How Interesting: A Tiny Man by Harlan Ellison Like most comic book fans, I wince when presented with a text story. I'll go to the library if I want prose, and I'd rather pick my own poison that be subjected to what an editor thinks I should read. Well, in this case, the story is a breeze and has a point, so just get to it.
- Murky World I've never been a huge Richard Corben fan, and here he's starting a serial without the benefit of a scripter, so I'd druther graze the art than read this silliness.
- Star Wars: Crimson Empire-- "Third Time Pays For All" I love looking at Paul Gulacy art, even when it's obviously photo referenced. This is Star Wars shit, but not the impenetrable kind, even though it'll leave you with narrative blue balls as a prelude to a mini-series.
- Snow Angel This would have been a mediocre short story, but as an opening chapter, I find it especially dubious. Cute for cute's sake?
- Strips by Patrick Alexander Crude internet age funnies. I'm not sure they would hold up long term, but a couple of pages worked out fine.