Category Archives: Dark Horse Comics

Advance Review: ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT #1 by James Stokoe

JAMES STOKOE’S ALIENS

The much anticipated Aliens comic book by James Stokoe, published by Dark Horse Comics, will release on April 26th. ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT is going to be one of the comics highlights for 2017. Let’s take a look.

Page from ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT

James Stokoe has a way of drawing with his light and curved lines gathering up an intoxicating level of details. You could very well tell a whole story just from one panel: the way the wrinkles hug a young woman’s flight suit; the curious waft of steam rising from her cup of coffee; and, no doubt, the cryptic slogan emblazoned across the mug she holds. Now, that means something. Is it here just for irony or perhaps more? We’ll just have to see. Welcome to the first issue of ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT, story, art, and lettering by James Stokoe, published by Dark Horse Comics.

GEOF DARROW VARIANT

Dark Horse provides us here with a shining example of their inventive and daring approach to creating work for a franchise. With Aliens, it’s a dance we readers want to engage in before we get to the monsters. The whole look and feel has to settle into place. We want to gradually get to know the characters. With James Stokoe (Wonton Soup, Orc Stain, Godzilla: The Half-Century War) we have an artist/writer with the passion to engage with each trope and build up something totally enthralling and new.

As we begin this issue, we have the classic set-up of a lone survivor on a rust bucket of a space station. Who is he? What happened? What happens next? Where’s the monster? All valid questions and we get to a lot of them. Wassy, short for Wascylewski, is a chain-smoking hardened soldier. He is willing to keep his head down and do his job. That’s a good plan until things get complicated. Suffice it to say, there’s an incident. Oh, it starts out small but then it builds.

Page from ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT

Character development is really fun and solid here. This is a young crew. Our Captain Hassan comes across as impulsive, sort of a scruffy version of Captain Kirk. Well, sort of. Hassan seems to be on unsteady ground. There’s definitely a lot of unpredictable energy here. This is a crew that seems to already be on a short fuse to begin with. Any of the crew members we meet, perhaps with the exception of one, could prove to be Hassan’s equal, and rival. At least, that’s the sense I get from this dynamic.

I think Stokoe is a total natural at what he does. This is a guy who just loves to draw and to tell stories. The colors are gorgeous. The palette of light blues and oranges is a refreshing alternative to brooding dark greens that we usually associate Alien stories with. I also really appreciate the lettering. Word balloons have a nice organic feel. The lettering itself could actually be hand-drawn. It sure has that nice crisp look that a pro at hand-lettering can achieve. This whole first issue is quite a beauty and no reason to believe the rest won’t be just as stunning. Can’t wait for more!

ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT #1 is available as of April 26, 2017. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Aliens, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Ridley Scott, Sci-Fi, science fiction

Review: AMERICAN GODS: SHADOWS #1

AMERICAN GODS: SHADOWS #1

When it comes to a comic book that is a big deal, it does not get much sweeter than AMERICAN GODS: SHADOWS, based upon the critically-acclaimed novel and upcoming Starz television series by Neil Gaiman. Published by Dark Horse Comics, this comic is: story and words by Neil Gaiman; script and layouts by P. Craig Russel; and art by Scott Hampton. The premise: “Shadow Moon just got out of jail, only to discover his wife is dead. Defeated, broke, and uncertain as to where to go from here, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who employs him to serve as his bodyguard—thrusting Shadow into a deadly world of the supernatural, where ghosts of the past come back from the dead, and a brewing war between old and new gods hits a boiling point.”

Page from AMERICAN GODS: SHADOWS #1

Okay, you had me at the name, “Shadow Moon.” And a “Mister Wednesday” employs him to be his Shadow? And, meanwhile, there’s a war of the gods on the horizon?! Yikes, that covers all the bases! And it sounds like a story by Neil Gaiman that I want to be in on. So, I read and, yes, this comic book is a big deal. I never read the original novel and now I want to. It all starts with the little details back in prison as Shadow copes with his three years under bars for assault and robbery. It doesn’t matter what you did to get into prison, he concludes, all that matters is that you’re in.

Page from AMERICAN GODS: SHADOWS #1

Gaiman follows a smooth realistic narrative that only begins to hint at the supernatural at just the right moments. There are little hints like an agitated fellow prisoner and a disturbing lucid nightmare. Scott Hampton’s artwork follows suit with a gritty matter-of-fact style. Everything moves at a steady pace, only hints to anything otherworldly, only hints to anything out of the norm. And then things abruptly, dramatically, change. Shadow Moon, the lucky guy with a second chance at life, is in over his head all over again.

Page from AMERICAN GODS: SHADOWS #1

It’s hard not to have read some Neil Gaiman, especially if you closely follow comics. But, whether you are new or familiar with Gaiman, this is a series that should prove to be a treat for you. This first issue has been very careful to take its time with developing our main character, Shadow Moon, the ex-con about to face a colossal challenge. I’ll be back to see what unfolds. This can easily become your next favorite title.

AMERICAN GODS: SHADOWS #1 is available as of March 15th. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Neil Gaiman, Supernatural

ECCC 2017 Panel Recap: Artists Who Write: The Craft and Creation of Comics

Dark Horse Comics panel on Artist/Writers

There is a special hybrid in the comics industry: the artist/writer. This is a combination of skills common enough in some circles (webcomics and indie graphic novels) but not so much in others (ongoing comic book series). That said, an artist/writer is also in a unique position for those projects where the roles of artist and writer are shared. Dark Horse Comics hosted an engaging and informative panel on this subject during Emerald City Comicon this last weekend that featured cartoonists Matt Kindt (Dept. H, Ether), Kristen Gudsnuk (Henchgirl, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls), and Adam Warren (Empowered). It was moderated by Patric Reynolds (Joe Golem).

ETHER by Matt Kindt and David Rubin

ETHER #5 by Matt Kindt and David Rubin. On Sale March 15.

Matt Kindt focused on ETHER, which he writes and David Rubin draws. Kindt is completely in love with all aspects of comics and continually finds ways to push the medium. But he is also quite appreciative when he teams up with an artist that is on a similar wavelength. “I can give David Rubin, say, a page with six panels and he can find a way to turn that into a 12-panel page.”

EMPOWERED by Adam Warren and Karla Diaz

EMPOWERED: Soldier of Love #2 by Adam Warren and Karla Diaz. On Sale March 22.

Adam Warren encouraged any aspiring cartoonists to not worry too much about a formal cartooning education. Warren said that, after he discovered manga, he was ultimately compelled to relearn comics after attending the Joe Kubert School that provided him with a traditional comics education.

HENCHGIRL by Kristen Gudsnuk.

HENCHGIRL TPB by Kristen Gudsnuk. On Sale March 29.

Kristen Gudsnuk stressed that she is self-taught. When she first developed her Henchgirl webcomic, she did not have to consider how to create the same comic for print. But, she did learn that she would not be able to continue drawing her comics on the subway. She redrew the first four issues of her print comic and went from there. A tip from Cliff Chiang really helped. He scans his pencils and prints them in nonphoto blue and uses that to ink on.

Whether the issues are technical or more general, a panel on the creation of comics has something for everyone. It definitely has the potential to inspire. And plenty to relate to. For instance, Matt Kindt admitted that he feels he is no longer qualified for any other job than being a cartoonist. He says he was never really good at being your typical office worker in a cubicle. But there was one bright spot. He worked out his schedule where he did his drawing from home and, while he was at “work” in the office, he would do his writing. For any aspiring cartoonist, finding a job that is so amenable to your dreams is nice work if you can get it.

For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Adam Warren, Comics, Dark Horse Comics, ECCC, Emerald City Comicon, Kristen Gudsnuk, Matt Kindt, Seattle

ECCC 2017: NEW HATSUNE MIKU VOLUME FROM DARK HORSE MANGA

Hatsune Miku: Future Delivery Volume 1

Hatsune Miku: Future Delivery Volume 1

As it makes its way to Emerald City Comicon in Seattle (March 2-5, 2017), Dark Horse Comics announces new plans for their latest Hatsune Miku manga license. The first of two Hatsune Miku: Future Delivery volumes is scheduled for a October 4, 2017 release with writer Satoshi Oshio and artist Hugin Miyama, the team behind the Overlord manga adaptation, telling the story first featured in their 2014 hit.

Press release follows:

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Filed under Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Emerald City Comicon, Manga, Seattle

Review: ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2

ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2

ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2

Dark Horse Comics consistently impresses me with its vision: quirky, offbeat, and distinctive. I’m thinking of ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT by James Stokoe, which starts in April. I’m also fondly recalling Chuck Palahniuk’s FIGHT CLUB 2. And I’m definitely thinking about Margaret Atwood’s latest work with Dark Horse, ANGEL CATBIRD VOLUME 2: TO CASTLE CATULA.

ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2 is a follow-up to best-selling novelist Margaret Atwood’s debut graphic novel. For fans of the legendary writer, this latest adventure is welcome news. And for anyone who enjoys a riveting adventure, suitable for all ages, this book is for you. The story follows genetic engineer Strig Feleedus, also known as Angel Catbird, and his band of half-cats heading to Castle Catula to seek allies as the war between cats and rats escalates.

Page from ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2

Page from ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2

As pure comics goodness, here you have the storytelling power of Margaret Atwood (the Man Booker Award-winning author of The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Hag-Seed), complimented by artist Johnnie Christmas (Sheltered), and colorist Tamra Bonvillain (Doom Patrol). This is a fun and wild ride with plenty of food of thought. We need more of these kind of compelling and gentle comics. Thankfully, we can rely upon Dark Horse to deliver. And, in times like these, we can certainly use an inspiring story with a lively environmental theme.

Angel Catbird is being published by Dark Horse Books in tandem with Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives, an initiative led by Nature Canada, the oldest conservation charity in Canada. Angel Catbird is the latest environmentally charged book by Atwood, who was recently given a lifetime award by the National Book Critic Circle and also named the recipient of the 2016 PEN Pinter Prize for her political and environmental activism. All three volumes of Angel Catbird are 6 x 9 full color hardcovers, priced at $14.99 each. Volume 2 features an introduction by acclaimed writer G. Willow Wilson and goes on sale on February 14, followed by Volume 3 on July 4, 2017. Angel Catbird Volume 1 has spent more than a dozen weeks on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list.

ANGEL CATBIRD Volume 2, with a forward by G. Willow Wilson, is available as of February 14th. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Review: DEAD INSIDE #1

DEAD INSIDE #1

DEAD INSIDE #1

DEAD INSIDE is a new crime noir comic book series, written by John Arcudi; art by Toni Fejzula; colors by Andre May; published by Dark Horse Comics. The main character is Linda, a deputy who has recently been promoted to detective. Linda is a hard case all to her own: does not play well with others, whether professionally or personally. Between the talents of Arcudi and Feizula, they have created a tough character, all sad and lonely, you know, dead inside. Funny thing about death, it comes in many colors. The first thing to really bring Linda to life in years is all about death: a really twisted murder-suicide committed by a most unlikely character.

dead-inside-dark-horse-comics-2016

Detective Linda Caruso can’t let go of the fact that the murderer, so small and slight in stature, would have been able to bring down a bear of a man. This was supposedly an easy enough crime to solve as it took place inside a prison, a minimum security prison at that. This is the first case for Linda at the Jail Crimes Division of the Sheriff’s Office in Mariposa County. Nothing unusual is supposed to happen there. Except Linda now finds herself confronting a crime that becomes more bizarre the more she investigates.

Page from DEAD INSIDE #1

Page from DEAD INSIDE #1

This is a series that will have special appeal for fans of crime and prison television, such as Law & Order, NCIS, Orange Is the New Black, American Crime Story, or Making a Murderer. This is a new series from Rumble writer John Arcudi and Veil artist Toni Fejzula. DEAD INSIDE all adds up to a great study in character and a compelling murder mystery full of gritty style. This resonates with the reader. An intriguing case. And an intriguing detective. Who could ask for more?

Page from DEAD INSIDE #1

Page from DEAD INSIDE #1

DEAD INSIDE #1 is available as of December 21st. For more details, and how to purchase, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Crime, Crime Fiction, Dark Horse Comics, John Arcudi, Noir

Interview: Eric Heisserer, LIGHTS OUT, ARRIVAL, and the Art of Storytelling

Eric Heisserer

Eric Heisserer

"Lights Out"

“Lights Out”

Eric Heisserer is a screenwriter you want to follow. He is known for “The Thing” (2011), “Final Destination 5” (2011), “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010), and “Hours,” (2013) his directorial debut, starring Paul Walker.

You will see his work this year in “Lights Out,” a supernatural horror film directed by David F. Sandberg; and “Arrival,” a sci-fi thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve. “Lights Out” is in theaters starting July 22, 2016 (USA). “Arrival” will open wide on November 11, 2016.

In this interview, we chat about storytelling and we begin with “The Dionaea House,” an online project that launched Eric’s professional screenwriting career with its sale to Warner Bros. in 2005.

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Filed under Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Eric Heisserer, Horror, Interviews, movies, Ray Bradbury, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Screenwriting, Valiant Entertainment, writers, writing

Review: BLACK HAMMER

Black Hammer Jeff Lemire

BLACK HAMMER is the latest entry in the fish-out-of-water superhero story. For this first issue, Jeff Lemire tries out a bunch of scenes with his cast of misbegotten superheroes. And the twist at the end of this first issue, should leave you wanting more. Dean Ormston’s artwork compliments Lemire’s script with a light and ethereal quality similar to Lemire’s own artwork. And Dave Stewart rounds out the core creative trio with plenty of those spot on atmospheric colors: autumnal oranges and sunset pinks. Where all this is headed is still unclear but the overall offbeat quality is winning me over.

These are superheroes with a Golden Age vibe to them. The real deal type. And it fell upon them to make some big sacrifices they’d all rather not talk about. But talking things out is good, right? That’s what Abe would say. Of course, Gail would never listen. And Barbalien would just laugh. There’s this one scene where Gail, who happens to be stuck inhabiting a 9-year-old, goes off to sit and brood on a rooftop. Along floats by Barbalien looking like this really big demon. He plops next to Gail and the two of them chat. It’s a good scene but it reminded me way too much of the sitcom, “3rd Rock from the Sun.” You know the show? It has a similar premise: aliens from another world stuck on planet Earth. You can imagine Joseph Gordon-Levitt up there on the roof with a hoodie feeling bad about himself and then John Lithgow comes out to join him.

I don’t think it’s such a good idea for this script to resemble a sitcom too much unless we’re heading down a particularly ironic path. There’s also a scene with ole Abe going into town to see his sweetheart, a waitress at the diner. That too has a squarely sitcom quality to it. I am willing to see where this goes. Then there’s Talky-Walky. He’s a robot determiend to invent a way to get off the island…uh, I mean planet. I sense that Lemire really wants to be very playful. So, if you’re in the mood for something whimsical, and ironic, this may end up adding up the further along you go past this first issue.

BLACK HAMMER is available as of July 20, 2016. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Jeff Lemire, Satire, Superheroes

Review: LADY KILLER 2 #1 by Joëlle Jones

Joëlle Jones Lady Killer

LADY KILLER, written and drawn by Joëlle Jones, is a landmark in comics. To have a second season kick off is pretty awesome indeed. This is as tightly written as it is exquisitely drawn. And, hell yeah, you get quite a freaky entertaining story to enjoy. This is why people get hooked on comics and great storytelling. Here’s the deal, it does get bloody but it’s never creepy. Well, creepy can work really well sometimes. But, you know, then there’s super-creepy torture porn stuff and this is not that at all. Think more in terms of Alfred Hitchcock just to give you a solid point of reference.

Our story finds Josie picking up where she left off. The horrible things that happened in Seattle are now in the past. The Schuller family has moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida–where a whole new set of horrible things can happen! It is circa 1962, with the American dream flying high with a house full of kids and Tupperware parties. Josie, if she towed the line as a typical housewife, would take orders from her husband and simply recede into the background. But Josie is different. For one thing, she’s a serial killer.

Lady Killer Joëlle Jones

Jones deftly plays with the housewife/serial killer dynamic as stylishly as if it were coming from Hitchcock. It is a sheer delight to see her balance the gore with understatement and just the right touch of humor. She does a great thing by replacing all the blood with ink. Well, the blood is the color of black ink. Black has a way of delightfully messing with your mind in ways that red would not. It adds a different kind of impact: the abrupt and stark black commands your attention. It’s negative space, negating life, summoning sharp thoughts of death, finality, the great void.

For a comic so invested in death, it is definitely one of the most alive and vital comics you can pick up.

LADY KILLER 2 #1 is available as of August 3, 2016. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Alfred Hitchcock, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Horror, Joëlle Jones

Advance Review: WEIRD DETECTIVE #1

Weird-Detective-Dark-Horse-Comics

Fred Van Lente and Guiu Vilanova unleash some good ole Cthulhu creepiness with their new original comic series, “Weird Detective,” published by Dark Horse Comics. If you caught HBO’s first glorious season of “True Detective,” starring Matthew McConaughey as the other-worldly detective Rust Cohle, then this comic is sure to please. Much in the same spirit as that show, Van Lente’s script taps into a whole mess of weirdness going back to H.P. Lovecraft, but also including Arthur Machen, Edgar Allan Poe, and all the way up to contemporary dark fantasy writers such as Thomas Ligotti. So, I’m sure, the “weird” nod in this title goes far and wide.

I will make a few comparisons between detective Rust Cohle from the HBO show and the main character in this comic, detective Sebastian Greene. Just, keep in mind, I’m not at all implying that Van Lente is lifting from the HBO show. No, it’s more a sharing of a certain vibe. And that is done quite well here. Okay, both of these characters are outsiders big time and seem to barely function in social circles while thriving on getting their jobs done. Leave them alone to work on a case, and they’re golden. It begs the question, Why do we invest so much time socializing and not quite as much time getting stuff done? Also, if you saw the show, you’ll enjoy how Sebastian deals with being set up with a partner! No more lone wolf work at the NYPD, per new union contract. His new partner, Sana Fayez, quickly picks up that Sebastian is like from some other world. The recurring excuse is that he’s Canadian.

Van Lente Weird Detective

Where the script splits free from my comparisons is the fact that Sebastian really is from another world. If he stares at his partner to the point of making her uneasy, it’s because he’s just carefully taking notes on the humans. As far as Sana knows, the dude is creepy. Sebastian haltingly attempts to reassure her. No, it’s just that he’s Canadian, he keeps pleading. The real reason that he’s so freaky will just have to wait since the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

Complimenting Van Lente’s script to the hilt is the artwork of Guiu Vilanova. The opening scenes, for example, draw you in right away as we follow a voice-over narrative of Sebastian trying to explain to anyone who is willing to listen that he just happens to know a lot more than any human can fully comprehend. Sorry, no offense intended, Sebastian says, but humans only have three senses, not five; while his kind have a multitude of finely tuned senses. No contest, any way you look at it. That said, when New York City falls prey to the strangest acts of violence and murder, it’s only Sebastian Greene who is capable of solving these crimes. Or the entity in possession of the former Sebastian Greene. Fact is, the former Sebastian Greene was less than remarkable. How come he’s so good at his job lately? It’s a mystery that his partner has been secretly tasked with solving. But she may end up getting too close for her own good.

Truly a great new comic by two of the best talents in the business!

“Weird Detective #1” goes on sale on June 15th. Final order cutoff for retailers is May 23rd. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, H.P. Lovecraft, Weird Fiction