Tag Archives: Dark Horse Comics

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

Review: BALTIMORE: EMPTY GRAVES #1 (of 5)

Baltimore-Mike-Mignola

This new Baltimore story arc proves to be quite satisfying. This one finds Baltimore and his band of brothers telling tales while they dig graves. The graves aren’t all quite ready for use but these guys seem to know what they’re doing. I love the artwork by Peter Bergting who provides a sure-handed take on Mike Mignola’s style. The story, by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, kicks off with a reliable dose of droll and quirky narrative. Quite a number of things are set into motion not the least of which is Baltimore learning more about the whereabouts of the Blood Red Witch and seeing her handiwork firsthand.

I fall in with readers who decide now is a good time to step in. I think it is part of the fun to find your way into the big picture of plot and characters. For instance, I appreciate that I need to go back and read The Cult of the Red King, but that’s okay. This issue is engaging without prior knowledge. For one thing, it gives you some interesting hooks into Baltimore’s backstory such as his Indian guide, Harish. He saw some pretty dark stuff during his command of the Indian Expeditionary Force while on a mission in Tanganyika. Could have been destruction by zombies, you just never know.

The love for atmosphere and setting is definitely alive here as both artist Peter Bergting and colorist Dave Stewart add to and enhance the Mignolaverse. If you love steampunk, or just general exotica, you can’t go wrong with scenes set in such times and places as St. Petersburg, Russia, circa 1920. That’s pretty strange and weird, right? Well, not to a regular fan of the Mignolaverse. No, to a diehard fan, that’s as common as the 7-Eleven down on the corner. But have that very same fan try and get a chili dog in 1920s St. Petersburg, and he’s going to come back down to earth. You know, come to think of it, 7-Eleven should sell comic books. Bring back the spinner rack!

So, here is a solid issue to what looks to be a action-packed adventure. It fits right in with a busy next few months as Dark Horse Comics rolls out the conclusions to Hellboy in Hell, Abe Sapien, and Hell on Earth over the course of this summer. Also from Dark Horse this summer is the 384-page prose anthology, “Children of Lovecraft.” For such a recluse, Howard Phillips Lovecraft sure did leave behind a thriving literary progeny. Dark Horse Comics is part of that and this book is a shining example with work by Richard Kadrey, Brian Hodge, A. C. Wise, Siobhan Carroll, Orrin Grey, and many more. This item goes on sale August 31 with cover art by Mike Mignola.

Continuing with the subject of Mike Mignola, there is a new study of the Mignolaverse, “Hellboy’s World: Comics and Monsters on the Margins” by Scott Bukatman. This book is an insightful look at the influences on Hellboy, including H.P. Lovecraft. You’ll find a review for it here shortly. Well, with all that said, you will undoubtedly find something to enjoy from Dark Horse if you are a Hellboy fan or just someone who enjoys good horror and a good story.

BALTIMORE: EMPTY GRAVES #1 is available as of April 6, 2016. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under comic books, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Hellboy, Mike Mignola

How Modern Fans Have Come to Know Graphic Novels

300Comic_1

Guest column by Joseph Byrd

There was a time when comic books and graphic novels seemed like old-fashioned forms of fiction and entertainment. However, thanks in large part to a modern film industry that’s become obsessed with adapting these comics and novels, a whole new generation has become attached to them. Really, it’s been a gradual but fascinating development in popular fiction.

It begins with the films themselves. Since Iron Man debuted in 2008, the movie industry has been utterly dominated by superhero cinema. The Marvel Cinematic Universe now consists of over 10 films and will only grow larger in the years to come. This article reveals that the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War (due out in 2018) will include a whopping 67 characters from Marvel Comics. And it’s not just Marvel bringing comics to life on the big screen. DC Comics adaptations provide regular competition, and there have even been other prominent examples not related to the two publishing giants. For instance, popular 2010 superhero comedy Kick-Ass was based on a comic published by Icon (which to be fair is a Marvel affiliate), and movies like Sin City and 300 were based on Frank Miller works published by Dark Horse Comics. All of these films have helped to spark a renewed interest in source material among modern fans.

CivilWarComic_1It’s also become particularly helpful that a number of the most prominent superhero movies have been based on very specific comics or graphic novels. For example, while a given Spider-Man movie might pull elements from several different comics and origin stories, some projects have essentially adapted screenplays from individual editions. This list ranked Frank Miller’s 1986 novel The Dark Knight Rises as the single best graphic novel out there, and millions of fans have now come to know it nearly 30 years later through the film of the same name. Likewise, Marvel has seemingly made a clearer effort to connect its own movies to specific projects. The aforementioned Infinity War movie will be based on a six-issue series of comics published in the ’90s, and this spring’s Captain America: Civil War actually pulls its story from one of the more modern chapters of Marvel lore, published in 2006-07. As long as movies remain so deeply rooted in comics, they’ll continue to spark new interest for younger generations.

ArkhamAsylumComic_1But it’s not solely the movies that are helping to spread the word about some of the great comics and graphic novels out there. The gaming industry has also played a major role, largely through famous console-based titles like those in the Arkham Asylum series (which took its inspiration from a Grant Morrison graphic novel). But other areas in gaming have embraced the popularity of comic book characters, and in doing so helped to reach out to alternative audiences. This site is best known for catering to fans of casual casino games through offering a range of bingo, roulette and poker options to suit the genre. However, it’s also expanded to include slot and arcade games that invoke images and character names from popular comics and graphic novels. Iron Man and Batman are directly used, an “Amazon Queen” game implies a Wonder Woman connection, and even the Spartan 300 are used as thematic material for a game.

And then of course there’s the outreach to young kids, which is done differently now than in decades past. When comics and graphic novels originally rose to relevance, it was at least in part because there just wasn’t as much visual entertainment available. There was no regular television or film content, let alone any fit for children. Now kids have all kinds of other ways to entertain themselves, which means comics and graphic novels have lost what once may have been their greatest advantage. Still, there are a number of ways in which these characters and stories have been made available and appealing to kids.

MarvelComicApp_1Perhaps the most noteworthy development is LEGO’s partnerships with Marvel and DC to create gaming content that brings characters and storylines to life in a cartoonish manner. But on a more straightforward note, we’ve also seen comics and graphic novels made available electronically through app developers who recognize their new audience. Kids as young as two or three these days are learning to use smartphones and tablets, and parents now have the ability to load those devices with age-appropriate comic book material over time. It’s essentially modernizing the concept of a comic book.

Through all these developments, we’ve seen comics and graphic novels make a pretty remarkable transition into modern entertainment. And their popularity is only growing greater.

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Filed under comic books, Comics, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, graphic novels, Iron Man, Marvel Comics, movies

Review: DEAD VENGEANCE #1 (of 4)

Dead-Vengeance-Dark-Horse-Comics

If you’re a fan of gritty and fantastical crime noir, like The Goon, then here is a comic for you. I like nice touches of authenticity in a period comic: the hats, the cars, the buildings. It’s Detroit, 1940, and it feels like it. “Dead Vengeance” is a four-issue story with a grisly, yet whimsical, premise: our hero was killed a decade ago by the villain’s henchmen but he’s somehow managed to come back to life.

Bill Morrison (script and pencils) is having a good time with this material and it shows. Keith Champagne (inks) provides bold and energetic linework. I think this comic will prove to be a fun ride. Our story begins at a ramshackle carnival and we find John Doe, our hero, among the freaks on display. He’s supposed to be the corpse kept preserved in a tank. That is, until some boys walk up to him and recite what they believe is a spell to bring him back to life. And then he does come back to life! The whole look and feel to this comic just screams 1940s pulp magazine.

This one is a breezy little tale that is fun to look at and enjoy on its own terms. As you’ll see, there’s a whole sordid, and entertaining, story behind what led to John Doe becoming a corpse on display in a carnival.

DEAD VENGEANCE #1 is a 32-page comic book, priced at $3.99, available as of October 07, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Review: THE NEW DEAL by Jonathan Case

New-Deal-Jonathan-Case-2015

We begin Jonathan Case’s new graphic novel, “The New Deal,” in New York City, 1936. It’s the depths of the Great Depression. NYC is pretty darn cold in the winter, especially when money is so scarce. There’s a young guy, Frank O’Malley, and he’s pleading with passersby to consider buying a ticket to an avant-garde production of Macbeth. Tough sale especially when, just next to Frank is his Uncle Pack hawking apples for six cents each. A potential customer tries to haggle the price down by a penny but Uncle Pack won’t budge. Quickly, we move on as Frank races to his regular job as a bellman at the Waldorf Astoria. And with that Case has hooked you in as the plot thickens and we find Frank to be way over his head.

Pages from THE NEW DEAL

Pages from THE NEW DEAL

Case delivers a solid story built upon his character-driven script and his engaging drawing style. His sly sense of humor and intrigue works its way through every page. He has managed to create characters that feel real while inhabiting the hyperreal world of screwball comedies of the 1930s. We cannot help but be curious about the relationship between a Caucasian bellman, Frank O’Malley, and an African-American maid, Theresa Harris. In public, they keep at a distance and address each other by their surnames. In private, they are playful with each other but still hold back. What we do know is that they care about each other very much and the plot that unfolds will test them.

Dark-Horse-The-New-Deal-Case

This is an exceptionally well-paced and substantial story. It has one foot in the ’30s and the other in today’s sensibilities. This allows us to explore the relationship between Frank and Theresa and the inner world of Theresa with great subtlety. You learn to accept Frank who has to struggle with proving his trustworthiness. And you follow Theresa as she must navigate through the obstacles before her. The more complicated our story gets, the more Frank and Theresa are forced to face what it is that keeps attracting them to each other.

Make no mistake, this is a perfect blend of mystery, humor, and offbeat love story. If there’s any mention of FDR’s “New Deal,” it is only in passing. This is not a history lesson, at least not directly. That said, while you’ll learn a thing or two about swells and dolls and fancy hotels, you will also get a good sense of the cold realities of that era.

This is Jonathan Case’s best work yet. You may know him from his artwork for the critically-acclaimed graphic novel, “Green River Killer: A True Detective Story,” which I reviewed here. Or you may have caught his work for the DC Comics title, “Batman ’66.” You will definitely want to read “The New Deal,” a thoroughly entertaining and remarkable work.

THE NEW DEAL is a hardcover, published by Dark Horse Comics, available as of September 23. You can find it at all your favorite booksellers including through Jonathan’s website right here. As always, be sure to visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Hotels, Humor, Jonathan Case, mystery