Way back in November I reviewed Dark Horse Presents #30, and was a bit disappointed by my first foray into the award-winning anthology series.
Part of the problem, though, may have been that most of the stories featured had already been in progress for months before I jumped on, so I felt a little lost. Luckily, DHP has relaunched with a new #1, all-new stories, and a new price — just $4.99, as opposed to the $7.99 price tag of the previous series. Granted, that means a smaller page count, but it should still be enough to lure in plenty of new readers. Financial aspects aside, though, is it good?
Dark Horse Presents #1 (Dark Horse)
The headlining story this month is a new “The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot” story, “Terror Comes Forth on the Fourth!!!!!!” written and illustrated by co-creator Geof Darrow, and colored by Dave Stewart. Many readers may be disappointed that it isn’t written by series co-creator Frank Miller, but it’s probably for the best that post-“Holy Terror” Frank Miller sat this one out (I prefer to think of Young Frank Miller and “Old Frank Miller” as two different people.)
Still, the writing is a bit clumsy, but this is the kind of story that you read for the art. Geof Darrow’s art, as usual, is richly detailed and textured, with large panels and simple layouts. It’s visually interesting, but ultimately forgettable.
After a series of Big Guy and Rusty pinups (all of which are relatively run-of-the-mill, since they don’t feature those crazy-detailed backgrounds that one expects from Darrow) comes a new “Kabuki and the Psy-Chic” story written and illustrated by David Mack. I’ve never read any of the Kabuki series before, and while the art here is spectacularly rich and abstract, and the writing is effectively poetic, I’m not tempted to go back and find any old Kabuki trades. However, if you’ve read “Kabuki” before, this feature will probably make a lot more sense to you. I just couldn’t fully understand what was happening. Maybe it’ll make more sense if the story continues in the next issue, but it’s not clear whether or not more is coming.
Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery, Chapter 1.
Next up is “Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery Chapter 1,” written by Peter Hogan and illustrated and lettered by Steve Parkhouse. I’ve never read any Resident Alien comics before, either, but this one was a lot easier to jump onto. Nonetheless, I’m not exactly clamoring to read Chapter 2 though. This story hasn’t really established a hook yet. Something about an alien on the run from the authorities? At least the angular, yet relatively clean-lined art by Steve Parkhouse is effective.
Then there’s “Dream Gang Chapter 1” by Brendan McCarthy, which is probably the strongest start in the entire issue. Besides the fact that McCarthy’s art is excellent, with breathtaking details and rich colors, the premise is right up my alley. You know that song “Dream Police” by Cheap Trick? It’s kind of like that, except the Dream Gang is the good guys, protecting an ordinary man’s brain from nefarious mental forces.
Dream Gang by Brendan McCarthy
“Wresting with Demons Chapter 1” is another strong start, written by the “All-Star Western” team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, and illustrated Andy Kuhn. It’s about a father and his pre-teen daughter as they visit an old Western ghost town, but I won’t say anything else about that. Just know that it’s smoothly written and charmingly illustrated.
The issue ends on a high note with “Sabertooth Swordsman: Colossal Casuals Crusade” written and lettered by Damon Gentry and illustrated by Aaron Conley. True to the title, it’s about a sword-wielding saber tooth tiger battling hoards of giant bugs and other nuisances in a quest to retrieve his lost pants. It’s pretty great, with some really fun action.
Wrestling with Demons, Chapter 1.
Is It Good?
It’s not perfect, but this new Dark Horse Presents #1 hits more than it misses. Pick it up for the showcase of artistic talent.