The award-winning anthology Dark Horse Presents returns with its third issue, featuring some new stories, some continuing stories, and a sweet “Dream Gang” cover by Brendan McCarthy. Is it good?
Dark Horse Presents #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
DHP #3 starts with its cover story, Dream Gang Part 3. Listen, I really want to enjoy Dream Gang. I’m a sucker for stories that take place within the characters’ subconscious minds, and that Brendan McCarthy art with the bright, trippy coloring looks great in or out of context. But man, I cannot wrap my head around what is going on in this story. Maybe if I didn’t have to wait a month between installments I wouldn’t have this problem, but I quickly went back and reread those parts of DHP #1 and #2 and… yeah, I still don’t get it. Those colors though!
The second feature is an Amala’s Blade story called “Powers of Namaaron,” written by Steve Horton with art by Michael Dialynas. I went in knowing nothing about Amala nor her blade, and I still can’t say much about either of them. She’s some sort of sassy space pirate in the future, I guess? It doesn’t read as much like a story as it does a preview, and SPOILER ALERT: that’s exactly what it is. Especially in an age when comic book previews are so often made readily available for free online, it feels like a waste of space to feature it in an anthology that people actually pay money for. Granted, I gave a rave review to Action Philosophy last month, a feature that appeared this week as part of the Action Philosophers Tenth Anniversary Uber Edition, which I highly recommend. The difference, though, is that Action Philosophy works as a self-contained comic. The other difference is that Action Philosophy is smart, funny, and memorable whereas this Amala’s Blade scene is a forgettable, if well-drawn scenario that you’re likely to feel like you’ve already seen before.
Next up is Wrestling with Demons Chapter 3, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with art by Andy Kuhn and colors by John Rauch. Like the previous 2 chapters, it won’t knock your socks off, but there’s a cool fight scene and one moment that made me laugh out loud with it’s self-awareness.
There’s another Chapter 3 in Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery, written by Peter Hogan with art and lettering by Steve Parkhouse. It’s a smoothly written and drawn story with at least one memorable moment, but again, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing something significant having not read any previous Resident Alien stories.
The Chaining Chapter 1, written and drawn by Tyler Jenkins with colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick, is another story that suffers from the anthology format, as it doesn’t have enough space to establish its hook. The writing and art is effectively moody and atmospheric, but I doubt I’m going to remember what happened by the time Chapter 2 rolls in next month.
Finally, writer/artist Richard Delgado and colorist Jim Campbell present Age of Reptiles: Baby Turtles. I’m not sure what kind of point Delgado was trying to make with this wordless story, but it’s the highlight of the issue. It’s mostly just a bunch of splash pages detailing the journey of countless baby turtles as they make their way through a surreal prehistoric world of danger. Whatever it is, I like it.
Is It Good?
With only one truly standout story, Dark Horse Presents #3 is hard to recommend, even to readers that followed the first two issues. Still, the great thing about an anthology format like this is that there’s so much potential for things to improve in the next issue. So, if you’re an optimist, don’t give up on this series just yet.