Lee: We might have to switch picks from now on. I can no longer get excited by Marvel but I love DH! There is tons of stuff to talk about this month, both good and bad.
Jim: If switching who picks what works, that I'm all for it.
12" BARB WIRE FIGURE
The growth of sophistication of today's highly articulated, elaborately costumed figures is one reason why now is the golden age for action figure collectors. Upstart toy company Triad Toys is winning fans and turning heads with their fabulous attention to detail, and being the sophisticated and smart company they are, have turned to Dark Horse as a source for their latest new figures. Barb Wire was one of the stars of Dark Horse's company-created "universe", and she returns, courtesy of Triad, with a vengeance! Triad has paid attention to every detail: from her fishnets to her gloves and armbands, buckles, to her blonde hair, this is the ultimate collector's item. Accessories include an arsenal's worth of weaponry—even her handcuffs. You can take this high-quality heroine home just don't call her "babe." 12" articulated figure, $119.99
Lee: There is so much wrong with this I’m not sure I have enough time (or energy) to discuss them all. But, I’ll try anyway. Let’s start with $120 for a Barbie doll! HOLY CRAP! Then move onto… ummm who is this for because I’m not letting my girls play with this ‘leather and fishnets but not a stripper special edition.’ Ok. I might let them if it was only $60 but it’s not. The only positive thing I can think of is the fact that I can’t decide if it’s a good thing that it looks more like Carrie from SiTC than Pam Anderson.
Jim: Come on Lee we know if you pay $120 for a Barbie doll who it would be for. I have wasted money for many odd things but I can't imagine anyone ordering this "collector's item". I mean the movie was considered one of the worst movies ever made and the series has been dead and gone for over a decade.
ALIENS: FAST TRACK TO HEAVEN by Liam Sharp (W/A)
FC, 40 pages, HC, 7" x 10", $10.99
Deep beneath the ice of Jupiter's moon Europa, life teems in the depths of dark oceans fed by belching chemical-rich volcanic vents. But more spectacular discoveries of life elsewhere in the cosmos have left Europa little more than another commercial stopover with an orbital station and a decaying space elevator ferrying cargo and personnel to and from the moon. But when one of the massive elevators stops midway with no communication from the crew aboard, a rescue team soon discovers that the stranded elevator is transporting a deadly cargo from another world, a savage organism that threatens life on Europa and, ultimately, life on planet Earth. Original hardcover graphic novella!
Lee: Sadly, a 40 page hc for $11 isn’t all that bad. Not when you consider that square bound books are $6-7. Anyway, if you can get past the price point, then this should be gorgeous artwork by Liam Sharp. He’s perfectly suited for this! Check out some of his older work on ManThing if you don’t believe me.
Jim: It still feels a little pricey to me since we get 22 pages of story and art for $3 or $4, but it is not totally out of line. I did not realize Liam was writing now days.
THE ART OF BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL by Hiroaki Samura (W/A)
FC, 160 pages, HC, 9" x 12", $29.99
Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal epic is a unique, expertly paced manga series that mixes Edo-era samurai grudge matches with anachronistic punk attitudes and mannerisms. It's also one of the longest-running manga series in the U.S.! Samura's stirring tale of a warrior's search for redemption and a young girl's quest for revenge has taken the world by storm, winning numerous awards across the globe and spawning an anime series and a novel spinoff. In Dark Horse's The Art of Blade of the Immortal, Hiroaki Samura's lush color paintings, detailed line work, and selected story pages and chapter breaks are on display in an oversized, 9" x 12", hardcover collection. This Dark Horse edition also includes an exclusive section with thirty-two extra pages of artwork, an introduction by acclaimed artist Geof Darrow (The Matrix Comics, Hard Boiled), and a translated afterword by Samura.
• Hiroaki Samura's widely acclaimed Blade of the Immortal manga series has won numerous awards, including the Eisner Award in America, the prestigious Media Arts Award of Japan, and two consecutive British Eagle Awards. Samura is also the creator of the enchanting Ohikkoshi manga anthology—published by Dark Horse Manga!
Lee: Normally I would pass on this but I’ve been working my way through the Blade series and it’s awesome. SIDE NOTE: I really need to talk about that some day. Back on track, the series is beautiful to look at, and as an art guy, I’m not going to be able to resist this. This is well worth the money.
Jim: Art guy says yes, story guy says pass.
BEASTS OF BURDEN by Evan Dorkin (W) and Jill Thompson (A)
FC, 168 pages, HC, 8" x 11", $19.99
Beasts of Burden is a fun-filled adventure story that features a heroic group of dogs—and one cat—who are set with the task of keeping the residents of Burden Hill safe from supernatural occurrences.
Early experiences with the paranormal have set up Pugs, Red, Whitey, Ace, and the Orphan to become members of the Wise Dog Society, official animal agents to aid those with odd concerns. Following a slew of magical frogs, encountering hostile ghosts, setting off to rescue an old friend from a sewer filled with some very large rats, and discovering buried secrets in the local cemetery are all in a day's work for this new team of unlikely heroes.
• This hardcover includes the original stories from the Dark Horse Book of . . . anthologies, plus the all-new series from this award-winning team!
"It's a lot of fun, and ideal for kids who don't mind a little gore and ghosts with their adorable animal." —The (Onion) A.V. Club
Lee: This is an easy pick. Evan Dorkin is a great writer. Jill Thompson is an amazing artist. It’s a slightly oversized hc. Win. Win. Win.
Jim: Let me know what you think of it because I'm still not 100% sure I want to order this one.
THE END LEAGUE VOLUME 2: WEATHERED STATUES by Rick Remender (W), Eric Canete (P/Cover), Andy MacDonald (P), and Matthew Wilson (Cover)
FC, 152 pages, TPB, 7" x 10", $16.99
Writer Rick Remender continues his acclaimed new series, joined by fan favorites Eric Canete (Iron Man) and Andy MacDonald (Punisher War Journal), for an all-new storyline, "Weathered Statues." After the shocking events of the previous volume, in which half the cast was lost, Black and Arachnakid risk everything to take their revenge on the Smiling Man in his twisted city of Lore. Across the world in New Berlin, the fascist Wolfsangel puts a bounty on the remaining heroes in order to obtain the one item he requires to snatch lordship of Earth from Dead Lexington: An altruistic heart. Collects issues #5-#9.
Lee: It’s too bad this series never went anywhere. It had some very good art. It had a good storyline ala ‘Wanted’ with villains taking over the world. But, the bi-monthly publishing schedule killed any momentum this might have had. I’m passing on the trade because I don’t think there’s even a conclusion to the story.
Jim: This series really fizziled out as much of Remender's current Marvel work is doing and Gigantic had a blah ending. I loved Fear Agent and other Remender work but lately he has missed for me. Certain writers work better in certain arenas and maybe the straight super hero stuff is not Remender's forte.
ODDLY COMPELLING ART OF DENIS KITCHEN Denis Kitchen (W/A), Neil Gaiman (W), Charles Brownstein (W), with design by John Lind
FC, 200 pages, HC, 9" x 12", $34.99
A well-known personality in the comics world, Denis Kitchen has worn many hats: publisher, founder of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and literary and art agent. But his career as a pioneering underground comix artist has been overdue for rediscovery—until now! The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen, the long-awaited collection of Kitchen's comics, covers, and illustrations, brings Kitchen the artist to the forefront. A comprehensive career overview, this compendium includes approximately two hundred illustrations, most unseen since their original publication in the late '60s and early '70s, and many from regional publications not seen even by serious comix fans.
• Featuring an introduction by Neil Gaiman, and an expansive, career-spanning essay by CBLDF executive director Charles Brownstein, The Oddly Compelling Art is both a fond look back for underground comix aficionados and an excellent introduction for new fans of Kitchen's body of work!
Lee: DH has done a couple of these ‘founders of comix’ type books and they’ve all been great. I’m not going to get the original comix so this is perfect for me. I get to learn about the man, some background about comix in general, and even some sample strips. If you have an interest in the undergrounds then this is great. I’m sold.
Jim: I know you have always had a fondness for this material, I do not.
RED TIDE by Jim Steranko (W/A)
FC, 128 pages, HC, 7" x 10", $19.99
After emerging as Marvel Comics' most controversial superstar, Jim Steranko tackled his greatest artistic challenge: creating an entirely new medium, the visual novel—not an illustrated novel or novel-length comic book, but a seamless fusion of interdependent graphic and prose narratives forming a powerful and original new method of telling stories. An artistic tour-de-force, Red Tide is hard-boiled detective fiction in the bare-knuckle tradition of Hammett, Cain, and Chandler, as well as the dark, atmospheric milieu of film noir. Dark Horse is proud to reintroduce this landmark work, remastered with state-of-the-art digital colors by Eisner Award-winner Dave Stewart, in a collector's quality hardcover edition. A gritty, bare-knuckled detective fiction from award winner Jim Steranko!
Lee: This has actually been around for a very long time. I think it was originally published by Vanguard in the late 90’s, early 00’s. But, since I didn’t get that version, I’ll get this one. Anything Steranko touches I’m pretty much buying.
Jim: I just wish the man had done more comic work. I think for the amount of work he did in comics (which was very little) he had an amazing amount of influence.
STAR WARS OMNIBUS: A LONG TIME AGO . . . VOLUME 1
Roy Thomas (W), Don Glut (W), Archie Goodwin (W), Mary Jo Duffy (W), Howard Chaykin (A), Tom Palmer (A), Terry Austin (A), Bill Wray (A), Walt Simonson (A), and others
FC, 480 pages, TPB, 6" x 9", $24.99
Collecting the first twenty-six issues of the Marvel Comics Star Wars series that launched in 1977 (the same year as the first film), this first volume of Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago . . . is a must have for any Star Wars fan!
Lee: I love the way DH milks a franchise! A long time ago… hee hee hee.. DH issued full size trades of the Marvel Star Wars series. Then they went out of print and started to demand big money on the back issue market (ebay). NOW, we have the Omnibus which will skewer back issue values!! Oh well, I sold my copies long ago. But I’ll be getting this. The kids, Boy specifically, is all about Star Wars so I can give this to him to destroy. The first 26 issues certainly are entertaining so this is recommended reading if you haven’t already done so.
Jim: Some franchises just never die, I mean Star Wars is over 30 years old and personally outside of the first three movies I never cared about it.
Lee: I have to say that this was another excellent month for DH! Hideous for my wallet because I’m getting all the hc’s, but good otherwise.
Jim: Even when I don't love Dark Horse, I love Dark Horse. I know that they have quality products so that when I want to try something out from them I can be confident of getting a quality production.