Friday, March 06, 2009

Dark Horse Preview Review for May

Before you delve into this - it's Gwen's birthday today! Feel free to send her presents - especially Lee.

Jim: Damn we do our Preview Reviews a month after the solicitations are released on the internet. February is a short month (I know only 2 days), but boy does it cause these solicitations to show up fast.
Lee: This does seem like a really short month. Or at least February seemed really short. But, as time passes, I find myself looking forward to DH/Image more than Marvel/DC.

ALIENS #1 (of 4)
John Arcudi (W), Zach Howard (P/Cover), and Mark Irwin (I)
On sale May 27 FC, 32 pages $3.50Miniseries
A group of wildcat planetary prospectors plant their flag on a distant new world, rich in land, resources . . . and mystery. Within this seemingly uninhabited planet lies the greatest archaeological discovery in history: an ancient, abandoned complex of impossible proportions carved deep within the living rock, a mind-numbing labyrinth of passages, ramps, bridges, and galleries that seems to extend limitlessly. But as the exploration of the leviathan dead city proceeds deeper and deeper, the members of the team slowly begin to lose their grip on reality. But madness gives way to fear as the explorers begin to disappear one by one. Something else lives within the necropolis, a faceless horror as deadly and merciless as space itself, a lethal terror that has waited centuries to awake . . . and destroy.
• Aliens #1 is the first act in the relaunch of all three classic Dark Horse/Fox comics series. The release of Aliens #1 will coincide with the Thirtieth anniversary of the Ridley Scott-helmed film masterpiece, Alien, and will be preceded by an Aliens/Predator special for Free Comic Book Day! • Featuring the top-flight creative team of writer John Arcudi (The Mask, B.P.R.D., Doom Patrol), penciller Zach Howard (Sean of the Dead, Outer Orbit), and inker Mark Irwin (X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, Batman, Amazing Spider-Man).

Jim: Dark Horse is getting back into Aliens in a big way this year and while I’m not getting all skippy over it, I will check out the first issue of this newest series. The big alien bugs can be interesting when done right.
Lee: It’s been awhile since either Aliens movie or comic books series. I wonder if there isn’t something else up? Or if this is just to keep the license.

Dave McKean (W/A)
On sale July 22FC, 496 pages $29.95 TPB, 8 1/2" x 11 1/4"
Dave McKean’s Cages is finally back in print!
Best known for his collaborations with Neil Gaiman, McKean defied expectations with his stunning debut as writer and artist with Cages, the winner of multiple awards for Best Graphic Album.
Filled with complex characters, intriguing flights of fancy, and all the beautiful visuals you’d expect from the director of MirrorMask, Cages is McKean’s magnum opus. It chronicles the intersecting lives of a painter, a writer, and a musician living in the same apartment building, and is a profound rumination on art, God, cats, and the cages we build for ourselves.
• Out of print for years, Cages is finally available in an affordable new softcover edition, remastered and newly redesigned, with a brand-new cover by McKean.

Jim: This is one of those projects that sounds a little too artsy for my taste. I guess after being chastised by Grant Morrison for being stupid in not understanding the magnificence of Final Crisis I’m worried I will not understand all the deep meanings in Cages. (There should be a sarcasm font!)
Lee: I need to get through Sienkiewicz ‘Stray Toasters’ before I commit to this. I’ve always heard good things so it will probably, eventually, come home. I wonder why this wasn’t a hc if it was that good though.

Brian Ewing (W/A)
On sale July 1FC, 112 pages $22.95 HC, 8 1/2" x 11"
Sharp as broken glass, smooth as a polished skull, dark as the other side of the moon—this is the art of Brian Ewing, one of the leading-edge visual voices of graphic pop surrealism and the exploding rock-poster scene. Don’t Hold Your Breath is the first collection of Ewing’s stunning catalog, featuring posters, illustrations, and album covers for Bad Religion, Queens of the Stone Age, Metallica, Detective Comics, My Chemical Romance, The Bouncing Souls, Brand New, The Melvins, Warped Tour, The New Yorker, High on Fire, The Strokes, Fall Out Boy, and many more. Plus original art prints, skate decks, shirt designs, zombie masks, and skulls, skulls, skulls! Foreword by Kevin Lyman, creator of the Warped Tour.
• Brian Ewing’s work is well known among rock fans and collectors of the booming rock-poster market.
• Brian’s diverse list of commercial clients includes the Warped Tour, Suicide Girls, Guitar Hero II, Budweiser, Samsung, Kia Motors, Marvel Comics, Guitar World, and many more.
See samples of Ewing’s posters/art here

Jim: This is a pre-emptive pick as Lee would be all over this book, like white on rice. As a public service I will be pick this book and say – it appears to be yet another music / comic mystical connection.
Lee: This is pop-commercial art at its best and I really like that DH is releasing this book. I love rock poster art and this is some of the best. It might not be a music-comic story connection but it’s certainly got an comic art connection.

Frank Miller (W) and Dave Gibbons (A)
On sale July 1FC, 600 pages $99.95HC, 8" x 12"
On sale July 1FC, 600 pages $250.00Ltd. HC, 8" x 12"
A masterpiece nearly twenty years in the making, this archival, oversized, and slipcased hardcover volume contains the complete life story of Martha Washington, the twenty-first century freedom fighter created by comic-book megastars Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen).
Our story begins in the squalid corridors of a maximum-security housing project, where a young girl will rise from the war-torn streets of Chicago to battle injustice in a world insane with corruption. She will be called a hero, a traitor, and nearly everything in between, but all along the way, her courage, her integrity, and her unwavering commitment to that most valuable of rights—liberty—will inspire a movement that will never surrender.
• Collecting meticulously remastered versions of every Martha Washington story, and features a comprehensive behind-the-scenes section, a new introduction by Frank Miller and extensive commentary by Dave Gibbons.
• The ultra-limited edition features tip-in pencil art by Dave Gibbons that is signed by both creators and numbered to only one hundred copies!

Jim: I read some of this material and felt it was enjoyable, but not the best work of either creator. I saw the solicitation and started to consider buying it and saw the price and ran away from it.
Lee: Actually, it’s not any better or worse price wise than the Marvel Omnibus’s. I would prefer a couple of smaller collection but at $100, I’m passing too. Which is too bad because I would really like it.

John James (W)
On sale July 8b&w, 288 pages $12.95 Novel, 5 1/4" x 8"
The Neil Gaiman Presents program will be devoted to returning to print long-unavailable works in affordable paperback editions personally selected by Gaiman. Each book will carry a new introduction by Gaiman, speaking to the reasons why he selected the book for this line, as well as why the book deserves a wider audience.
A comedy set in the second century AD, Votan is the story of a Greek nobleman who is traveling and living abroad in Germany while carrying on an affair with a military man’s wife. To save his own life, he takes an emergency business trip and packs with his belongings certain items that lead the townspeople he encounters to think him a Norse God, which he doesn’t try to dissuade them from. Written in the same tone as Douglas Adams, the story unfolds in a humorous and adventurous manner as the lead character has to keep up the pretense of being a god while staying one step ahead of his lover’s jealous husband.
• This is the second of six titles in the Neil Gaiman Presents line to specifically deal with the subject of gods and mythology, chosen by Gaiman to represent the origins of his views on classic heroic literature.
• Contains a new introduction by Neil Gaiman available nowhere else.

Lee: DH continues to amaze me with the material they publish. Granted this is a book but they managed to attach Gaiman’s name to it. And, I’m always looking for good print books to read so I think that I’ll be getting this. TAKE NOTE PEOPLE! You should read at least one print-print book a year. It’s good for you like asparagus.
Jim: While I will not be buying this I will agree with Lee, a pure prose book is always a good thing to read. If nothing else it helps to stimulate your own imagination and you can envison the characters without someone's help.

Gabriel Bá (W/A), Becky Cloonan (W/A), Vasilis Lolos (W/A), and Fábio Moon (W/A)
On sale July 15b&w, 128 pages $17.95 HC, 6" x 9"
This gripping tale of urban horror follows the lives of five lonely tenants—strangers—whose lives become intertwined when they discover a dark mark scrawled on the walls of their building. The horror sprouts quite innocently from a small seed and finds life as something otherworldly, damaged, full of love, hate, fear, and power. As the walls come alive, everyone is slowly driven mad—defenseless against the evil in the building, stripped of free will, leaving only confusion, chaos, and eventual death.
Originally self-published as a two-volume book, this groundbreaking work receives a deluxe presentation in a hardcover edition with a sketchbook section.
• The 2008 Eisner Award-winning team for Best Anthology—Gabriel Bá (The Umbrella Academy), Becky Cloonan (American Virgin), Vasilis Lolos (The Last Call), and Fábio Moon (Sugarshock)—return with their latest collaboration, Pixu: The Mark of Evil.
“The story telling here is beautiful, creating a real sense of dread and supernatural menace. Smart, subtle and genuinely disturbing.”—Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy

Jim: This sounds very appealing with some creators I know and have enjoyed their art and a price that is reasonable.
Lee: I’m with Jim on this. 6x9 is smaller than I would like but with the names attached I’m willing to take the chance.

RAPTURE #1 (of 6)
Michael Avon Oeming (W/A/Cover), Taki Soma (W), Val Staples (C), and Alex Maleev (Cover)
On sale May 27FC, 40 pages$2.99Miniseries
After warring for a century, Earth’s greatest champions and villains suddenly disappear, leaving the planet devastated. Like a rapture, the Powers are gone and humanity is left behind to pick up the pieces. Amongst this wreckage, two lovers, Evelyn and Gil, find themselves separated by a continent and will do anything to find each other again. But when a strange being named “The Word” turns Evelyn into a champion with an angelic spear, she finds the force of her love for Gil clashing with her newfound power. Love and destiny collide in what will become the worst breakup—ever.

Jim: Another husband/wife team doing a book. So if Taki is mad at Mike, does she not draw the book or what? I may glance at this at the store when it comes out, but this is not a pre-order for me.
Lee: You’ll have to let me know how it is. I’m still not sold on Oeming’s ability as a writer. I’m sure it will look great but I need more than that to get a floppie these days.

Scott Allie (W), Mario Guevara (P), Dave Stewart (C), and Mike Mignola (Cover)
On sale July 15FC, 128 pages$15.95TPB, 7" x 10"
Robert E. Howard’s vengeance-obsessed puritan begins his supernatural adventures in the haunted Black Forest of Germany in this adaptation of Howard’s “The Castle of the Devil.” When Solomon Kane stumbles upon the body of a boy hanged from a rickety gallows, he goes after the man responsible—a baron feared by the peasants from miles around. Something far worse than the devilish baron or the terrible, intelligent wolf that prowls the woods lies hidden in the ruined monastery beneath the baron’s castle, where a devil-worshiping priest died in chains centuries ago.
• This team’s debut Kane story is available for free at .
• Collects the Solomon Kane five-issue miniseries.

Lee: Did you read this in single issue format? The art really, really intrigues me but I’m really wondering how the story held up.
Jim: Yes I read this as single issues. It held up well and I think it will actually read very well as a trade. The art is very strong and a big plus for this book. The story was hurt by the month lag, but as a trade it should hang together.

Paul S. Newman (W) and Various (A)
On sale July 1FC, 224 pages$49.95HC, 7" x 10"
Earth’s prehistoric past flourishes in a lost valley where two young Native Americans, Turok and Andar, have become trapped. While they struggle to survive among the honkers (dinosaurs) and prehistoric human residents, they hold on to the hope that one day they will discover a way out of the valley and be reunited with their tribe.
• In early 2008, a seventy-minute animated DVD titled Turok, Son of Stone was released by Classic Media.
• This volume collects Turok: Son of Stone #7–#12.

Jim: Is he really this popular? Really? A second archive with a print run of what 100?
Lee: I’m still interested, but I need to see a copy first.

Sergio Bleda (W/A)
On sale July 1 b&w, 188 pages $16.95 TPB, 6 1/4" x 9 3/8"
Jacob is a two-hundred-and-fifty-year-old vampire whose world is turned upside down when he’s forced to intervene to save Naomi—the mortal he loves—from an attack by some neo-Nazis.
Agnes is a young vampire who meets Anna, a recent convert she’ll have to guide along in her new immortal existence.
What none of them knows is that their destiny has been laid out in advance by the White Vampire, a master manipulator who craves control over the ancestral power living within Anna.
• A hit throughout Europe, this is the first collected edition of the best-selling miniseries.
• Marks the first major publication in English of Sergio Bleda, a rising star in European comics.
• Published in conjunction with Bonelli Comics, publishers of such hit series as Dylan Dog and Martin Mystery, also available from Dark Horse.
You can see some of Bleda’s art here at this Spanish comic shop

Lee: Again, DH continues to impress me. Like Marvel’s Soliel line, DH is plundering material from Europe. DH has been down this road before with limited success but I think I’ll get this just to support the line. It doesn’t hurt that it sounds really good too.
Jim: Hell you will not get me to complain about Dark Horse publishing stuff outside the box, this is what makes Dark Horse what it is.

Jim; An off month for Dark Horse in my opinion. All the Howard stuff is done but Conan, one BPRD book, but no new Fear Agent, Umbrella Academy or Goon.
Lee: I thought the month was pretty good. Lots of new and interesting stuff.

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