Dark Horse Previews Picks: June 2016



At this point, Dark Horse has published more “Halo” comics for a longer time than when Marvel had the license to do so.  The one thing they haven’t done, however, is publish a hardcover anthology of short stories based in this videogame universe.  Well, that’s going to change this October when Dark Horse puts out the “Halo:  Tales From Slipspace” anthology.  Featuring work from the likes of John Jackson Miller, Jonathan Wayshak, Eric Nguyen, Kody Chamberlain, Dave Crosland and Simon Roy, as well as “Halo” comics writer Duffy Bordeau, and franchise staff Frank O’Connor and Tyler Jeffers, it should fit right in with the comics already being published by the company and its ongoing love of short stories.

Yet I remember when Marvel put out the “Halo Graphic Novel” and that was something of an event.  Not just because it was a full-on OGN from a company that had been staunchly averse to such things, but because it had an impressive and eclectic roster of talent for a licensed product.  The presence of artists like Simon Bisley, Moebius, and Tsutomu Nihei let you know that this wasn’t a project that was being handed off to whoever was in the Marvel offices that day and gave it a certain “must have” cachet in my mind.  Fortunately the end result turned out to be pretty good, given the talent involved.  That being said, this graphic novel also came out at a time when I had a vested interest in the “Halo” franchise and that time has long since passed.  “Tales From Slipspace” may wind up being good, but the (admittedly decent) lineup of talent Dark Horse has secured for it isn’t enough to rekindle my interest beyond typing this out.

The Art of Fire Emblem:  Awakening HC:  Now here’s a long-running game franchise that has made a remarkable comeback in recent years.  In case you hadn’t heard, declining sales for the franchise led to Nintendo telling “Fire Emblem” developers Intelligent Systems that “Awakening” would be the last one in the series.  So the developers put everything they wanted to in that game — including a revamped anime aesthetic and a support system that would allow most male and female characters to get married and have kids — and the end result finally broke through to earn a measure of mainstream success in the U.S. and increased sales in Japan.  Now, the latest game “Fates” and its three versions have become something of a minor phenomenon.  Enough to get Dark Horse to put out this artbook for the previous game.  They get points off for timeliness, but it’s also a good indication that an artbook for “Fates” will be in the offing if this sells well enough.

Call of Duty:  Black Ops III:  This trade paperback collects the six-issue prequel miniseries for the game written by longtime “G.I. Joe” writer Larry Hama.  I haven’t played a “CoD” game since “Modern Warfare 2” and I’m not sure if the straightlaced nature of the series is going to allow for Hama to infuse this comic with the kind of offbeat charm that makes his “G.I. Joe” comics from the 80’s still readable today.  Yes, they’re incredibly silly and filled with the kind of rah-rah military jingoism that thrived in the decade, but the cast is incredibly diverse and full of distinct personalities and it’s fun to see them interact and react with one another.  I’ll also admit that it’s fun seeing how neither side manages to gain the upper hand because of some dumb thing that one of their members winds up doing to tip the scales.  So no “Black Ops III” for me, but I’ll keep buying more of “Classic G.I. Joe” whenever it comes on sale.

The Complete Elfquest vol. 3:  FINALLY!  However, the fact that this is coming out over a year after vol. 2 suggests that these releases are going to be a (semi?) annual event.  It also suggests that vols. 1-2 didn’t sell as well as the company was expecting.  If they had, then we would’ve gotten this volume a lot sooner.  So if you don’t want vol. 4 to take even longer to come out, it’d be best to pick this up as soon as it arrives in August.

Dark Horse Comics/DC:  Superman:  Collecting most of the crossovers between Superman and Dark Horse’s stable of licensed and creator-owned characters.  You’ll be getting the two “Aliens” miniseries, one where he teamed up with “Tarzan,” and “The Superman/Madman Hullabaloo” by Mike Allred.  That last one is likely to provide a severe tonal and stylistic whiplash when read following the other miniseries, but coming from Mike Allred it’s also a solid bet for being the most entertaining one of the bunch.  Missing from this collection, for reasons unexplained, is “Superman vs. Predator,” so you’ll have to track that one down by itself if you want to read it.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.:  1953:  A collection of miniseries and (I think) at least one short story has the title character teaming up with his mentor, Prof. Bruttenholm, to confront some of the most horrible creatures in British folklore, and take on a monster ravaging a suburban community back in the States.  The previous volume of this title was notable for the fact that it had an artist, Alex Maleev, who had never drawn the character before (and hadn’t worked at Dark Horse in a while).  This time around we have Paolo Rivera and Michael Walsh stepping up for their first crack at “Hellboy” with Chris Roberson co-writing some of these issues.  They should provide some great visuals, but what I’m really looking forward to seeing is Ben Stenbeck’s contribution to this volume.  A seasoned veteran of the Mignolaverse, he hasn’t drawn any of Hellboy’s adventures himself yet.  Speaking of the boy himself…

Hellboy in Hell #10:  Billed as the finale for this series, it’s hard to work up much excitement for it at this point.  Even as the solicitation text tells us that Hellboy is going to transform into what he was always destined to be.  Why is that?  This series has been plagued by insane delays between issues that put it in the same league as “Powers” or the last run of “American Vampire.”  Mignola has also said that he was going to continue this series for as long as he was interested in drawing it, so it would appear that has come a lot sooner than expected.  For me, there’s just no momentum with the title right now, even as “B.P.R.D.” barrels along to its climax.  I’m sure the five issues collected here will make for a good read when they arrive in this collected form, but it’s hard to get excited for its arrival at this point.

Neon Genesis Evangelion:  The Shinji Ikari Raising Project Omnibus, Book One:  …In all fairness the first few volumes of this series were pretty fun and made for a nice alternative to the doom and gloom of the original anime and its official manga adaptation.  So if you want to see what I liked about this series before repetition and an utter lack of imagination drove it all into the ground, this is the only version of the manga you should consider picking up.

RG Veda Book One:  The first in a three-volume omnibus collection of CLAMP’s first professional work.  Based on a classic Indian saga, it follows the warrior-king of a people he couldn’t save as he protects the genderless Ashura and seeks the other “Six Stars” to defeat the usurper of Heaven’s Throne.  I’ve read enough manga over the years to the point where this premise sounds more than a little standard-issue to me.  That said, it is CLAMP’s first series and it’s from this that we got the likes of “Cardcaptor Sakura,” “Magic Knight Rayearth,” “Chobits,” “Angelic Layer,” “Tsubasa,” and “XXXholic.”  If nothing else, it sounds like fans of the manga collective will want to check this out for reasons of historical significance even if the storytelling hasn’t held up that well over the years.

jason@glickscomicpicks.com


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