Dark Horse Previews Picks: April 2017



There’s not really much to say about the company’s business above the board this month.  Unless you’re interested to know that they’ll be publishing an omnibus of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  Season Eight” later this year.  So it’s time to come back to my favorite talking point with the company:  manga.  I’m bringing it up once again because “Wave, Listen to Me!”, the latest series from Hiroaki Samura (creator of “Blade of the Immortal”) came out last Tuesday.  It’s about a waitress at a curry shop whose heartbroken drunken rambling at a bar leads to her getting a talk show on a local radio station.  The first volume is an energetic read, best appreciated by those familiar with Samura’s quirky and referential humor.

 

What it isn’t is published by Dark Horse.  Kodansha Comics released this digitally and it’s their second title from Samura after “Die Wergelder” came out back at the end of 2015.  While “Blade of the Immortal,” “Ohikkoshi,” and “Emerald” are likely not leaving Dark Horse, it would appear that Kodansha has secured Samura’s future output for themselves.  I’ve said before that without titles from new artists, all Dark Horse has to rely on going forward are license rescues, media tie-ins, and titles from creators they’ve already published.  With the publication of “Wave,” along with Kosuke Fujishima’s “Paradise Residence” and “Toppu GP,” it would appear that seeing more from that last category is looking increasingly unlikely.

Abe Sapien vol. 9:  Lost Lives and Other Stories:  FINALLY!  If you’re like me, then you’ve noticed that the collections of Abe’s ongoing series have had numerous gaps in them.  This is because those missing issues were one-offs from different artists which (apparently) had no relevance to the main story.  I’d been wondering when we’d be seeing a collection of them and now I have my answer.  So once June rolls around, we’ll finally get to see how the likes of Michael Avon Oeming, Kevin Nowlan, and Juan Ferreyra tackle Mignola’s iconic character and his adventures.

 

The Adventures of Superhero Girl (Expanded Edition) HC:  Hrm…  Much like with that new edition of Greg Rucka’s work on “Detective Comics,” Faith Erin Hicks’ fun take on the challenges (both super and not) faced by a female superhero is expanded.  I already bought the first edition of this, and based on the solicitation text it doesn’t look like this new one is going to be substantially larger.  If you’re wondering, the new edition is described as featuring two new stories and a gallery of pin-ups from other creators.  I have no problems recommending this to people who didn’t pick it up the first time around, but I think I’ll wait to see if I can snag this at a deep discount before replacing my existing copy.

 

Aliens:  Dead Orbit #1 (of 4):  New work from James Stokoe is not as frequent an occurrence as I’d like.  So even if his latest work isn’t new issues of “Orc Stain” (still holding the faith that it’ll come back at some point) I’m still onboard to see him tackle this particular franchise.  The premise is simple:  An engineering officer is stuck on a space station after a xenomorph outbreak and must use all of his available tools to survive.  I have faith that Stokoe will be able to mine the maximum amount of tension from this setup along with some fantastically detailed art to pore over as well.  Also, after his work on “Godzilla:  The Half-Century War” showed how he can still bring his A-game to licensed titles, I’ll be expecting as much here.

 

The Art of Splatoon HC:  Dark Horse’s partnership with Nintendo continues to roll along with this artbook for the hit title on the Wii U.  It’ll also likely be out in time to capitalize on the arrival of the sequel for the Switch in the summer.  I’m going to pass since the first game wasn’t my thing.  But if Dark Horse wants to put out one of the “Xenoblade” artbooks (either for the first game or “X”) then you can expect that I’ll have already pre-ordered my copy before I sit down to write about it.

 

ElfQuest:  The Final Quest vol. 3:  Vol. 2 promised a major revelation and it delivered on that point.  The problem is that said revelation was also a huge retcon that also made me go, “Why?”  Still, it did set things up so that the narrative may wind up being more focused starting with this volume.  If that’s the case, then maybe it’ll have been worth it.  Still, unless you’re already onboard with “ElfQuest” then you should stay far away from this continuity-dense series and bone up on its history through “The Complete” volumes instead.

 

Empowered vol. 10:  I had honestly forgot that we were due for a new volume after the last one came out in 2015, so seeing this in these solicitations was a pleasant surprise.  The solicitation text offers a minor (but welcome) spoiler in that Emp is now a full-time member of the Superhomeys.  After all that she went through in vol. 9, that sounds like the very least she deserved.  Of course, if you’re expecting that she’ll be able to take it easy after having been made an actual member of the world’s (Finest?  Best?  MOST BADICAL!) superhero team then that’s likely to not be the case.  Particularly since the solicitation text also promises the revelation of a “lover’s dark secret.”  For longtime readers of the series, that can only mean one thing (and likely a brutal cliffhanger too).

 

Hatsune Miku:  Acute:  You know what the “Vocaloid” franchise was missing up until now?  FEELZ!  At least that’s the impression I’m getting from the description of this volume which has three Vocaloids, Miku, Kaito, and Luka, collaborating on a song that will only bring sorrow.  It’s based on a video which accumulated 4.4 million (combined) views on YouTube and NicoNico.  Which, frankly, sounds like chump change compared to some of the views other viral videos I’ve seen on YouTube have posted.  Yes, I realize that was mean.  But whenever I see a new Vocaloid title from Dark Horse I can’t help but think, “Behold the future of manga at Dark Horse!”

 

The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century:  Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons’ series-of-miniseries about a female African-American soldier in a future dystopia was originally published in a pricey hardcover a few years back.  I have two volumes of this series in my collection, so I was hesitant to shell out for that edition.  Now that the entire series is being reprinted in a full-size paperback edition for $30, I’m much more inclined to add it to my library.

 

The Shaolin Cowboy:  Who’ll Stop the Reign #1 (of 4):  The first collection of the title character’s adventures was the very definition of style over substance.  It was fun to pore over Geof Darrow’s insanely detailed depictions of how the Cowboy would slaughter all the zombies before him, and that was it.  Also, the ending really put a damper on things and gives every impression that this series is going to be a prequel.  Or maybe not because I kinda doubt that Darrow is the kind of person who gives a fuck about continuity.  As long as the art and action are amazing, that’s all that will matter.

 

Usagi Yojimbo vol. 31:  The Hell Screen:  A new volume of “Usagi” is always something to look forward to.  This volume also features the sooner-than-expected return of Inspector Ishida as he investigates the mystery of the title object — a “ghastly” painting.  You can always expect a good mystery, murder or otherwise, when this character is involved.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com


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