One of the titles in this month’s round of solicitations either represents a welcome second chance for a series or evidence that Dark Horse needs to re-think the way they promote original titles without a built-in audience. The Once and Future Queen is a modern-day female-centric spin on the Arthurian Legend from writers Adam Knave and D.J. Kirkbride, and artist Nick Brokenshire, the creators of “Amelia Cole.” This was originally solicited as a five-issue miniseries, of which two saw print before the remaining three were cancelled. Why? Well, the impression I got is that despite good reviews and word of mouth, the first two issues sold badly enough that releasing the rest would only put everyone involved further in the hole. Better for everyone to cut their losses now and release the whole thing in trade paperback form to see if it can find its audience that way.
While I’m sure the people who bought the first two issues may wind up feeling burned by this move, isn’t it good thing that the story will be completed in the end? I bring this up because it’s a similar situation to what the company has found itself in with regards to The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. Editor/English adapter extraordinaire Carl Horn has talked about how the sales of individual volumes of the series had rendered the title unprofitable, but reprinting it in three-in-one omnibi have actually brought it out of the hole. The problem is that they’ve already got volumes 13 & 14 in print so doing another omnibus collecting these and brand-new vol. 15 would burn faithful readers of the series. You know, ones like me.
Except I wouldn’t mind. I’d much rather pay $20 to get a brand new volume of the series along with two others I already own. It’s a much better prospect to consider than possibly not getting anymore “Kurosagi” at all. The same pretty much goes for “The Once and Future Queen.” Who knows, maybe it’ll sell well enough for the creators to consider doing a follow-up story. One that debuts as an original graphic novel, of course.
Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible vol. 1 HC: If you’re a follower of the Mignolaverse and haven’t been reading this series, well… that’s perfectly understandable. It’s been the runt of the line in terms of storytelling, frequently taking itself too seriously and delivering stories that don’t really go anywhere interesting. It has been host to some significant developments regarding the character and the direction of the Mignolaverse so it does have some value in that regard. This new format is also much cheaper as its $35 cover price for three volumes of the title basically amount to slightly more savings than a buy two and get one free deal. So if you’re going to start reading this series, this new edition is the way to go.
Aliens: Dead Orbit: A lone engineering officer is stuck on a space station after a xenomorph attack and has to MacGyver his way out to safety. That’s a solid premise even before you consider that this is coming to us from “Orc Stain” and “Godzilla: The Half-Century War” mastermind James Stokoe. As he showed with “Godzilla,” Stokoe is fully capable of bringing his A-game to licensed work and that should make for an excellent “Aliens” story when this collection arrives.
Best Wishes HC: An original graphic novel about two strangers whose dreams become intertwined when they cast coins into a fountain in Central Park. As to how Cal’s dreams of fame and respect and Mary’s desire for true love from her pro quarterback boyfriend will collide, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it’ll be some kind of “Freaky Friday” situation where Cal will switch bodies with Mary’s boyfriend? That sounds silly, but maybe the creators involved will be able to make it work. After all, “Creator of ‘Concrete’” Paul Chadwick is drawing it and co-writing this with Mike Richardson who is best known for being the publisher of and co-founding Dark Horse Comics. He’s also written a few comics himself from the intriguing “Cravan,” the straightforwardly OK “47 Ronin,” and the utterly abysmal third volume of “Star Wars: Crimson Empire.” Well, new work from Chadwick is a rare thing these days so it’s probably worth checking out just to see if the final product is more reflective of his sensibilities than Richardson’s.
Blood Blockade Battlefront vol. 8: Back after a very long hiatus just in time for the second season of the anime. It should be noted that this second season takes its name from the manga’s sequel “Blood Blockade Battlefront and Beyond.” There’s been no word the manga sequel has been licensed, so if you want to read it you’d best pick up this volume and the two that will follow it in 2018. As for what to expect in this volume: A sheik invites the members of Libra to dine on exotic Earth/Beyond fusion cuisine. Sounds about right for this title. Also, maybe this will be the volume where an analogue of Wolverine finally joins the cast? Libra already has analogues of Venom and Abe Sapien (no, really) on their team so getting Totally Not the Ol’ Canucklehead onboard seems like it’d be no problem.
Conan the Slayer vol. 2: The Devil in Iron: This volume is said to adapt the Robert E. Howard story of the same name where a beautiful woman lures the barbarian to a once-deserted island that is now inhabited by a demonic titan in order to end his life. I’ll admit that this sounds distressingly run-of-the-mill compared to many other “Conan” stories I’ve read from Dark Horse over the years. Still, writer Cullen Bunn and (especially) artist Sergio Davila made the familiar entertaining in their debut volume so maybe they’ll manage the same trick here. I can only hope that guest artists Admira Wijaya and Dheeraj Verma can measure up to the high artistic standard that Davila set in the previous volume.
Legacy: An Off-Color Novella For You to Color HC: Last year “Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk delivered “Bait: Off-Color Stories For You to Color.” I never got around to reading it, but I guess it was successful enough for him to go ahead and create this new color-your-own graphic novel with artists Mike Norton and Steve Morris. It’s about an amoral investment banker who receives notice of an inheritance promising immortality and the flame-retardant stripper, ruthless stalker, and horde of aspiring immortals who want to separate him from that. The coloring aspect of this story does nothing for me. That said, it is an intriguingly bizarre premise and the price is decent enough — $20 for 136 pages. File this one under “maybe.”
Mages of Mystralia: This 80-page graphic novella is described as a tie-in to a game of the same name that’s described as “highly anticipated.” I haven’t heard of it, so that does nothing for me. The premise does sound somewhat video-gamey as it involves a young mage ascending to kinghood in the wake of a deadly plague and becoming a bloodthirsty tyrant in the process. Enter the four battle captains who have stepped up to stop the mage before he destroys the kingdom. This doesn’t sound desperately interesting, but it is written by Brian Clevinger of “Giant Robo” fame. It could be that Clevinger will deliver some delicious black humor waiting inside of this graphic novella, but the solicitation text makes that hard to see from here.
The Massive: Ninth Wave: Well it’s about goddamn time. I don’t know why Dark Horse felt compelled to put Brian Wood and Garry Brown’s “The Massive” prequel miniseries in a hardcover format when it was first collected. None of the individual volumes of the series had been collected in hardcover before this. Now it’s finally getting the paperback collection I wanted and we’ll see if the stories of Ninth Wave’s exploits prior to the crash are more interesting than the ones they had after it.