Unless you count the build-up for The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts (featured in these solicitations) then there hasn’t been a lot of Dark Horse-centric news this past month. So I’m giving a special above-the board mention to the debut of a new manga title in these solicitations: Hatsune Miku: Rin-Chan Now! Vol. 1. I know nothing about the whole Vocaloid phenomenon beyond the fact that Hatsune Miku is the most popular of them all, and Unofficial Hatsune Mix was the most popular Dark Horse manga release of the past few years. Which is why you’ll likely be seeing more Vocaloid-related releases from the company after “Rin-Chan Now!” Not much is said about the manga itself in these solicitations, save for the fact that it’s by the same creators who did the “Rin-Chan Now!” music video. Remember, media tie-ins like this are the likely future of manga from Dark Horse, so expect to see more Vocaloid and anime-related titles from them in the future.
If that bothers you, then I’d recommend you go out and buy several volumes of Eden: It’s An Endless World, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, and/or I Am A Hero for yourself and your friends. Dark Horse isn’t going to know that you want more of titles like these if nobody is buying them.
Angel Catbird vol. 2: To Castle Catula: The first volume of “Angel Catbird” was renowned writer Margaret Atwood’s first graphic novel and the first of a trilogy. However, if you went into it expecting something along the lines of her literate and thoughtful fiction then you’d be in for a rude awakening. It’s a simple superhero story about a group of shape-changing cats at odds with a genetic engineer who’s also half-rat and looking to take over the world. As Atwood makes clear in her introduction, she’s doing this for fun and is in clear IDGAF mode. There’s some fun to be had here, but the story and characters are pretty simple. It’s something I’d have no problem letting my nieces read… if it wasn’t for all of the cat-pun-related talk about how the leads are really hot for each other. Vol. 2 has all the main feline players off to take refuge in Count Catula’s castle. That sentence represents the kind of crazy that the first volume could’ve used more of, so we’ll see if vol. 2 delivers on that front.
Bounty vol. 1: The Gadflies were once the most wanted criminals in the galaxy. Now they’re looking to become it’s best bounty hunters. I’m sure that’s going to go over well with all of their old friends. The biggest question with this volume is whether or not it’ll be the first title from Kurtis Wiebe that I’ll enjoy without reservation. “Peter Panzerfaust” and “Rat Queens” had significant issues either with the art or the storytelling that prevented me from getting fully invested in them. Maybe this volume will be the one where he finally delivers on his potential as a writer. It’s also arriving at an Image-worthy price point of $10 for the first five issues, so that’s a good thing too.
Dark Horse Presents #29: Worth a mention because the solicitation text tells us that the company is celebrating Francesco Francavilla’s first decade in comics! Which is great because he’s a tremendous talent whether he’s illustrating “Batman,” “Afterlife With Archie,” or his creator-owned title “The Black Beetle.” It’s that series which gets a new short in this issue called “Kara Bocek.” I’d be more excited for that if it weren’t for the fact that the first volume of “The Black Beetle” featured writing as pedestrian as the art was stunning. I’m sure this short will be collected years from now in another volume. After the first one, I can wait to see if Francavilla has improved as a writer even if his art remains just as stunning.
Dead Inside #1 (of 5): “B.P.R.D.’s” John Arcudi brings us this new crime series about a detective who investigates prison crimes. Most of the time they’re pretty easy to solve. You know, with the limited amount of suspects whose moves are tracked on a daily basis. This time around, Det. Linda Caruso is faced with a crime that leads her to uncover some uncomfortable truths. There doesn’t appear to be a supernatural angle to this and that’s fine. Arcudi has shown that he can do crime stories about real people in “The Creep,” about a private investigator with acromegaly. That said, the artist for this series is Toni Fejzula whose previous series, “Veil” with Greg Rucka, showed a real penchant for stylized work involving supernatural characters. We’ll see if he can rein those instincts in for this series. Unless it’s all a trick and the demons make their presence known at the end of this first issue.
Groo: Fray of the Gods: It turns out that I was mistaken about a couple things when I wrote up my thoughts on the first issues of this latest miniseries. One: It’s not another twelve-issue maxi-series, only a four-issue one. Two: Groo isn’t interacting with our gods. He’s mixing it up with fictional ones that Aragones and Evanier have created for this mini. That’s kind of disappointing, but I guess there’s still a limit to how much controversy these creators (and, by extension, Dark Horse itself) are willing to court. Besides, I’m sure it’ll be fun guessing which of the gods in Groo’s world are meant to be standing in for the ones in ours. It’s probably the only way they could actually fit Allah into the story anyway!
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Comic Strips: Further proof that if something is successful for Dark Horse, they will go on to reprint ANYTHING associated with it. This latest “He-Man” comic collection comes to us on the heels of the company’s compilation of the comics that were included along with the action figures. Now we’re getting a reprint of the newspaper comic strip series that ran in selected papers and continued the story from the end of the first animated series. I’d, uh, rather not think about the quality control (or lack thereof) that was involved in a newspaper strip from the 80’s that was based on a cartoon, that was based on a toy line. Still, if you’re into all things “He-Man” then this is something you’re probably going to want on your shelf.
Moby Dick HC: Adapted from Herman Melville’s book by writer/artist Christophe Chaboute. I’m sure it’ll be nice, but seeing this reminds me of the “Classics Illustrated” version of the story I used to have. That one had art from Bill Sienkiewicz and it was just as intense as you’d expect. Want to see an Ahab who is almost demonic in his obsession with the White Wale? Want to see a Moby Dick whose size and fury is the stuff of legend? That’s the version you want.
Tomb Raider Archives: How big was “Tomb Raider” in the 90’s? Big enough to spawn a best-selling comic book series from Top Cow. It also probably says more about how Lara Croft was presented in that era that this series came from Top Cow, as well as the likely quality of the issues collected here. Even if they’re coming from seasoned superhero writer Dan Jurgens, the Top Cow of the 90’s was a looooooooooong way from the company that would eventually bring us the likes of “Sunstone” and “Think Tank.” While the solicitation text promises contributions from the likes of Marc Silvestri, Michael Turner, and David Finch, only Andy Park and Francis Manapul are credited as artists for the fifteen issues collected here. So if you’re fans of the first three artists mentioned here, expect to only see the variant covers they contributed to this series. Being a 90’s title from Top Cow, however, there’s likely going to be a lot of them.