Dark Horse Presents #3 (2011)

Comic book, 2011

The new Dark Horse Presents series, on a base level, just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t feel there’s a broad enough comics readership to support a monthly anthology, even if they are loading it with all the biggest print comics names they possibly can. And it costs eight dollars. Monthly. Okay guys, I’m sure you know what you’re doing. But in my experience comics fans cling tenaciously to the idea of smaller purchases that reward them with a slowly revealed extended narrative. Prove me wrong! Really. Overall I’ve only kind of liked the content of this series. There’s no one short I can point to and say “This. This is why the new Dark Horse Presents needs to exist,” but I’m hoping it comes. The biggest problem with this series is its lack of scope. The editorial on this thing is… not fresh, to say the least. Pretty much everything here looks twenty years old. My advice to Dark Horse would be to make this thing more diverse. There have been a few new names to hit the scene since Neal Adams and Dave Gibbons, guys. They’re great old masters, but they’re not going to give you the wide appeal that could make this book really vital. Get Kate Beaton, CF, Cursed Pirate Girl, Ethan Rilly, the guy who draws Dresden Codak. This is all new stuff that would totally fit Dark Horse Presents that people who aren’t forty would get fucking jazzed about, and you could mix it right in with the stuff you’re doing now. This could be so great.

Here’s what we get in this issue:

  • Dave Gibbons’ Treatment is I don’t know. I like looking at his art sometimes, but it didn’t do too much for me here. The story seems kind of like a bunch of cliches thrown together (cop’s last day before retirement, reality tv parody, ultraviolence, etc.)
  • Number 13 is awful. Awful writing, awful art. I checked to see if any of the creators have the last name “Richardson”, but they don’t. The worst part about it is probably the colors. They’re not terrible, they’re standard mainstream comic book coloring. But the art is most definitely “underground” and would probably look better if it wasn’t colored the same way as Dave Gibbons’.
  • The new DHP is my first exposure to Finder, which always seems to be a pleasant little poof of a story that leaves my head just as soon as I turn the page.
  • The Concrete story is appropriately preachy, but has an ending so silly and weird I kind f love it.
  • I only found out about Howard Chaykin within the last couple of years, and other than loving Black Kiss, I just can’t seem to “get” his stuff. But I don’t really care about Snatch or Reservoir Dogs either, so maybe it’s not just for me. Something about this installment of Marked Man really caught my eye though, enough to make me think about going back and reading the previous installments.
  • Similarly, the Jim Steranko material seemed good but not for me.
  • Patrick Alexander’s humor material, of which there will apparently be some in every issue, has taken a nose dive for me, going from brilliant in the first issue, okay in the second and this issue’s Indecisive Man being totally boring.
  • Richard Corben’s Murky World serial has been my favorite thing in all of the issues, due to it being nothing but a clearing house for Corben’s unbridled imagination and skill, a feat for which the medium of comics is particularly suited.
  • Rotten Apple reads like the dull, lifeless adaptation of a video game that, as far as I know, doesn’t exist. I read the first installment a month ago and remembered nothing about it, then promptly understood nothing about the second installment.
  • David Chelsea’s Snow Angel is delightful, but it seems to take up a bit too much space for how light it is.
  • I consider having read every word of Neal Adam’s Blood to be an achievement in endurance, like holding your hand in a bucket of cold water for an extended period of time. Seriously, what the fuck is this?
  • Mr. Monster. Dude. ENOUGH! This is the third goddamn loosely drawn story about Mr. Monster fighting the same tree monster. I would have preferred that Michael T Gilbert work three times as hard on a story 1/3 the length, or made three completely different MM stories. Reading about this fucking tree monster again and again feels like work, and that’s the worst thing you can say about something like this. I’d say thank god it’s over, but I’ve been burned before.

At this point I’m kind of waiting to see how long it takes my ambivalence toward most of the material to win out and cause me to yank this title from my pull list. But for now there’s enough stuff coming that I’m genuinely excited about (Beasts of Burden, Geoff Darrow interview, Bob Burden, Hellboy and BPRD stories) to give it a stay of execution.

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