Aliens

Dark Horse Comics 16 (December 1993)

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I feel like I need to send Dan Jolley a thank you letter for making this issue of Dark Horse Comics tolerable. Well, for his Aliens story anyway. It’s got an unexpected conclusion. There’s not a lot of story—it’s a chase sequence and a resolution—but Jolley plays with expectations a little. Nadeau and Pallot do fine on art.

Naifeh and inker Alex Nino, however, are even worse this issue than last on their Thing story. Not the mention Martin’s conclusion is mildly inexplicable. It’s too bad Dark Horse didn’t keep their creators on the Thing comics consistent. Martin really doesn’t cut it, when it comes to plotting. I guess his dialogue is fine, but the art’s so ugly it’s hard to even look at the story.

As for Charles Moore, D. Alexander Gregory and Rob Hayes’s Predator with gangsters in the forties?

The art’s good. Moore’s writing isn’t.

CREDITS

Predator, The Hunted City, Part One; writer, Charles Moore; penciller, D. Alexander Gregory; inker, Rob Hayes; colorist, Gregory Wright; letterer, Bill Pearson. Aliens, Cargo , Part Two; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, John Nadeau; inker, Terry Pallot; colorist, James Sinclair; letterer, Clem Robins. The Thing From Another World, Questionable Research, Part Four; writer, Edward Martin III; penciller, Ted Naifeh; inker, Alex Nino; colorist, Ray Murtaugh; letterer, Robins. Editors, Randy Stradley and Martin; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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Dark Horse Comics 15 (November 1993)

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Well, when Naifeh’s art falls off, The Thing gets a lot less interesting. Martin falls into the same tropes the pervious series did (even though Martin ignores them)—repeating the plot points in the Thing movie, only in a new setting. But Naifeh’s the disappointment here. It doesn’t even look like his work.

Barr and Rader finish up The Mark. Barr seems to let Rader just take over and create this homage to a film noir, only in color. It reminds a lot of M. The installment ends on a soft cliffhanger, preparing for a limited series, and it’s unnecessarily confusing.

Dan Jolley, John Nadeau and Terry Pallot contribute an Aliens story. It’s perfectly fine (compared to The Thing). Jolley concentrates on his first person narration; he does a good job with it, combining a natural tone with his exposition. Nadeu and Pallot are competent, what I expect from Aliens.

CREDITS

The Thing From Another World, Questionable Research, Part Three; writer, Edward Martin III; penciller, Ted Naifeh; inker, Alex Nino; colorist, Ray Murtaugh. The Mark, Part Two: What Goes Around; writer, Mike W. Barr; artist, Brad Rader; colorist, John A. Wilcox. Aliens, Cargo , Part One; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, John Nadeau; inker, Terry Pallot; colorist, James Sinclair. Letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Bob Schreck, Dan Thorsland, Randy Stradley and Martin; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Comics 13 (September 1993)

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So is Dark Horse Comics where Dark Horse stuck all their licensed properties once Presents’s sales dropped?

The creative teams are mildly interesting. Jim Woodring writing Aliens—nothing happens, it’s an all action story—with Kilian Plunkett on the art? It looks good anyway.

Ted Naifeh pencilling a Thing story? It’s more distinct because Edward Martin III’s script sort of ignores all the other Dark Horse Thing comics. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, but Martin’s a little less creative than one would like.

Then it’s an Evan Dorkin Predator story. It’s kind of funny—a Predator crashes a paint ball competition. But the humor doesn’t carry over to the dialogue; it’s just a funny idea. The Derek Thompson art is trying something different for a Predator story, lots of emotive, elongated faces.

It’s interesting to see these attempts, but none of them are good. Especially not the Aliens.

CREDITS

Aliens, Backsplash, Part Two; writer, Jim Woodring; artist, Kilian Plunkett; colorist, Matthew Hollingsworth; letterer, Ellie De Ville. The Thing From Another World, Questionable Research, Part One; writer, Edward Martin III; penciller, Ted Naifeh; inker, Moose Baumann; colorist, Ray Murtaugh; letterer, Clem Robins. Predator, Bad Blood, Part Two; writer, Evan Dorkin; penciller, Derek Thompson; inker, Ande Parks; colorist, Robbie Busch; letterer, Pat Brosseau. Editors, Ryder Windham, Randy Stradley and Martin; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 147 (October 1999)

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I wanted to like Ragnok—not because Arcudi’s writing, but because Sook’s on the art. But it’s dark and indistinct. Lots and lots of black—very Mignola-lite. If Arcudi maybe had an interesting script, it would work. Unfortunately, the script seems to be going for something eccentric; Sook’s art doesn’t fit it. Maybe it’ll get better….

The last Ghost installment is a waste of time. Luke’s writing has gotten steadily worse as the installments went on (this time, when he tries to talk about sexism, it’s painful). Worse, Baker and Kolle’s art suffers from the script. There’s this waste of a full page panel. Still, it has a funny conclusion.

And Aliens vs. Predator finishes awful. Thompson and O’Connell’s weak art certainly doesn’t help it, but the fault is the script. Edginton goes a different route than expected—he ignores the heavy continuity and just writes a dumb story.

CREDITS

Ragnok, Part One; story by John Arcudi; art by Ryan Sook; lettering by Mike Heisler. Ghost, The Woes of Sinful Bachelors, Part Three; story by Eric Luke; pencils by H.M. Baker; inks by Bernard Kolle; lettering by Steve Haynie. Aliens vs. Predator, The Web, Part Two; story by Ian Edginton; art by Derek Thompson and Brian O’Connell; lettering by Clem Robins. Edited by Randy Stradley and Chris Haberman.

Dark Horse Presents 146 (September 1999)

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I was really expecting more from Edginton here. His Aliens vs. Predator starts out as a rip of Alien—bickering crew, uncharted planet—only adding in aliens once the people land (they don’t have spacesuits either). But then it turns out to be a poorly conceived “thirty years in the future” sequel to the first Aliens vs. Predator series. Doesn’t help Thompson and O’Connell’s art is weak. Though I guess the spaceship looks all right.

Shabrken continues with enthusiasm from artists Henry and Lieber (though the scale of the events gets out of control). It’s not terrible—Hartley’s writing is solidly mediocre—it’s just pointless.

Arcudi scripts the Glack strip for Blickenstaff. Considering it’s two lines of dialogue, not sure why it needed a separate writer.

Then Ghost continues. Baker and Kolle’s art is crisp, but Luke is trying to write her as a pulp hero. It doesn’t work out.

CREDITS

Aliens vs. Predator, The Web, Part One; story by Ian Edginton; art by Derek Thompson and Brian O’Connell; lettering by Clem Robins; co-edited by Philip D. Amara. Shabrken, Dark Exorcism, Part Two; story by Mark Henry and Welles Hartley; pencils by Henry; inks by Gary Lieber; lettering by Amador Cisneros. Glack; story by John Arcudi; art by Stephen Blickenstaff. Ghost, The Woes of Sinful Bachelors, Part Two; story by Eric Luke; pencils by H.M. Baker; inks by Bernard Kolle; lettering by Steve Haynie. Edited by Randy Stradley and Adam Gallardo.

Dark Horse Presents 140 (February 1999)

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The art’s not terrible on the Aliens story—Leonardi and Wiacek do all right (they certainly get the art win for this issue)—but Schultz and Amara’s writing is atrocious. They don’t just feel the need for bad dialogue, they want lots of it too. There’s endless poorly written expository dialogue. And the story is some segue into Dark Horse’s next crappy Aliens series, it doesn’t bother focusing on the neat idea—the aliens home planet. Anyway, decent looking crap.

Then it’s Usagi Yojimbo—my first time reading it ever. I thought the art would be better. Sakai seems to be doing a kids’ book, regardless of the samurai content, but he doesn’t take much time detailing his figures. I wouldn’t even call it anatomy.

Chichester, Barberi and Hvam’s Saint Slayer is ugly and bad. The art’s incomprehensible and Chichester’s writing makes the Aliens guys seem like Faulkner. Total crap.

CREDITS

Aliens, Once in a Lifetime; story by Mark Schultz and Philip D. Amara; pencils by Rick Leonardi; inks by Bob Wiacek; lettering by Steve Haynie. Usagi Yojimbo; story, art and lettering by Stan Sakai. Saint Slayer, Last Bus to Pandemonium, Part Two; story by Dan Chichester; pencils by Carlo Barberi; inks by Jason Hvam; lettering by Clem Robins. Edited by Randy Stradley and Terry Waldron.

Dark Horse Presents Annual 1997 (February 1998)

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For a Presents annual (or oversized special), this one has a lot of solid work.

Pearson’s Body Bags is a fun diversion. The art’s great and the story moves. It gets a little visually confusing, but it’s good.

And Verheiden (with Marrinan) finally produces a decent installment of The American. It’s a thoughtful story, very well written.

Arcudi and Musgrove’s The Oven Traveler is dumb. It’s a one page story dragged to four.

Aliens (from Smith and Morrow) is atrocious. It’s Aliens meets Westworld. If it weren’t terrible, it’d be an interesting genre mix—plus, Morrow can’t draw the aliens. They look awkward and goofy, not at all frightening.

Jillette and French’s Rheumy Peepers and Chunky Highlights is overwritten but mildly diverting….

Stephens and Allred’s The Stiff is decent, if too silly.

Then there’s a decent Pope finish. It’s a talking heads story, which seems like a waste of Pope.

CREDITS

Body Bags; story and art by Jason Pearson. The American, The Big Deal; story by Mark Verheiden; art by Chris Marrinan; lettering by Sean Konot. The Oven Traveler; story by John Arcudi; art by Scott Musgrove. Aliens, Tourist Season; story by Beau Smith; art by Gray Morrow; lettering by John Costanza; edited by Bob Schreck. The Adventures of Rheumy Peepers and Chunky Highlights; story by Penn Jillette; art by Renée French. The Stiff, Disappearing Act; story, inks and lettering by Jay Stephens; pencils by Mike Allred. Four Cats; story and art by Paul Pope. Edited by Jamie S Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 121 (May 1997)

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The issue opens with Zero Boy and Pander’s Jack Zero, which starts out a little awkwardly… but then quickly establishes itself as a good Western. Pander’s art looks fantastic, bringing a lot of energy to the setting and Zero Boy’s script is thoughtful.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Nixey’s Trout installment this issue. He changes up styles here for effect (a dream sequence) and it loses the charm the previous entries had. It’s confounding and almost adversarial. Nixey doesn’t give a point of entry for the reader here.

Macan and Edwards’s Aliens story is kind of interesting, without being noteworthy (rather good art from Edwards, of course). Macan doesn’t like the sci-fi constraints and wants to tell a human story instead; it’s a little obvious and doesn’t work.

Then Snejbjerg does scripting and art on Lords of Misrule. It’s creepy, with great art, but an awkward finish.

CREDITS

Jack Zero, Part One; story by Zero Boy; art by Arnold Pander; lettered by John Costanza. Trout, Nicky Nicky Nine Doors, Part Three; story and art by Troy Nixey. Aliens, Borderlines; story by Darko Macan; art by Tommy Lee Edwards; lettering by John Workman. The Lords of Misrule, Part Two; story and art by Peter Snejbjerg; lettering by Annie Parkhouse; edited by Ian R. Stude. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 117 (January 1997)

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Okay, Dr. Spin and Trypto come around a little here.

First, Rennie finally finds some kind of narrative for his characters (reassembling a disbanded team) to go along with all the comic book jokes. Though he does coin the title, “Infinite Crisis,” here. A shame he couldn’t sue DC. Langridge’s art is excellent, but the composition doesn’t allow for one to easily notice all his details.

Mumy and Ferrer find a story on Trypto too. The kid finds out his dog is some kind of space dog (Leialoha’s terrible about illustrating the bad aliens as cats though—it’s sort of incredible). The story’s a got a mildly touching ending, following a nice alternate reality sequence.

Then there’s the Aliens story, from Barr and Colan. Colan’s already in his pencils only phase here and Dark Horse published them without much clean-up. It’s okay Colan, decent dialogue, total waste of time.

CREDITS

Aliens, Headhunters; story by Mike W. Barr; art by Gene Colan; lettering by Sean Konot. Dr. Spin, Part Three, Requiem for a Heavyweight; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Five, Days of Future Past; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 102 (October 1995)

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Shockingly, the Niles story story this issue–one of his Cal McDonald ones–is mildly inoffensive. It’s poorly written detective narration, but at least he’s work in a recognized genre (badly written detective narration). It’s stupid and Casey Jones’s art isn’t any good… but it’s not intolerable.

Oh, the Marz and Wrightson Aliens story ends this issue too. It’s not as predictable as I thought it was going to be, but it’s still pointless. Maybe it’s setup for a series or something.

Shaw’s Alan Bland, about a floundering painter, is all right. Shaw’s art isn’t quite finished enough for the cartoon look, which he seems to be going for. He’s too busy with lines. But it’s not bad.

Pekar and Sacco contribute another page–this time so Pekar can tell jazz enthusiasts to check out Sun Ra. Thanks Harvey.

The issue ends with a sublime Pope installment. It’s just lovely.

CREDITS

Aliens, Incubation, Part Two; story by Ron Marz; art by Bernie Wrightson; lettering by Sean Konot. Alan Bland, That’s Mr. Painter to You, Part One; script and art by Stan Shaw. Sun Ra; story by Harvey Pekar; art by Joe Sacco. Cal McDonald, Hairball, Part One; story by Steve Niles; pencils by Casey Jones; inks by Bruce Patterson; lettering by Konot. The One Trick Rip-Off, Part Two; story and art by Paul Pope; lettering by Michael Neno. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 101 (September 1995)

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Wow, has Steve Niles ever been able to write? He has a story in this issue and it’s the worst written police procedural I think I’ve ever read. A hundred issues or no, if Dark Horse was publishing Niles… imagine what made the reject pile. The Paul Lee art on the story is bad, but much better than the writing.

Musgrove’s The Alienator is more bad writing. At least the art is good. Musgrove’s drawing a bunch of ugly stuff, but he does it well. His writing is… well, it’s almost as bad as Niles’s.

There’s some inexplicable Aliens story from Marz too. But Wrightson’s doing the art so it at least looks great.

Pope’s the saving grace—One Trick Rip-Off starts this issue. This first installment sets it up as a heist story. Fantastic art; a great eight pages.

Pekar and Sacco contribute a pointless “human interest” piece.

CREDITS

Aliens, Incubation, Part One; story by Ron Marz; art by Bernie Wrightson; lettering by Sean Konot. Iced; story by Steve Niles; art by Paul Lee; lettering by Konot. The Alienator; story and art by Scott Musgrove. The One Trick Rip-Off, Part One; story and art by Paul Pope; lettering by Michael Neno. A Rose for Greg Selker; story by Harvey Pekar; art by Joe Sacco. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 56 (November 1991)

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This oversized issue opens and closes with an Aliens two-parter. Loose art from Guinan and Akins doesn’t help Arcudi’s script. It’s absolutely incomprehensible if you don’t read the Aliens series.

Byrne finally produces a Next Men I’m not interested in. It’s two government guys revealing all. The art’s really, really mediocre. It’s like even Byrne doesn’t have any interest in this part of the story, which really makes one wonder why he’s bothering tell it.

Duffy and Geary both have nice stories. Duffy (with Chacon art) has an amusing fantasy story, Fancies about a tavern fight, while Geary does the history of Eldgytha. She was British royalty who had a lot of husbands. It’s fantastically concise and engaging work from Geary.

Sin City is crap, but not as mean-spirited as Earth Boys.

Arcudi and Eaglesham’s The Creep is good. It’s maybe the best thing I’ve read from Arcudi.

CREDITS

Aliens, The Alien; story by John Arcudi; pencils by Tony Akins; layouts and inks by Paul Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. The Next Men, Prelude; story, art and lettering by John Byrne. Fancies; story by Jo Duffy; art by Joven Chacon; lettering by Gaspar Saladino. The True Chronicle of Eldgytha; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Sin City, Episode Seven; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. The Creep; story by John Arcudi; art by Dale Eaglesham; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Earth Boys, The Trouble with Kiib’Bllz; story by Cliff Biggers and Brett Brooks; art by Dave Johnson; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special (April 1991)

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This special is far from an accurate representation of Dark Horse Presents. Everything looks very professional.

The Aerialist and Heartbreakers installments are both long needed establishments of the series’ ground situation.

I even liked the Heartbreakers one (Bennett’s writing is far stronger from the clones’ perspective, versus their creator).

There’s also lots of disposable stuff–Concrete, The American and Black Cross are all weak, though Warner’s art is better on Cross than I’ve ever seen it. Chadwick and Verheiden use their stories to blather about American culture.

Of the two Miller’s–Give Me Liberty and Sin City–I almost prefer Sin City. Liberty‘s a little overbearing, though the Gibbons art is nice.

Prosser and Janson do a great adaptation of an Andrew Vachss. The Roachmill, Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator entries are all fantastic.

I’m a little peeved Bob the Alien is on the cover but not in the issue.

CREDITS

Give Me Liberty, Martha Washington’s War Diary: April 16, 2012; story by Frank Miller; art by Dave Gibbons. Concrete, Objects of Value; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Aliens; story by John Arcudi; art by Simon Bisley. The American; story by Mark Verheiden; pencils by Dougie Braithwaite; inks by Robert Campanella; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Roachmill; story and art by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney. Placebo; script by Jerry Prosser, based on a story by Andrew Vachss; art by Klaus Janson; lettering by Michael Heisler. Black Cross; story and art by Chris Warner; lettering by Jim Massara. The Aerialist, Part Three; story and art by Matt Wagner; lettering by Kurt Hathaway. Heartbreakers, The Prologue; story by Anina Bennet; art by Paul Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. Aliens vs. Predator; story by Randy Stradley; art by Phill Norwood; lettering by Brosseau. Sin City, Episode One; story and art by Frank Miller. Edited by Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 43 (August 1990)

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Guinan’s Aliens finish is incredibly weak, featuring not just an Alien reference but some guy in the future running around in an Indiana Jones outfit. The plotting is so weak, it might be construed as a spoof… But I think Guinan’s serious. He’s got some very profound-sounding exposition.

Davis does a one page riff on 2001. It’s the best work of his I’ve seen.

Inabinet has a great retelling of a fable. The writing and art are fantastic. But even better is his opening, where he does a bunch of humor in a traditional–very traditional–setting. Inabinet makes the issue, him and that one page Davis strip.

Zick painfully finishes his Argosy story. Apparently, it’s all a setup for a sequel, but hopefully I’ll be spared. Zick somehow manages to find even more characters to introduce in the final installment. Important ones. At least it’s over (for now).

CREDITS

Aliens, Terminus; story and art by Paul Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. The Dawn of Angst; story and art by Gary Davis. The Tale of Yakub and the Vulture; story and art by Sam Inabinet. The Argosy; story and art by Bruce Zick; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.