Predator 4 (March 1990)

Street gangs versus the Predators. It’s actually a good battle scene. It takes up a good third of the issue; Verheiden definitely comes up with exiting visuals for the artists to realize. The comic’s pretty lame though. Verheiden front loaded it with characters who disappear–the black police captain shows up again here; why’s he memorable? He’s black. It’s lazy writing and unbelievable. The narration from the family man cop is pretty dang good though. Verheiden never gets into Schaefer’s head this issue and it works out. The family man has a lot better observations about the situation, far more emotionally … Continue reading Predator 4 (March 1990)

Predator 3 (November 1989)

So Schaefer gets kidnapped by a drug lord and has to break out. Meanwhile his partner is trying to let everyone know there’s an alien invasion coming. Lots of warships cloaked in Manhattan, you know… the norm. Occasionally Verheiden will give Warner some awesome scene to draw–the Pam Am building being a meeting place for the aliens and the military–but a lot of the comic is the South American stuff. It’s a bridging issue is all and a four issue series shouldn’t need one. Especially not since Verheiden contrives the whole thing with the drug lords. It would have been … Continue reading Predator 3 (November 1989)

Predator 2 (September/October 1989)

So even though this Predator takes place in New York, Verheiden thinks it’s got room to go down to the jungle from the first movie. Oddly, it does. Oh, and I think he must have referred to the general by name in the last one because it’s all over the place here. But, yeah, the pacing. Verheiden pretty much just skips between the two partners, with the family man cop’s narration being a lot more thoughtful. The Schaefer–that’s Arnie’s character’s brother–narration is more forced. Verheiden knows he needs some kind of exposition, goes with it. There’s some neat time lapses … Continue reading Predator 2 (September/October 1989)

Predator 1 (June 1989)

Cops, gangs and a Predator… sounds like a movie. Oh, wait, it was a movie. Only Mark Verheiden’s Predator came before Predator 2, probably when they thought Schwarzenegger would play his own brother. But Verheiden sets the story in New York, narrated by a tired detective with a crazy huge partner (the brother of Schwarzenegger’s character from the first movie). They investigate this weird gang war, which has the general from the movie hanging around (oddly unnamed so far), and get into it with their boss. It feels a little like Robocop in terms of urban dystopia, but Verheiden does … Continue reading Predator 1 (June 1989)

Dark Horse Presents 156 (August 2000)

Well, Gray inking Sook on Witch’s Son—at least at this stage of Sook’s career—produces a far better result than Sook inking himself. It still looks very Mignola, but there’s a lot more fluidity to the characters. As for Allie’s script? It’s competent in terms of dialogue, but the content is fairly weak. Witches, demons, yada yada yada. Warner and Brunner—Brunner can draw (he’s a terrible writer though, good thing Warner’s here… sort of)—do a story about a hit man who dresses like a clown. Even drives a little car. It’s not bad, it’s not good. It passes the pages pretty … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 156 (August 2000)

Dark Horse Presents 100 4 (August 1995)

I guess Dave Gibbons had no quibbles about Frank Miller ripping off Watchmen for their Martha Washington story this issue. Nice art, bad writing. Forney’s got an anecdote about meeting Tom Waits. It has some charm, but not enough to sustain it. Then Geary’s back with a one page strip, as are Pekar and Sacco. They’re both harmless (but thank goodness they’re short). Warner brings in a Black Cross piece. His writing has gotten a little better in terms of dialogue in the hundred issues since he introduced the character. The story’s useless though. Art’s not terrible, not good. Sendelbach’s … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 100 4 (August 1995)

Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special (April 1991)

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 … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special (April 1991)

Dark Horse Presents 47 (January 1991)

If it weren’t for a one page Rich Rice cartoon of an apologetic Godzilla, this issue would be really scraping bottom. Okay, not exactly true. Buniak’s got a beautifully illustrated jungle adventure featuring Tarzan and Kong stand ins. Lovely ink washes. The story’s not strong, but the art’s the point. Otherwise, it’s a weak one. The art from the Trumans is pretty good. While the plot has a solid finish, their writing is disastrous. The first person narration is… Ugh. Wolfer and Warner have some future story about an earth invaded by alien dinosaurs and the Japanese building humans battle … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 47 (January 1991)

Dark Horse Presents 28 (March 1989)

The Concrete story goes on forever. It has some of Chadwick’s better art in a while, but also some Liefeldian body mechanics. It’s metaphysical nonsense about the environment. These Concrete stories are best as time capsules–things haven’t gotten any better in the last twenty years. Zone debuts this issue; Kraiger’s illustrating is fine. The story’s harmless and uninteresting. It seems like it’s going to follow in Concrete‘s footsteps in terms of passivity. Hedden and McWeeney do a wordless Roachmill. Great art, mildly amusing story. The art’s what’s important here. Gilbert and Beatty do a Mr. Monster story all about EC … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 28 (March 1989)

Dark Horse Presents 20 (August 1988)

This issue is a sixty-four page giant–only most of the extra is filler. They could have gotten away with a lot less pages. The Mr. Monster story is real short (and lame). Gary Davis has a short space alien story showing he’s read some Arthur C. Clarke (it’s long, wordless filler). Rick Geary’s got a nice two page story, which is filler but really excellent filler. Then there’s the start of a Trekker serial. It’s incomprehensible if you haven’t read the Trekker series and probably even if you have. Doug Potter has an excellent story about homelessness. Oh, I missed … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 20 (August 1988)

Dark Horse Presents 3 (November 1986)

Yay, Warner’s back with Black Cross–featuring a bunch of expository dialogue recapping the first story. With all that useless exposition, one might think Warner would explain the ground situation to the reader. But he doesn’t. It’s confusing and a lot of work thinking about something so dumb sounding. Stradley and Emberlin’s Mindwalk has its weakest entry so far, with Stradley inexplicably using two narrators here. A mediocre first person narrator is one thing, but then he brings in a female narrator who sounds like a six-year-old. Emberlin’s art is similarly problematic, though he draws Kirby-esque monsters well. The Concrete story … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 3 (November 1986)

Dark Horse Presents 1 (July 1986)

You know, I really didn’t expect Dark Horse Presents to open its first issue with a male overcompensation piece like Black Cross. Warner’s art’s amateurish and I guess it shows movie optioning is a comic book tradition (the character looks like Sylvester Stallone). It’s a dismal story. Chadwick’s two contributions are all right. The Concrete one is charming and at least hints at some kind of social consciousness for the comic (which Black Cross feigns). More impressive, as far as the art goes, is Brighter!, a Vertigo ready story about some young woman who can produce optical illusions. So she’s … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 1 (July 1986)

Aliens vs. Predator 4 (December 1990)

It’s a weak close, partially because Stradley probably needed another issue to fully develop the relationship between the protagonist and the friendly Predator (he also needed space to give it a proper ending), but mostly because Chris Warner is no replacement for Norwood. Warner kills that beautiful design sense Norwood brings to the book. Instead of the panels being so well-composed it can distract from the narrative, they’re rote. Aliens vs. Predator, between Warner and Campanella, becomes a boring movie tie-in. Norwood made it special. Even with the action pacing and the lack of narration, Stradley’s able to keep his … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator 4 (December 1990)