Dark Horse Presents 24 (November 1988)

And here debuts the licensed property… Aliens. Luckily, it’s a really decent eight pages. Nelson and Verheiden almost make it feel like it’s just a comic book, not a movie tie-in. What’s really interesting is the aliens. Nelson’s able to draw so much fluidity into his own creatures, when he’s got to draw the movie alien, it feels awkward. The shape is defined by being able to be a costume worn by a person, a hampering Nelson doesn’t have with his own creations. Duranona’s Race of Scorpions continues to be unimpressive. Some more Star Wars homage and a lot of … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 24 (November 1988)

Dark Horse Presents 14 (January 1988)

Reading Mr. Monster, I thought a lot about how much I love Will Eisner’s Spirit in black and white. Not because Gilbert’s art in any way reminds of Eisner, but because it doesn’t. Because instead of publishing wonderful black and white comics, Dark Horse Presents is publishing Gilbert’s Mr. Monster and it looks like pencils run through the photocopier to darken it. Art aside, it’s still atrocious. The Concrete story is completely depressing. While visiting his parents’ grave, Concrete contemplates his future. It’s bleak. Chadwick’s art isn’t particularly special here (why is Concrete the one thing he doesn’t draw well), … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 14 (January 1988)

Dark Horse Presents 12 (November 1987)

Okay, The Mask is supposed to be incomprehensible. Badger’s first line in the story is about it being incomprehensible. In a lot of ways, it’s the best continuing serial in Dark Horse Presents so far. I can’t understand it, not with Badger’s art purposely intended to confuse, but at least the writing is ambitious. It’s ambitious in a really, really small way–this issue it’s showing realistic dialogue at a party–but Badger’s definitely trying something. On the other hand, this issue’s Concrete is pretty tired. Chadwick’s showing how lonely it is when you’re stuck in an enormous alien, stone body. He … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 12 (November 1987)

Dark Horse Presents 11 (October 1987)

Is The Mask supposed to be understandable? Badger’s writing seems straightforward enough–two CIA agents are trying to find a Cuban priest who’s in New York City, but his art makes it completely incomprehensible. And it’s hard to imagine how the titular Mask (Masque) is going to figure into the priest’s story. I also can’t figure out if it’s supposed to be pro-Cuba or anti-Cuba. West writes a little history lesson about the Battle of the Somme. Moiseiwitsch’s art is more like etchings and the text is set to them and somewhat related. It’s unsuccessful but not ambitious either. Roma limps … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 11 (October 1987)

Aliens 6 (July 1989)

The whole series collapses here, thanks to Verheiden’s absurd sense of self-importance. In six issues, he destroys the planet Earth. Wait, no, he doesn’t. In one issue he destroys the planet Earth. He didn’t really hint at that plan until this issue either. He uses Newt as a narrator again and it’s just as bad as the previous issue. The problem is with the plot. He’s back in summary mode, but he’s just fitting too much into it–and Newt’s not the right narrator of the events he’s showing. It’s a downbeat conclusion (and not a sequel-ready one, which is almost … Continue reading Aliens 6 (July 1989)

Aliens 5 (June 1989)

Yuck. Verheiden writes the majority of the issue–maybe all of it, I can’t remember, my brain is on strike–from Newt’s perspective. He narrates the issue with her. It’s awful female narration by a male comic book writer. Probably not the worst ever, but it’s hideous. The plotting isn’t bad–though I’m not sure why Hicks is even in the comic anymore. He’s practically a villain at this point. Verheiden never bothered establishing a relationship between Newt and Hicks and it didn’t matter when he was telling the story in summary. But now he’s telling it in scenes and the omission is … Continue reading Aliens 5 (June 1989)

Aliens 4 (April 1989)

Almost the entire issue is told in summary–it’s not bad, actually, since Verheiden is using a layered narrative (he’s gone on to write crappy Superman/Batman comics, hasn’t he? That’s unfortunate). He resolves the whole thing with the aliens on earth, which is both good and bad. It’s nice he was able to resolve it in a quick amount of time (basically last issue and this one), but it’s hurried in an unexpected way. There’s the whole evil corporation angle here (like in the movie), but Verheiden doesn’t spend a lot of time dealing with it in scenes. So this issue, … Continue reading Aliens 4 (April 1989)

Aliens 3 (January 1989)

Has Warren Ellis read this issue? Because it reminds me a lot of his first issue for Ultimate Nightmare. It’s better than that comic, but very similar. Verheiden opens the issue with a bunch of psychological reports of people freaking out because of the alien–just being near it. It’s a cool idea, the aliens driving people crazy; it’s where Aliens is at its strongest… the stuff the movies never had the time or inclination to explore. Unfortunately, the future Verheiden and Nelson come up with isn’t particularly interesting. The Alien movies wisely stayed as mum about earth in the future … Continue reading Aliens 3 (January 1989)

Aliens 2 (September 1988)

The second issue is, generally, fine. Verheiden tries to fit way too much in and his use of Hicks as a narrator is problematic (Hicks is very well-spoken for someone who didn’t talk in the movie much… maybe he just read a lot and kept to himself). The art becomes a bit of an issue, however. Nelson is great at the alien art. He’s great at showing these disgusting nightmare images with the aliens and not having it by revolting. It’s just creepy and gross and he does it very well. It’s a shame he doesn’t draw human figures particularly … Continue reading Aliens 2 (September 1988)

Aliens 1 (May 1988)

Here’s why I trust Dark Horse on licensed properties. It’s a misplaced trust, I’ve learned as I’ve gone back to read their comics as an adult, but Aliens still holds up. It’s an earnest attempt to make a sequel to the movie, but it also adapts for the comic form. There are dream sequences and flashbacks–stuff a movie wouldn’t have been able to show seriously. As far as the writing, Verheiden does a good job. He reintroduces Newt and Hicks from the movie, puts them both in terrible situations, and then brings the aliens back in. The characters are dysfunctional … Continue reading Aliens 1 (May 1988)