Dark Horse Presents 2 (September 1986)

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Wow, does Chadwick ever try hard to be cute. His Concrete story this issue is a completely useless, inconsequential diversion… Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe it’s supposed to be charming, but it just seems like he wastes a lot of energy. The art’s okay, Concrete being a really boring looking character but the desert setting is fine.

I certainly wish Chadwick was on Mindwalk, just because Emberlin is so weak. He’s got the occasionally well-designed panel, but the art tends to be broad or ugly. The broad stuff is fine, it just doesn’t look like he put in work. The ugly stuff… well, he put in work to no good effect. The script’s goofy in an annoying way.

Thankfully, DeMatteis and Badger’s Hellwalk, Inc. is fantastic. It’s this romantically involved detective couple who handle occult cases. DeMatteis grounds it in depressing and hopeful reality. A very nice closer.

CREDITS

Concrete, Under the Desert Stars; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Mindwalk, Crystal Vision; writer, Randy Stradley; art by Randy Emberlin; letterer, John Workman. Hellwalk, Inc., Cortege; writer, J.M. DeMatteis; artist and letterer, Mark Badger. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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Dark Horse Presents 1 (July 1986)

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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 a mutant (lots of superpowers this issue). But the art’s gorgeous and makes up for the lukewarm writing.

Stradley’s Mindwalk is about another mutant (one with a kind of telepathy). It’s nearly okay, though Emberlin’s art isn’t quite there. Features Nazis and gangsters though.

I wasn’t expecting so many mutants.

CREDITS

Black Cross; writer and artist, Chris Warner; letterer, John Workman. Concrete, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Mindwalk; writer, Randy Stradley; artist, Randy Emberlin; letterer, John Workman. Brighter!; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Sixth Gun 6 (November 2010)

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Almost the entire issue is horizontal, meaning the pages are read across. It must have been a lot of work for Hurtt, but it’s done to excellent effect. The issue is another all action issue, but it’s this huge, layered battle scene. There’s an epilogue to it (The Sixth Gun, I believe, was initially a limited series ending here and so the epilogue makes sense as a teaser for what could come next). The epilogue is on regular, vertical pages.

What’s so good about the issue isn’t particularly the battle–though Bunn does plot it rather well. The ending is unexpected and there are some really nice smaller sequences, like Becky going up against Mrs. Hume.

But what’s best about it is how much Bunn infers instead of explains. The Sixth Gun‘s lack of overall exposition should be the standard, not the exception.

It’s a fantastic finish, better than expected.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, colorist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; editors, Charlie Chu and James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 5 (October 2010)

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Okay, it’s Drake, Becky and Billjohn. Can’t believe I forgot Billjohn.

No real action this issue, not even during the last quarter, which means Bunn wasn’t establishing it as an regular formula the first few issues, it’s just how he played them.

Or maybe this issue, with General Hume raising a graveyard of zombies to attack our heroes, didn’t need the tension raised.

We get a lot of backstory this issue, including some backstory on new characters. Bunn introduces a new character–a black insurgent (I can never figure good terms for these things) who fought the Confederacy. I hate to be obvious, but it’s like Lando Calrissian shows up or something. And we get backstory on him. More than we’ve gotten on Drake–we’re hearing a lot more about him being a somewhat evil man, but it’s not a clear definition.

Bunn’s giving Sixth Gun a lot of depth.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, colorist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; editors, Charlie Chu and James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 4 (September 2010)

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The girl’s name is Becky. It’s mentioned twice this issue, so maybe I’m not the only one who was confused.

This issue is Bunn’s take an all action issue. There’s the main event, the bad guys against this huge, electrically charge bird monster. But Drake and his sidekick–who definitely has a name, but I’m not aware of it–have to get to the fight, which brings in some backstory. And then there’s the girl–sorry, Becky–getting to the fight too.

Some great artwork here. Hurtt’s not a guy you really except to do heart-stopping visuals–I love him, but he doesn’t tend to do the stupendous visuals. Well, except here, of course–he’s got this panel of the giant bird monster’s wings peeking out of a canyon and it’s just incredible.

The series just keeps getting better.

Bunn’s inventiveness in a presumably tried genre is constant pleasure.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, colorist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; editors, Charlie Chu and James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 3 (August 2010)

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A couple things.

First, the girl doesn’t have a name yet. They would have mentioned it this issue.

Second, Bunn’s pacing. He does the same thing this issue–dense first three-quarters, fast ending. It might just be accelerating to raise tension for a cliffhanger, but in this issue, I was surprised where they finished. It felt like it needed one more page of explanation.

Hurtt’s got some really lovely panels this issue, very little ones in some cases. He uses a lot of sound effects titles here, beautifully rendered. The book would be worth picking up regardless of story.

Speaking of story, Bunn’s plot improves here. Well, maybe it doesn’t improve so much as not do the obvious, bad things I was dreading. The series has a particular pace–Bunn is taking his time with revelations, so they all need to be worth it.

Lovely Monument Valley sequence too.

It’s excellent work.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, colorist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

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