Dark Horse Presents 139 (January 1999)

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It’s a strange Roachmill because it’s very confined—Hedden and McWeeney set it at a public school where Roachmill’s after the school bully. So it’s sort of an all-action story. Dark Horse seems to have included both parts in this issue (there’s a very clear break, with cliffhanger), which is nice. McWeeney’s art is still good though it lacks the vivacious enthusiasm of the early days. The story’s also less about the inappropriate laughs. Maybe because it’s set at a school. Still, it’s a nice piece of work and it’s good to have some more Hedden and McWeeney.

As for Chichester and Barberi’s Saint Slayer? Umm… I don’t get it. Dark Horse had the Buffy license, so why did they print this kung fu Buffy knock-off. It’s an unpleasant read—Chichester’s writing is awful and Barberi’s art isn’t much better. It’s all action… but it plods along. Ick.

CREDITS

Roachmill, School Bully; story by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney; art by McWeeney; lettering by Amie Grenier. Saint Slayer, Last Bus to Pandemonium, Part One; story by Dan Chichester; art by Carlo Barberi; lettering by Clem Robins. Edited by Randy Stradley and Terry Waldron.

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Dark Horse Presents 138 (December 1998)

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Wow, the first Terminator story in Presents. I thought they’d gone through all the licenses, but no. It’s not terrible. Grant’s writing is adequate and Teran’s art has an energy to it. He’s a little confusing in action scenes (Grant’s plotting hurts there too) but he’s got some great designs.

Martin and Rude’s The Moth is just a lot of fun. It borrows some Batman elements and I think Rude does an homage to Spider-Man in one panel. The Moth’s a superhero (maybe) posing as a supervillain and playing mobsters against each other. Rude’s art would make anything good, but Martin’s writing is fine.

Seagle outdoes himself on My Vagabond Days, revealing his protagonist to be not just unlikable, but idiotic. This kid is a complete moron. He’s bringing rocks to Canada because Canada might not have rocks. Maybe Seagle is writing him younger than Gaudino is drawing him….

CREDITS

The Terminator, Suicide Run; story by Alan Grant; art by Frank Teran; lettering by Gary Fields. The Moth; story by Gary Martin; pencils by Steve Rude; inks by Andy Bish; lettering by Willie Schubert. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Charity Rodriguez. Edited by Randy Stradley and Terry Waldron.

Dark Horse Presents 137 (November 1998)

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So Nazis versus Predator and the best Marz can come up with is a story set in South America? Castellini’s art makes up for some of it—even though he can’t draw the Predator, the rest of it looks good. But Marz’s writing is pretty dumb.

Seagle and Gaudiano have another My Vagabond Days, this time about the space program. Sort of. Seagle seems to think doing a lyrical narrative about growing up in the Sixties is inherently interesting. Even with Gaudiano’s artwork, it’s not interesting. Seagle, it turns out, didn’t grow up in the Sixties as a teen… have I already mentioned that fact? Regardless, it’s still a waste of good art.

Randall and Verheiden finally finish The Ark here. It’s yet another double-sized installment and, wow, Verheiden’s writing is really awful here. Randall still manages to turn in some decent work (except on the aliens, they’re boring).

CREDITS

Predator, Demon’s Gold; story by Ron Marz; art by Claudio Castellini; lettering by Gary Kato. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Charity Rodriguez. The Ark, Part Four; story by Mark Verheiden; art by Ron Randall; lettering by Kato. Edited by Randy Stradley and Terry Waldron.

The Invincible Iron Man 500 (March 2011)

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Fraction sets up this issue in two parts–first the present, with Tony tracking down Peter Parker to talk about some designs Tony forgot about, and second the future. In the future, Tony’s kid is fighting the Mandarin, who has taken over the world thanks to Tony’s technology.

Fraction plays the future as full action. There’s no time for a break–and he’s got two artists on it, Kano on some, Fox on the rest. Fox gets the most destruction, probably because his scenes of mass destruction look great.

The present material, with Spidey showing up eventually, is played straight, but with some humor.

Fraction needs to do a Tony and Peter series.

What’s so nice about how the issue works is how it embraces a lot of what Fraction’s done already, but doesn’t tie him down. The future’s not guaranteed (you know, after the next crossover).

It’s great stuff.

CREDITS

The New Iron Age; writer, Matt Fraction; artists, Salvador Larocca, Kano, Nathan Fox and Carmine Di Giandomenico; colorists, Frank D’Armata, Javier Rodriguez and Matthew Wilson; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 136 (October 1998)

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Another endless installment of The Ark. Verheiden’s writing gets really padded here, especially with the conversations. With the long page count–sixteen pages an installment–I wonder if it was intended to be a limited series then someone at Dark Horse realized no one in his or her right mind would buy it. So instead they stuck it in Presents, figuring by the time the reader got to this issue–with The Ark taking up one half and the awful Western (I’ll get to it in a minute) taking up the other–it’d be too late for them to give up. Randall–who I just remembered used to do Trekker–is a fine artist at this point, sort of an almost Paul Gulacy.

As for Smith and Cariello’s Tres Diablos? I tried having an open mind and Cariello’s artwork’s quite good, but Smith is an awful writer.

This issue stinks.

CREDITS

The Ark, Part Three; story by Mark Verheiden; art by Ron Randall; lettering by Gary Kato. Tres Diablos, Spirit of the Badlander; story by Beau Smith; art and lettering by Sergio Cariello. Edited by Randy Stradley, Ben Abernathy and Terry Waldron.

Dark Horse Presents 135 (September 1998)

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Macan and Doherty finish Carson of Venus poorly. Doherty’s artwork this installment is particularly bad and, though Macan seems to be trying, the characters are all weak. Macan’s attempts at humor are a woman getting slapped around by her husband.

So it kind of goes well with Brubaker and Lutes’s finish to The Fall, all about a guy who wants to murder women. It’s a good conclusion, but it needs an epilogue. While I can understand why Brubaker finished without resolution, he still needs it. It doesn’t compare to the first few installments though.

I was excited to see early Reis on The Mark, but he’s not particularly good. He’s not bad, he’s just mundane. Barr tells the whole thing in flashback, which seems like a bad choice, especially for readers unfamiliar with the character.

Verheiden goes on, again, forever with The Ark. At least Randall has some good panels.

CREDITS

Carson of Venus, Part Three; story by Darko Macan; art by Peter Doherty; lettering by Ellie DeVille. The Mark, Bedtime Story; story by Mike W. Barr; pencils by Ivan Reis; inks by Rick Ketcham; lettering by Gary Kato; edited by Ben Abernathy. The Fall, Part Five; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Jason Lutes. The Ark, Part Two; story by Mark Verheiden; art by Ron Randall; lettering by Gary Kato. Edited by Randy Stradley, Jamie S. Rich, Abernathy and Terry Waldron.

Dark Horse Presents Annual 1998 (September 1998)

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The annual opens with Mignola doing a retelling of Hellboy‘s origin. I guess it’s all right. Kind of pointless, but fine.

Weissman finally gets a two page Phineas Page and shows why he should have stuck to a page.

Van Meter and Ross team for the first comic book appearance of Buffy. The writing is more lame than not, but it’s maybe the best Ross art I’ve ever seen.

Watson’s Skeleton Key is a fairly charming little story about a witch and a little kid. I’m assuming the character’s a witch, otherwise it’d be pointless. Some wacky art mistakes though.

The Ark is a long setup with aliens as pay-off. Verheiden’s got some okay writing and Randall’s art isn’t bad.

Guadiano’s art is the primary selling point on he and Seagle’s My Vagabond Days. It’s not terrible though.

Burke and Bolton’s Infirmary is confounding, but Boltan’s art is gorgeous.

CREDITS

Hellboy, The Right Hand of Doom; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Phineas Page, The Bookshelf Phantom; story and art by Steven Weissman. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, MacGuffins; story by Jen Van Meter; pencils by Luke Ross; inks by Rick Ketcham; lettering by Steve Dutro. Skeleton Key, Witch; story and art by Andi Watson. The Ark, Part One; story by Mark Verheiden; art by Ron Randall; lettering by Sean Konot. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; pencils by Stefano Gaudiano; inks by Pia Guerra; lettering by Charity Rodriguez. Infirmary; story by Matthew Burke; art by John Bolton; lettering by Ellie De Ville. Edited by Randy Stradley, Jamie S Rich and Ben Abernathy.

Dark Horse Presents 134 (July 1998)

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Warren finishes up Dirty Pair and I guess it’s good. I mean, it’s a lot of well-drawn action and the jabbering is starting to grow on me. There really isn’t a story though, just scantily clad girls in action scenes. But Warren’s art carries it.

Macan’s writing is sort of better on Carson of Venus and Doherty has a couple good panels. Still, it’s a weak series and it makes me wonder if Dark Horse was just trying every Burroughs license they could get.

The Mask returns to Presents here for the first time in a hundred issues or so. Sibin’s artwork is fantastic so it’s hard to dislike it and Fingerman concentrates on the human protagonist. It doesn’t seem dumb until the very end.

Finally, The Fall. Brubaker introduces the first fantastic element into the narrative and it’s too soon to tell if he can finish it well.

CREDITS

The Dirty Pair, Start the Violence!, Part Three; story and art by Adam Warren; lettering by Tomoko Saito; computer tones by Pat Duke. Carson of Venus, Part Two; story by Darko Macan; art by Peter Doherty; lettering by Ellie DeVille. The Mask, Toys in the Attic, Prequel; story by Bob Fingerman; pencils by Sibin; inks by Bernard Kolle; lettering by Annie Parkhouse; edited by Scott Allie. The Fall, Part Four; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Jason Lutes. Edited by Jamie S. Rich and Ben Abernathy.

Dark Horse Presents 133 (May 1998)

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Starting with The Fall, Brubaker introduces some complications and revelations here. I’ve read it before, but I can’t remember how it ends. This installment implies there might be some very bad things about to happen. Brubaker handles the change in tone well and Lutes’s art is great. He does fantastic night scenes.

Macan and Doherty’s Carson of Venus is pretty lame. Doherty seems like he’s just about ready to be doing profesional work… but not quite yet. And Macan’s writing is lame. He plots slow and his dialogue is terrible.

The Dirty Pair continues to be action-packed and sort of boring. The back and forth between the protagonists is occasionally amusing, but the whole thing feels artificial, like Warren was writing down quippy conversations and inserting them here.

Clugston’s Blue Monday is well-composed, but badly written. Would Dark Horse have published it if it were by a guy?

CREDITS

Carson of Venus, Part One; story by Darko Macan; art by Peter Doherty; lettering by Ellie DeVille. The Fall, Part Three; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Jason Lutes. The Dirty Pair, Start the Violence!, Part Two; story and art by Adam Warren; lettering by Tomoko Saito; computer tones by Pat Duke. Blue Monday; story and art by Chynna Clugston; computer tones by Guy Major and Clugston. Edited by Jamie S. Rich and Ben Abernathy.

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