Comic Picks By The Glick

Dark Horse Previews Picks: April 2014

January 24, 2014

Unfortunately the biggest news about the company in the last month is still the revelation that “Star Wars” will be headed to Marvel next year.  I’d like to think that Publisher Mike Richardson and the rest of his team have been preparing for this inevitability and have found ways to shore up revenue or are looking into new titles to replace it.  Along the lines of the former school of thought, they still have yet to announce any plans for reprinting the vast library of “Elfquest” comics that have been published over the years.  I know that they won’t come close to filling the void we’re talking about, but it’s a start.

Also, I’d REALLY like to add what comes after the volumes DC published to my personal library as well.  So there’s that.

Baltimore vol. 4:  Chapel of Bones HC:  Talk about starting things on a high note.  This volume collects two miniseries:  “The Infernal Train” and “Chapel of Bones.”  As I understand it, the former involves Baltimore taking on witches aboard the titular train while the latter involves a (final?) showdown with his vampire nemesis.  Yes, the extra cost involved in picking this up in hardcover hurts, yet this title is worth it.

Conan the Avenger #1:  So writer Fred Van Lente’s “Conan” series has a name and it’s… underwhelming.  The subtitles for previous volumes “The Cimmerian” and “The Barbarian” both make sense (and have been used before), but “Avenger?”  Exactly what is he avenging?  Or is this a stealth crossover with Marvel now?  Title aside, I’ve liked what I’ve read from Van Lente in the past so I’ll be onboard for this too.  Also, this new series features art from Brian Ching.  Even if he’s not a household name, the man has done some great work on the “Star Wars:  Clone Wars” and “Knights of the Old Republic” titles.  It’s good to see him back on a monthly title and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what he does with Conan.

Dragon Age:  Library Edition vol. 1:  Dark Horse has published three hardcover novellas in the universe of Bioware’s fantasy RPG setting.  I’ve passed them all up because I’m not familiar with the creators and the price/page count ratio didn’t make the proposition any more appealing.  Now they’re putting all three in one volume, and I find myself a little curious about them.  Particularly the fact that they’re supposed to represent a “trilogy” of sorts.  It’s $40 for 232 pages, and that’s not the best value I’ve seen but maybe if I find it on sale at a convention.

The Eltingville Club #1:  Evan Dorkin’s on-and-off series about three gamers whose arguments always end in bloodshed finds another home at Dark Horse.  I’ve heard good things about this acidicly funny series over the years and was prompted to check on Amazon for a collected edition of their exploits.  Sadly, such a volume does not exist.  I can only hope that this will be rectified sometime in the near future.

EVE Online:  True Stories HC:  Back when the “Penny Arcade Report” was operational, I liked reading their coverage of the massively multiplayer online mining/space combat/sociological experiment that is EVE Online.  Of particular interest were the stories that the players generated through their exploits in the game.  That’s what this volume is advertised as telling:  The stranger-than-fiction story of how one man brought an end to the largest conflict yet seen in the game.  I think this sounds like a fascinating story to tell, but I’m wondering how they’re going to tell it.  Daniel Way, writer of “Wolverine:  Origins” and “Deadpool,” is scripting things here and there’s no indication how the story is going to be told.  Is it going to be a documentary-style approach that shows us the conflict from all sides, complete with player chat logs and whatnot?  Or are we getting the story as if it were a narrative taking place in the world of the game itself?  I really hope it’s the former, and will make an effort to find out what the case is before I plunk down my money for this.

Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City HC, The Art of Sin City HC, Sin City:  A Dame To Kill For HC:  So much “Sin City.”  You’d think they have a movie to promote or something. *rimshot*  Anyway, the short version is that “Sin City” is the purest shot of Frank Miller you can get, and the last good thing he did before his downward slide kicked off with “The Dark Knight Returns.”  The omnibus is $100 for over 1300 pages of comics, which is a fantastic deal by any standard.  However, if you don’t want the whole thing and just want the one they’re adapting for the movie, then the “A Dame To Kill For” -- easily the best story in the series -- will set you back $25 for 232 pages.  There’s also the artbook, which has no stories as far as I can tell and is therefore not interesting to me.

The Massive vol. 3:  Longship:  This series gets a third chance to finally live up to its potential.  Inside, the crew matches wits with a former comrade threatening nuclear war, a rogue faction of the U.S. Navy, and a group of Norwegian whalers.  That first part sounds the most interesting since it looks like they’re picking up on a plot thread from the previous volume.  We won’t find out until June as to whether or not this will be the volume that finally brings it all together, but I think I can stand the wait until then.

Neon Genesis Evangelion:  The Shinji Ikari Raising Project vol. 14:  Just suck less this time, okay?  It’d be a pain to read something so bad that it has me go back and re-read the entire series to determine which volumes get sent to BookOff and which ones stay on my shelf.

New Lone Wolf and Cub vol. 1:  This comes to us from the realm of “sequels we didn’t really need.”  At least, that’s what I thought when I heard that Kazuo Koike was doing a follow-up to his most famous series, and best collaboration with artist Goseki Kojima.  Unfortunately, Kojima died back in the mid-90’s and new artist Hideki Mori is illustrating things now.  Despite my reservations, I’ve yet to read one of Koike’s long-form series that I haven’t liked as the man knows how to craft interesting stories regardless of the subject.  Even when that subject is a man taking revenge against God’s Pornographic X-Rated Films for the death of his true love in “Wounded Man.”  That title was a special kind of crazy that we’re not likely to see here.  I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, though I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that I will be buying this first volume just to see what it’s like.

Star Wars:  Dawn of the Jedi vol. 3 -- Force War:  Not just the end of the “Dawn of the Jedi” series, but this is likely the last “Star Wars” series we’ll read from John Ostrander and Jan Duursema.  The writer and artist were responsible for the creation of amnesiac Jedi Quinlan Vos, the best stories (which also featured the character) in the “Clone Wars” comics, and “Legacy.”  Even if their work tends to be heavy on the melodrama and more than a little overwrought at times, they’ve told some of the most compelling stories in the Expanded Universe and were the best comics team on the franchise while it was at Dark Horse.  It’s certainly possible that someone could top them when Marvel starts producing their comics, but it’s going to be an uphill battle for a long while at least.

Star Wars:  Rebel Heist #1 (of 4):  Before the franchise leaves, however, we’ve got other little projects like this to look forward to.  Matt Kindt writes this story set during the movies which involves a young rebel being teamed up with Han Solo, only to find out that the pilot’s myth is much more appealing than the reality.  I can only imagine that there will be some kind of heist involved as well.  It being in the title and all.  Given that I’m most familiar with Kindt through his work on “Mind MGMT,” I can’t say that I’m particularly excited about seeing him here.  Still, maybe seeing him work on something that isn’t a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside of a conundrum will prove to be more straightforwardly entertaining.

Jason Glick

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