The state of Dark Horse’s manga publishing efforts has been an ongoing concern of mine over the years as we’ve seen a steady decline in the amount of manga they’ve released as well as a complete lack of new titles that aren’t from established authors, or don’t have a significant media tie-in. There’s also the fact that three of their longest-running titles are now coming to an end. “Blade of the Immortal” wrapped up in Japan last year as did “Gantz.” Then, last week, I got a huge shock as it was announced that “Oh My Goddess!” is reaching its conclusion after over 25 years. This is shocking because I was certain that mangaka Kosuke Fujishima would be working on this until the day he died, given that the title had ran for so long already. Well, that and the fact that if he couldn’t be bothered to stop working on it after achieving creative bankruptcy then nothing was going to stop him. Even so, I have to admit a certain morbid curiosity to start picking it up again to see how it all ends.
Assuming it is the end, that is. Anime News Network’s article also mentions that a “special announcement” is planned regarding the title for June. I’m guessing that it means one of two things: either an announcement that a new anime series covering the rest of the manga will be starting up, or that we’ll be getting “New Oh My Goddess!” later this year. My cynical side is leaning towards the latter scenario. If that’s not the case, then this is effectively another nail in the coffin of Dark Horse as an active publisher of manga. I’m still convinced that in a couple years we’ll see their manga publishing division reduced to nothing more than managing and repackaging their substantial backlist.
Unless “New Lone Wolf and Cub” hits big. As in, big enough to get the company to start bringing over more work from Kazuo Koike, like his remaining collaborations with original “Lone Wolf” artist Goseki Kojima. The first volume is due in June, so we’ll have some indication if that’ll happen then.
A Second Chance at Sarah HC: John’s wife Sarah is dying and he’ll do anything to save her. That includes making a deal with a demon to travel back in time to the point where her fate was sealed in order to avert it. It’s not the most original premise in the world, so what makes this 96-page hardcover worth a look? The fact that it’s written by Neil Druckmann, the creative director of “The Last of Us.” That was my “game of the year” for 2013 and solidified the man as a talent to watch out for in future projects. As this is one of them, the decision to buy it becomes an easy choice.
Blood Blockade Battlefront vol. 6: I’m less interested in whatever passes for a story in this volume than seeing how Abe Sapien is adjusting to joining the Libra team. I realize that this is simply an act of active homage on the part of mangaka Yasuhiro Nightow as the man has an acknowledged love of American superhero comics that he likes to give nods to in his work. The guy on the cover? That’s his take on Venom. Now if only I could get as excited about the story as I am about these “homages”...
The Complete ElfQuest vol. 1: The Original Quest: FINALLY! More for the fact that it shows us that Dark Horse is serious about reprinting the series. Best of all is that this massive 720-page collection, in its original black & white, reprints the entire “Original Quest” storyline. Though I’ve liked a good deal of the comics that followed it, I always felt that the story told in the issues collected here was the best. It was an epic self-contained tale that had lots of memorable characters, entertaining twists, and a real sense of adventure. This may go without saying by now, but this is the volume to get if you’ve ever wondered what the big deal about “ElfQuest” was.
Eye of Newt #1 (of 4): This miniseries about an apprentice wizard embarking on a perilous quest was advertised as coming from “LEGENDARY ILLUSTRATOR MICHAEL HAGUE!” Not having any idea who this illustrator was, I decided to look him up… Only to find that he does have a pretty impressive resume. Maybe this will be worth a look.
The Goon: One For the Road: A one-off where the title character and his buddy Franky meet a sailor, go to a bar, and embark on a “genre-hopping pursuit.” I’m always up for more “Goon,” though I wonder that since this issue isn’t numbered as part of the ongoing series, is the title moving towards a series of one-shots and miniseries? I don’t think that would be much of an issue if creator Eric Powell is going to keep writing and drawing everything. Hey, it’s an approach that has worked for “Hellboy” and “B.P.R.D.” in the past. In all honesty, I’m not that concerned with whatever approach Powell takes with his signature series. I just want more “Goon!”
The Ring of the Nibelung HC: P. Craig Russell adapts Richard Wagner’s opera to startling good effect based on the reviews I read when I Googled this work. It’s also a good value for your money as you get 448 full-color pages for $30. I’ve liked Russel’s work over the years and my lack of knowledge about this only makes it seem more appealing.
Star Wars Legacy vol. 2 (Book III): Wanted -- Ania Solo: Currently, “Book II” is solicited for a June release from Amazon and issue #16 is solicited here. With the “Star Wars” license reverting to Marvel after this year, I wonder if we’ll be seeing this title wrapped up with #20 in November and a final collected edition following shortly thereafter. We shall see.
Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland #1 (of 5): I’m always up for more adventures of Edward Grey after his escapades in the first two volumes. After all, Mike Mignola has done a good job with the character and -- wait! He’s not writing this volume!? It’s being written by two people I’ve never heard of: Kim Newman and Maura McHugh. This is… well, if they’re Mignola-approved then I can’t complain too much. After all, he did all right by bringing John Arcudi onboard “B.P.R.D.” all those years ago and this is going to be illustrated by Tyler Crook who has proved his worth on that title too. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how this pans out in the collected edition.