Dark Horse has partnered up with Nintendo to release several of their gaming art and sourcebooks, including the mega-selling “Hyrule Historia.” One has to wonder when they’re going to take their relationship to the next level and start giving us comics based on these properties. We have an answer now and it is “Fall 2018” as Dark Horse has announced that they’ll be doing a series of graphic novels based on “ARMS,” the fighting game about characters with springs for arms which debuted on the Switch earlier this year.
Now, it’s not the “Metroid” miniseries that retcons “Other M” that I was hoping for, but it’s a start. It’s also telling that “ARMS” is the first property Nintendo is letting Dark Horse take a crack at too. This is a brand new IP that the company clearly hopes it can build up into a major franchise -- maybe not into a “Mario” or “Zelda,” but “Splatoon” is the clearest analogue here -- and there’s more room for them to experiment here as a result. Plus, if the graphic novel is terrible then it’ll just be weighing down a less important franchise as opposed to a big one. However, if the graphic novel is successful, something that’s more likely considering Dark Horse’s track record with licensed work, then it may just be that first stepping stone to getting that “Metroid” miniseries. Or, more likely, “Zelda” and “Mario” miniseries.
Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible vol. 2 HC/Blood Blockade Battlefront vol. 9: I’m putting these two together because the solicitation for “BBB” mentions that the main story will involve Zed O’Brien looking for a moonlighting gig to help defray the support costs of his survival gear. Naturally, things get complicated and the rest of the Libra team is going to wind up being involved. Now, Zed’s visual design is an homage to pre-”Dark and Terrible” Abe Sapien. The latest hardcover collection of that character’s solo series also wraps it up in expectedly underwhelming fashion. What I’m getting at here is that even though both titles are extremely different and won’t appeal to each other’s fans, I’d much rather read “BBB” if I was hoping to find an entertaining story featuring a character who looked like Abe.
Cell Block Earth and Other Stories: This is a collection of short stories from co-writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. What’s interesting about it is that the title story hasn’t been published elsewhere. The other stories in this collection, “Wrestling with Demons” and “The Deep Sea” were originally published in “Dark Horse Presents.” Given that there have been some very slim collections of short stories from that anthology, I’d guess that “Cell Block Earth” was commissioned and then completed before “DHP” was cancelled (again). So this is a nice way to provide some added value to the collection as I’m sure fans of Palmiotti and Gray will like to get their hands on a “never before published story” from them.
Hungry Ghosts #1 (of 5): A new miniseries from the Berger Books imprint from co-writers Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose who previously gave us the I-hoped-it-was-going-to-be-better-than-it-was “Get Jiro!” graphic novel (I know there were two, but I only read the first one). This time out they’re delivering an anthology series as a Russian oligarch challenges a group of international chefs to the game of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai where a hundred candles are lit and subsequently extinguished one-by-one after a scary story is told. First up are tales involving a ramen chef who refuses to help a beggar and some pirates who have a difficult encounter with a drowning woman. Unless this miniseries turns out to be phenomenally successful don’t expect a hundred stories to be told here. Still, it does look to be a nice fit with the company given its preference towards horror, anthologies, and horror anthologies.
Koshchei the Deathless #1 (of 6): New from Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck. The character made his Mignolaverse debut in the pages of “Hellboy: The Wild Hunt.” Now we get to see every sordid detail of his history that eventually led him to Hell. Where he’ll meet Hellboy. No, really. It’s stated in the solicitation text. While Mignola/Stenbeck collaborations have resulted in some of the better Mignolaverse works (as well as the best parts of “Baltimore”), it’s also interesting to see the writer return to “Hellboy in Hell” after that title’s conclusion. I don’t think he’ll be elaborating on what was done there too much, but I’m curious about it nonetheless.
The Paybacks: Now this is interesting. Dark Horse published several early works from writer Donny Cates before he hit it big with “God Country,” with artist Geoff Shaw. Since then, Cates has worked to re-publish some of these works, “Buzzkill” and “Ghost Fleet,” through Image. “The Paybacks” is an interesting case because Cates mentioned that Dark Horse returned the title’s copyright to him, allowing the writer and artist to take it to Heavy Metal and publish a new volume through them. Now, not only is Dark Horse re-publishing the original series, but this collection also includes the issues published by Heavy Metal as well. Funny how things in this industry can work out sometime. Anyhow, the series is about superhuman repo men and the first minseries was pretty fun (I read it digitally). I had wondered if the subsequent miniseries would ever be collected and now I have my answer.