Comic Picks By The Glick

Dark Horse Previews Picks: June 2020

March 27, 2020

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

Resident Alien Omnibus vol. 1


Dr. Harry Vanderspeigel has a secret:  He’s not actually Dr. Harry Vanderspeigel.  He’s actually an alien who has assumed the retired and reclusive doctor’s identity in an attempt to blend in and bide time before he can be rescued.  It seemed like the perfect plan, until the town’s sole doctor was murdered and “Harry” finds himself embroiled in the investigation at both the request of the police and his own curiosity.


That’s the summary for the original miniseries, with two more being collected here.  Coming from writer Peter Hogan and artist Steve Parkhouse, “Resident Alien” was a low-key delight.  It also hit a very specific nostalgia target for me in that it felt like the kind of high-concept TV series that popped up from time-to-time in the 80’s that would last for a season (maybe two if it was lucky) and attract a small but devoted fanbase because it was quite good.  We’re not living in the 80’s anymore, but we’ll see if that turns out to be true when “Resident Alien” debuts on Syfy later this year. In the meantime, this omnibus will be the perfect way for others to get acquainted with this series, and for me to give vols. 2 & 3 a physical, rather than digital, place on my bookshelf.


47 Ronin:  The adaptation of the classic Japanese story from writer and Dark Horse Publisher Mike Richardson and artist Stan Sakai finally gets a softcover edition.  This is after… *goes to check copy on shelf* six years. Well, I’m glad I didn’t wait for the softcover on this.  The graphic novel itself is still a little underwhelming, especially when you consider that this is one of Sakai’s extremely rare forays into non-”Usagi Yojimbo”-related comics work.  If you have even a little bit of familiarity with the story, then you’ll know exactly what to expect here. It’s a competent retelling, but not a very inspired one.


Barbalien:  Red Planet #1 (of 5):  The “Black Hammer” spinoff train keeps trucking along.  This time we’ve arrived at the first miniseries for a core member of the team, as it finds him dealing with an enemy from his past and the outbreak of the AIDS crisis.  What’s worth mentioning is that this is the first “Black Hammer” miniseries not to be written by series creator Jeff Lemire. He gets a story credit here, while Tate Brombal handles the main writing chores.  His name’s not ringing any bells, which is bad news since I’m going to need more than a change in writers to get me interested in picking up another of these spinoff miniseries. Even one with art from Gabriel Hernandez Walta.


B.P.R.D.:  The Devil You Know HC:  Collects the generally underwhelming three-volume finale of “B.P.R.D.”  If you’ve been holding out to read it in omnibus form, you might as well pick this up since it represents the endpoint of the entire Mignolaverse.  I wouldn’t say it’s a bad ending, just a wholly expected and unsurprising one.  For me, though, it’s hard not to look at this and think of how things would’ve been if regular “B.P.R.D.” writer John Arcudi had stuck around to see the series through to its end.  Or maybe it’s because he couldn’t do anything to change creator Mike Mignola’s planned ending that he decided to (or had to) leave.


Crone:  It’s “Conan!”  But if he was an old woman, and not king!  That’s the idea behind writer Dennis Culver and artist Justin Greenwood’s series.  Which sounds perfectly fine. I mean, Dark Horse has already published Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato’s “Berserker Unbound,” which was basically “Conan, but in Modern Times.”  This series at least has the decency to arrive in softcover first. So if I’m going to read one “Conan” substitute from Dark Horse, I know which one it’ll be.


God of War:  Fallen God #1 (of 4):  The previous “God of War” miniseries from writer Chris Roberson and artist Tony Parker was a prequel to the excellent game from 2018.  This one is also a prequel. It just goes back far enough so that they’re calling it a bridge now. A bridge between “God of War III” and the recent game.  So if you’re wondering how Kratos made it from the lands of Greece after murdering Zeus to the Norse wilds, then they’ve got you covered. I would also imagine that anyone wondering how Kratos met up with Atreus’ mother should also be covered here.  Because if you’re trying to bridge these two games, how could you leave something like THAT out?


Invisible Kingdom #11:  From the solicitation text, “The final arc of the acclaimed series begins…”  Based on the first volume, I can’t say that I’m too disappointed to read this.  I mean, it had all of the ingredients for a thoroughly enjoyable space opera adventure.  It just didn’t quite bring them all together that well. Still, vol. 2 will be arriving… eventually.  It’ll be interesting to see if that stirs any disappointment in me in regards to the upcoming end of this series.


Kill Whitey Donovan:  Anna, a pampered doctor’s daughter, and Hattie, a slave, team up to get revenge on the title character.  Not only is he Hattie’s owner, but he’s also the reason Anna’s sister killed herself. That’s a great setup for a southern-fried revenge story.  I’m interested, even if I’ve got no familiarity with writer Sydney Duncan and artist Natalie Barahona.


Lady Baltimore #1 (of 5):  I thought the ending to “Baltimore” was solid enough.  It wrapped everything up and didn’t leave me wanting for more.  Oh, and the title character was dead. So it’s a little surprising to see co-writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden return to the series after a couple years of nothing.  It does have a decent setup: The focus is now on Sofia Valk, Lord Baltimore’s former comrade-in-arms, who is now hunting down the forces of darkness herself. However, it’s been ten years since the end of the original series and the fires of World War are reigniting and drawing close all the monsters that would profit from it.  I’ve got plenty of time for Mignola’s non-”Mignolaverse” works, of which “Baltimore” was the best. My real hope is that new series artist Bridgit Connell has a style that’s closer to original artist Ben Stenbeck than his successor, Peter Bergting’s.


Predator:  The Original Screenplay #1 (of 5):  Last month I mentioned that writer Jeremy Barlow had a more interesting project lined up for these solicitations.  Well, here it is: An adaptation of “Hunters,” the screenplay from James and John Thomas that eventually became the sci-fi action classic “Predator.”  The solicitation text indicates that the setup from the film remains intact: A team of military specialists arrives in the jungles of Central America on a rescue mission.  Not only do they find that the mission wasn’t the one that was advertised, but there’s also something hunting them in the jungle. It’s anybody’s guess as to what story details will be different, though I’d assume that most of the film’s classic one-liners won’t be in here as they came from uncredited re-writer and cast member Shane Black.


You Look Like Death:  Tales From the Umbrella Academy #1 (of 6):  Hey, an “Umbrella Academy” spinoff series!  With art from “New Deadwardians” and “Wild’s End” artist I.N.J. Culbard.  This is good. And it’s featuring Seance, the drug-addicted team member who can talk to ghosts, living it up in Las Vegas and running afoul of a vampire druglord.  This is promising. Gerard Way is listed as a writer, but as he’s not the sole writer here, so the actual writing is likely to be done by… his co-writer “The Fabulous Killjoys,” Shaun Simon.


...Maybe he’s become a better at this whole writing thing since then?

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