Mike Richardson, publisher of Dark Horse Comics, went on record to Comic Book Resources about how the company’s sales have been going up over the last few years. Which is good because an industry without Dark Horse is a lesser one for that. While he shrugs off the loss of the “Star Wars” license (as well he should), but 2015 will be the first year the company hasn’t had the benefit of that to boost their marketshare. If they can post growth for this year, then Richardson will really have something to rub in his rivals’ faces.
Abe Sapien #28: The first of a two-parter promising lots of revelations. I should certainly hope so! Anything to get some momentum and urgency for this series. No, I wasn’t all that impressed by the latest volume either. Why do you ask?
Baltimore vol. 6: The Cult of the Red King: With the party-building phase of Lord Baltimore’s quest against the Red King over, it’s time to take the fight back to the title character himself. Given that this is called “The Cult of the Red King,” I have a pretty good idea about what he’s going to find. Still, the thing I’m most interested in seeing in this volume is if new artist Peter Bergting meshes any better with Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s writing this time out. While the art itself was fine, there was a certain awkwardness with how it meshed together alongside the dialogue in the previous volume. It only became more apparent when compared against the work from Ben Stenbeck in the same volume. Mignola has a track record for picking good artists to work with, so hopefully things will come together better here.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III #1 (of 6): Haven’t played a “CoD” game since “Modern Warfare 2,” but I have to commend Dark Horse on their choice of writer for this tie-in prequel to the game. That would be longtime “G.I. Joe” writer (still going strong on “A Real American Hero” at IDW) Larry Hama. I have to imagine that he won’t have to adjust his style much in writing for a gung-ho military franchise like “CoD,” even if the results are bound to be a bit less colorful than his work on “G.I. Joe.” However, I’ve heard enough good things about Hama’s work on that series over the years that I finally bought two volumes of “Classic G.I. Joe” at Comic-Con. I have yet to read them, but if they’re as good as their reputation then I’ll probably be on the lookout for more at future conventions.
Empowered Special: PEW! PEW! PEW!: Why yes, this is an issue about laser guns. Bigger and badder ones wielded by a bunch of rage-fueled supervillains. Were I a betting man, I’d say you should expect this series to talk about the need for guys to show off their metaphorical manhood by making sure that their own gun is bigger than the other guys’. Coming from Adam Warren, it’s sure to be entertaining along the lines of the previous “Empowered” specials. Also, with the precedent established by “Empowered Unchained” there are only five more specials to go before they’re collected into another volume. Can’t wait!
Joe Golem: Occult Detective #1 (of 5): Before it was a comic, “Baltimore” was an illustrated novel from Mignola and Golden. In the same vein is this new series that has the title character (who is a golem) investigating a series of child kidnappings in a Manhattan that was left submerged in a disaster forty years ago. The concept itself is certainly intriguing, but the real draw is seeing if Mignola and Golden can get lightning to strike twice after their stellar work on “Baltimore.” It’s illustrated by Patric Reynolds, who did an “Abe Sapien” story back in the day and has a sketchy style that should be interesting to see applied to this strange world.
Kingsway West #1 (of 4): From writer Greg Pak and artist Mirko Colak comes the story of a Chinese gunslinger, released from prison after thirteen years. All he wants to do is find his wife, but this version of the old west is filled with magic, monsters, and a woman with a magic sword who needs his help. I’ll admit that the description sounds fun, while Pak and Colak are creators who have done solid work for Marvel and DC in the past. Probably worth keeping an eye out for.
Mind MGMT vol. 6: The Immortals: It’s been a weird, rocky road to get to this point (with my thoughts on vol. 5 coming later this week), but we’ve finally reached the end of this series. Even if the story beats for “Mind MGMT” have been somewhat conventional, the execution has been anything but. It’s been truly impressive to see the ways that creator Matt Kindt has been experimenting with the form of comics over the series and I’m willing to bet that he has some more surprises in that area waiting for us here. Granted, it would’ve been nice if he had been able to craft a more engaging first volume, but I have to admit that I’m impressed with how he has made it retroactively more interesting since then. Don’t expect to see this on my “Best of” list for 2015, however, as this final volume is advance-solicited for January.
Usagi Yojimbo #150: Mind you, that’s 150 issues just at Dark Horse. Add in the ones at Fantagraphics and Mirage, and Stan Sakai has done over 200 issues about the adventures of the rabbit ronin. In all of those, however, there is one thing that he has never done: Have Usagi meet up with a foreign swordsman. If the solicitation text is anything to go by, this foreigner not only has some skill, but is a real dick as well. Not only does he want to see a ritual suicide, he chooses the tea master of Usagi’s friend and comrade Tomoe as the victim. I’m sure things will turn out all right in the end, as they usually do in this series. Except, you know, in the times that they don’t.