Tag Archive: Dark Horse Comics


Francavilla Archie vs Predator 1 cover   Eric Powell cover 1 Archie vs Predator

If you haven’t checked in with the 73-year-old perpetual teenager Archie Andrews in a while, well, you need to get caught up.  If you don’t remember reading his comics as a kid, just think Happy Days for a minute.  Archie is Richie Cunningham, the do-gooder who is popular with his friends.  The suave Reggie Mantle is a ringer for Potsy Webber, and Ralph Malph is basically Jughead Jones.  You could drop these guys in any school cafeteria in any decade since Archie was created back in 1941 and the words may be different but the conversations would be familiar.  It’s each writer after writer over the years maintaining that accessibility to readers that keeps Archie fresh.  With crossover deals with rights holders and publishers today, that means Archie gets to meet other property icons.  Like the rock group KISS in Archie meets KISS, the Punisher in Archie Meets Punisher, or the kids from the TV show Glee in Archie Meets Glee.  Next week, Archie goes sci-fi.  Instead of a “meet” with the skull collecting alien from the Predator franchise, Dark Horse Comics and Archie Comics are releasing a four-issue series, Archie vs. Predator.

Taking Archie comics first into dark territory, and back into the hands of thousands of new readers, was the 2013 series Afterlife with Archie, a zombie story by Archie Comics’ now Chief Creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and art by Francesco Francavilla (which we’ve raved about before plenty here at borg.com).  But where Afterlife with Archie re-dresses the setting of Riverdale in a bleak zombie apocalypse, artist Fernando Ruiz has drawn Archie vs. Predator firmly in the more cartoony, more familiar Riverdale.  And it’s that contrast between the classic cartoony and the shocking, and the outright bloody, where writer Alex de Campi takes Archie and friends into a completely new realm.  Like the meet-ups at Big Al’s with the Happy Days kids, de Campi presents some current and believable banter between Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and two new rich kids as they head South of the border for Spring Break.  And don’t be surprised if the quirks and angst of the Riverdale kid remind you of the characters on the classic animated series Daria, but with a Scooby Doo and Buffy the Vampire Slayer twist.

Archie vs Predator banner

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abrams-star-wars-comics

Review by C.J. Bunce

With three new Star Wars comic book series beginning this year as the license returns to Marvel Comics, we’re taking a look at the second book in Abrams Books’ series of hardcover art house books on the franchise, Star Wars Art: Comics.  From the series that also brought us Star Wars Art: Posters, Star Wars Art: Concept, Star Wars Art: Illustration, and Star Wars Storyboards, Star Wars Art: Comics hones in on sequential art found in the comic book medium.

Star Wars and comic books have been in lock-step since Star Wars first hit theaters, thanks to George Lucas and an early meeting with writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin.  The transcript of that meeting is included as an appendix to the book.  Beginning with the first comic book adaptation from Marvel and running through the Dark Horse years, Abrams has compiled a solid overview of thirty years of interpretations of the myth and magic of the Force.

Star Wars original cover art to Star Wars Howard Chaykin

Plates from cover and interior artwork were hand-picked for the book by George Lucas.  Star Wars Art: Comics is worth its price alone simply for the clear photos of Howard Chaykin and Tom Palmer’s original cover art for Marvel’s Star Wars Issue #1 and Dave Cockrum and Rick Hoberg’s original artwork to the oversized edition, both also featured on the book’s binding under the jacket.  Al Williamson’s stunningly rendered imagery from his adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back pepper the volume as well.

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Phil Noto Black Widow

The last day of the year is finally here, and with that the last of our reviews of the best content of 2014.

We’ve previewed comic books each month thanks to publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, and Image.  We sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics has to offer, too, and although we don’t have enough time to review everything we review those titles we think our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro angle.  And we read plenty of books–sci-fi and fantasy, pulp and spy novels, movie and TV tie-ins, even Westerns and steampunk, as well as non-fiction books about movies, TV, and other genre topics.  This past month we have looked again at these titles, as we narrowed our selections to what we think are the very best.  So here are our picks for Best in Print for 2014.

Black-Widow-5

Best Comic Book Series — Black Widow, Marvel Comics.  We were wondering early on what would take the place of Fraction and Hollingsworth’s Hawkeye series for the most satisfying superhero fix.  It didn’t take long to see this other Marvel series looking at another superhero in a similarly personal–but very different–way.  It was a standout in a great year of comics.  Phil Noto’s art and colors were incredible and Nathan Edmondson’s story didn’t let up once.  Full of action, espionage, and intrigue.  A great series to catch-up on in a trade edition.  See our reviews of the series here and here.

AfterlifeWithArchie_07-0

Best Comic Book Mini-Series — Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comics.  Who would have guessed someone could make Archie and friends so accessible to any demographic in the 2010s?  And whose brilliant idea was doing it via a horror genre story of zombies taking over Riverdale?  Smart writing by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and spooky atmospheric illustrations by Francesco Francavilla made for a sumptuous series like no other.  Not technically a mini-series, it feels like one because of its staggered release.  See our earlier raves about the series here.

Wilds End issue 1

Best Comic Book Writing – Dan Abnett, Wild’s End, BOOM! Studios.  Abnett’s Wild’s End really caught us by surprise.  An incredible fantasy read that is truly unique from BOOM! Studios.  Anthropomorphic characters with incredible archaic dialogue that’s witty and smart.  A crazy mash-up of War of the Worlds, Christopher Robin’s neighborhood, and the dark edge and high stakes of Revival.  We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of this series.  Check out our earlier review here.

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Star Wars 5 cover   Dark Empire 4

The decade after Return of the Jedi premiered in theaters in 1983 was a dark period for fans of the Force.  The only place to get a glimpse of a possible future for the Star Wars universe was in Marvel Comics, but that fizzled out in 1986.  In that same year Mike Richardson’s Dark Horse began publishing comics and five years later, in 1991, Dark Horse published the exciting Dark Empire series, its first Star Wars title under its license with Lucasfilm.  The next year Timothy Zahn launched the first book in a trilogy, Heir to the Empire, and between Zahn’s books and subsequent novels and Dark Horse’s various titles, fans could at last revisit their favorite characters and places, in the same way fans of Star Trek had been able to enjoy that franchise for decades.

With Lucas selling Star Wars to Disney, Disney has already taken over the Star Wars novels, resulting in some fun reads in the past year (see our advance reviews here and here).  Beginning in January a new Star Wars series begins, back at Marvel Comics, throwing out the continuity developed over 23 years at Dark Horse.  Fans should have no fear, as writers and artists from the Dark Horse years are already creating the architecture of the Empire and Rebellion for Marvel.  What is uncertain is the fate of the hundreds of comic books in the Dark Horse catalog, since Dark Horse may not sell any of those after this Thursday, January 1, 2015.  Marvel Comics will likely re-publish the bestsellers under its new “Legends” brand, but it’s not known whether more obscure titles will be offered for years if ever again.

Star Wars mega bundle excerpt Dark Horse

So Dark Horse is going out in style, and as always, looking out for its readers, offering 50% off single-issue digital comics on its website, plus a “Farewell Star Wars Bundle,” all of Dark Horse’s digital Star Wars issues for $300.  At first blush this appears to be 568 issues of comic books, but if you delve deeper you’ll see it also includes the full run of Marvel’s Star Wars issues #1-107, plus a few dozen issues in each of 12 other included “Omnibus” editions.  You’d pay $1,000 easily for those in single issues of Marvel’s Star Wars run today.  So basically you’re getting hundreds of comic books, many with cover prices at more than $3.50, for less than 50 cents each.  But there’s more reasons this bundle is a real deal.

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Star Wars issue 1

With the official change over really coming to fruition in January of the return of the Star Wars comic book license to Marvel Comics after its successful run at Dark Horse Comics–and several months before the full magnitude of what it will mean to have Star Wars under the Disney empire–already word is out about re-releases of the original trilogy.

Forget about Greedo shooting first, the ghost of a young Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi, a skinny Jabba at Mos Eisley, and strange circular bursts emitting from destroyed Death Stars.  Forget about a cringe-worthy singsong “Celebrate the Love” over “Lapti Nek.”  It took Disney to give fans what they have wanted all along: the one and only original Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, with no special edition edits, on Blu-ray.  That’s right, all three films are undergoing conversions to Blu-ray for a to-be-announced release date in 2015.

Original Death Star 2 destruction

The original destruction of the second Death Star.

So you’ll again get to upgrade your home version of the trilogy, the one that already replaced you VHS, Beta, Laser Disc, DVD, and countless digital upgrade and boxed set releases–one more time.  That is, until they release the 3D version.  No word yet on that upgrade.

updated Death Star 2 destruction from special edition

Destruction of second Death Star, after the special edition update.

Along with the films, the original Star Wars: A New Hope comic book adaptation created by legendary writer Roy Thomas and illustrated by our favorite comic book artist, Howard Chaykin, will get a facelift of sorts.  Colorist Chris Sotomayor is going to update the four-color standard 1970s style used by Marvel to a more modern color set.  Like the special edition update for the movies, this will give us a new take on the classic book.  Well-known artists Marie Severin, Steve Leialoha and Glynis Wein provided the original color work now being replaced.

Here’s a comparison of the new vs. the old:

Marvel 1977 Star Wars color update

Check back for release dates here at borg.com throughout 2015.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Terminator Salvation The Final Battle

While you’re waiting for Terminator: Genisys, it’s time to get caught up on Terminator tie-ins, and one of the best places to start is Dark Horse Comics’ Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle series.  We have a preview of Issue #11 below, after the break.

What makes the Terminator series great is in part the time travel, and the ability to change events, retrace paths, and create parallel futures.  It’s a seemingly endless playing field for stories of Sarah Connor, her son John, and his friend Kyle, as Skynet attempts to stamp out humanity once and for all, and the humans challenge space and time for a future.

Final Battle terminator issue 11   Terminator Final Battle 1

We previewed Issue #1 the series here at borg.com last December 5.

The comic book writers’ favorite comic book writer, J. Michael Straczynski, has scribed this series over the past year.  Never fear if you missed the monthly issues, Volume 1 is now available in a trade paperback edition.  Pete Woods served as series artist with Matthew Wilson supplying the color work.

Here’s a preview of Issue #11, from Dark Horse Comics:

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Vandroid trade cover

Vandroid is insane at every level.  It’s a movie that never got made.  It left behind a John Carpenter-esque soundtrack (and a really good one).  It’s also an onslaught of some incredible promotional materials, miraculously saved from a fire that burned down the movie studio back in 1984.  Trading cards?  A model kit?  Even temporary tattoos.

Vandroid is the ultimate B-movie action flick from the 1980s.  Or it should have been.  After reading the five-issue limited series re-issued as a trade paperback today from BOOM! Studios and visiting the movie website you may even remember seeing ads for the movie back in the 1980s.  Only you couldn’t have.  Why?  Because none of it is real.

Vandroid trading card sticker

Vandroid is a graphic novel.  It’s a concept about as clever as you get in comic book publishing today.  Let’s create the legend of a movie, a bad production, film footage shot but lost in a fire and subsequent legal battle.  What would have accompanied the film?  How about marketing for an Atari video game?  Slick movie posters?  Got ’em.  What would the video game have looked like?  They’ve mocked up that, too.

vandroid poster

And at the center of the story a humanoid robot who drives a van.  And he possesses the memories of the guy that the technology took over, a washed-up mechanic named Chuck Carducci.  Chuck creates Vandroid after meeting up with his old college roommate from MIT, a guy working on artificial intelligence at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.  Introduce a plutonium-ion battery and some high-octane performance van parts and you could only have… Vandroid.

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SW teaser

So what evil lies behind that door?

Can you remember the first comic book that ever landed in your hands?  More than a decade ago I first met one of my comic book creator heroes, Howard Chaykin.  Chaykin created the very first Star Wars movie poster, a stylized, action-filled cover in his unique style:

Star Wars original Chaykin poster

Chaykin was visiting town at a local Con and luckily for me most of the visitors at the show were in line for the newest young comic artist, and didn’t realize all Mr. Chaykin had done in his long career in comics and television, so I got plenty of time to chat with him, and have him autograph my first comic book: Star Wars, Issue #8, featuring a story called “Eight for Aduba-3,” influenced by The Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai story.  I’ve bragged up Chaykin before here at borg.com.  He’s one of the most interesting guys in the comics business.

Star Wars issue 8 Marvel Comics

“Eight for Aduba-3″ came out when Marvel Comics first had the license to create the Star Wars movie adaptation, drawn by Chaykin and written by Chaykin and the great Roy Thomas, after a quick look at materials from the film and conversation with George Lucas.  They were tapped to take the characters from the new phenomenon in a new direction following the events in Episode IV: A New Hope.  “Eight for Aduba-3″ included more than one tough recruited mercenary, much like its source material, but the big standout was Jaxxon, a giant, angry green rabbit-man.

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Memetic_001_coverB   TMNT Ghostbusters issue 1

It’s a big week of comic book releases from IDW Publishing and BOOM! Studios so we have pulled together several previews, including Issue #1 of a new Edward Scissorhands series, Issue #1 of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mash-up with the Ghostbusters, Issue #1 of a new Dungeons & Dragons series, and Issue #4 of The X-Files: Year Zero. 

From BOOM! Studios we have previews of Issue #1 of an intriguing new series called Memetic, and Issue #1 of 3 Guns–the sequel to 2 Guns, the comic book that became this summer’s Mark Wahlberg/Denzel Washington action movie we reviewed previously here at borg.com.

Legend of Baldur's Gate   Edward Scissorhands issue 1 cover art

And don’t forget to pick up Dark Horse Comics’ new Predator: Fire and Stone, Issue #1, previewed here earlier.

After the break, check out these great previews.

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Dark Matter logo

You’ve got to admit, it’s a pretty good title.  And a decent premise.

Dark Horse Comics’ announced the purchase by Syfy Channel of the rights to the 2012 comic book release Dark Matter, a story about a group of space travelers who awaken from stasis on a spaceship with no memory of how they got there.

Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, who wrote the Dark Horse series, will also run the new TV series.  Prodigy Pictures, who produced the Vancouver-based Lost Girls, will produce Dark Matter for Syfy.   Bringing some past talent from proven shows gives us hope for this series.

The crew of the Raza are known by numbers one through six: three men, two women, and a kid.  One of the men was drawn to look like Djimon Hounsou.   By the looks of the comic book art, the cargo-looking ship could exist in the same world as Firefly’s Serenity.  Here’s the description from the comic book: When the six-person crew of a derelict spaceship awaken from stasis in the farthest reaches of space, their memories of their pasts have been wiped clean.  The only clue to their identities is a cargo bay full of weaponry and a destination–a remote mining colony that is about to become a war zone.

Dark Matter

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