Tag Archive: Dark Horse Comics


Review by C.J. Bunce

Another pandemic delayed production finally makes its way to TV audiences this week.  It’s the Syfy Channel series Resident Alien, based on the crazy-good Dark Horse Comics sci-fi/crime/mystery mash-up comics by Peter Hogan (2000 AD, Tom Strong) and Steve Parkhouse (Milkman Murders, Doctor Who)–first reviewed here at borg back in 2013.  Airing Wednesday nights, the show stars Alan Tudyk as the extra-terrestrial hero who survives a ship crash on what was supposed to be a quick mission to Earth, Coneheads-style.  Taking on the part of Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle, he is able to mask his appearance using his otherworldly powers.  Like E.T. he just wants to go home, but he must wait until his friends come to find him in the town of Patience, Colorado, an Everwood-style small town full of medical crises that he must attend to after the town doctor is found dead.  He gets pulled into a murder mystery, which he takes to like Agent Cooper in the town of Twin Peaks.  It’s this police procedural drama-meets-sci-fi blend that is taken forward in the story.

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Thirty-seven years after the premiere of the cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, the screenplay writer has penned a sequel.  For fans of the quirky sci-fi movie, this sequel was of the eagerly-awaited variety.  You’re about to get your money’s worth as Earl Mac Rauch, who wrote the script and a novelization of the movie, is delivering the hefty, 568-page volume this summer, available now for pre-order here at Amazon.  With another long title, Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League et al, –A Compendium of Evils, continues the adventures of the scientist-surgeon-entertainer-daredevil played by Peter Weller.

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In the graphic novel 47 Ronin, independent comics pioneer Mike Richardson (Star Wars: Crimson Empire) and Japanese-born American legendary comics artist Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo) re-created the famed 1700-1701 historical event of a group of loyal Japanese ronin (leaderless samurai) who avenged the death of their leader.  The award-winning book from Dark Horse Comics is filled with action and intrigue, a dramatic account of the importance of loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor that influenced the culture of Japan ever since.  Initially released in hardcover, at last the graphic novel is getting its first trade paperback edition.  The more affordable edition is available for pre-order now here at Amazon and we have a look inside for borg readers below.

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Our borg Best of 2020 list continues today with the Best in Comics and Games.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Books of 2020 here, the Best Movies of 2020 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2020 here, and the Best in Television 2020 here.

We reviewed comics from every major publisher this year, and were pleasantly surprised with all the new characters and content available.  You’ll find both some new creators on the list this year and some fan favorites who keep making better comic books each new year.  We also include some great games and more from 2020.

Let’s get started with The Best in Comics…

Best Comic Book Series – Bounty Hunters (Marvel Comics).  Writer Ethan Sacks and artist Paolo Villanelli played with the entire Star Wars universe in a single series, bringing back the cyborg Valance and a host of our favorite bounty hunters.  The result is a great series full of action and throwbacks.

Best Sci-Fi Comic Series, Best Limited Comic Book Series, Best Interior Artwork – Strayed (Dark Horse Comics) by writer Carlos Giffoni and artist Juan Doe.   In the future a military-industrial complex reigns over all humanity and actively destroys distant alien worlds.  The galaxy’s only hope can be found through an unlikely pair: an astral-projecting cat named Lou and his human Kiara.  Honorable mention: Rogue Planet by writer Cullen Bunn and artists Andy MacDonald and Nick Filardi (Oni Press).

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If Neil Gaiman’s prose adaptations of historical works haven’t held your interest, perhaps this new visual adaptation of his novelistic collection of stories in Norse Mythology may be a better entry point.  Adapted by writer-artist P. Craig Russell (whose adaptation of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung should be required reading for all graphic novel enthusiasts), this new series is sure to get those with Viking heritage their needed fix for all things Nordic.  Thanks to key visual contributions from Russell and artists Mike Mignola, Jill Thompson, David Mack, and Jerry Ordway, and color work by Dave Stewart and Lovern Kindzierski, get ready to get immersed in some ethereal, surreal, classical surroundings with the stories of Thor, Loki, Odin, and more.

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One of the masters of modern horror comics is back with another twist on Frankenstein.  Mike Mignola has created a prequel to his 2015 series Frankenstein: Underground, which found Mary Shelley’s famous monster left abandoned and driven underground to the very center of the Earth.  In Mignola’s new series, Frankenstein: Undone, Frankenstein’s creator lies dead in the Arctic, and his creature must search for a new purpose.  The creature moves north, out of the world of Shelley’s novel, and into the world of Mignola’s Hellboy.

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It’s one heckuva daydream for your cat.  What if he went off to outer space to save us from a looming threat?  That’s the challenge for the cat named Lou in the sci-fi graphic novel Strayed.  Writer Carlos Giffoni teamed-up with artist Juan Doe in a five-issue mini-series that has now made its way to a collected trade paperback edition.  In the future a military-industrial complex reigns over all humanity and actively destroys distant alien worlds.  The galaxy’s only hope can be found through an unlikely pair: an astral-projecting cat named Lou and his human Kiara.  Can they save us all?

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Dark Horse Comics is bringing another unused movie screenplay out of the vaults and adapting it into a five-issue comic book mini-series.  Dark Horse’s biggest success at this approach was adapting George Lucas’s original 1974 treatment for Star Wars as The Star Wars, featuring the incredible artwork of Mike Mayhew (reviewed here at borg).  Next up will be Dan O’Bannon’s original screenplay for Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi/horror classic Alien, which was heavily edited and modified before arriving in its final form for theaters.  It’s arriving with the comic book touch as Alien: The Original Screenplay, in bookstores this summer.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

With the much anticipated ninth episode Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker here at last, writer/director J.J. Abrams has succeeded again at managing a major film franchise challenge and making the best of it.  With Star Trek in 2009, he took a waning property and shot new life into it, but came up short four years later when he tried again and delivered Star Trek Into Darkness, heavily milking the nostalgia of the fan base with its retread of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.  In 2015 Abrams was handed the keys to the other big space franchise, where he revitalized a left-for-dead movie saga and delivered Star Wars: The Force Awakens, notable for the introduction of Daisy Ridley’s curious and mysterious desert scavenger Rey, arguably one of the most fleshed out characters in the entire franchise with this final installment.  Fortunately Abrams’s return to Star Wars will likely net better results for its fanbase with a movie that rises to become the best in the final trilogy, or at least as good as his The Force Awakens.  Is this still George Lucas’s Star Wars?  No, but that just shows the power and unique status of the original trilogy–even Lucas couldn’t capture the magic again with his prequels.  The Rise of Skywalker is the kind of movie that could be judged on its merits as a J.J. Abrams movie and separately as a Star Wars sequel.  Whether you as a viewer like this installment or not will depend on your own expectations.

Abrams may be at his best, with his unique style, lens flares and all, when he gives fans what they want.  Abram’s success this holiday season is a bit of a salvage effort, bringing Rey back as the focal hero/heroine of the story, incorporating some of the saga’s best “Jedi being Jedi” sequences, and tapping into the nostalgia for the 1977 original in bite-sized bits instead of leaning on it like he did so unapologetically with Star Trek Into Darkness.  If only Abrams had made all three Star Wars films, this third chapter could have been much tighter, and the whole trilogy would likely be better received by most of the fanbase.  As a viewer if you don’t (or can’t) just sit back and enjoy the cameo performances, throwbacks, and Easter eggs, you’ll get the feeling that using two directors instead of one over the three films is the crux of any problems in The Rise of Skywalker.  Upon its release, the previous installment The Last Jedi felt like it belonged to an entirely different story than The Force Awakens.  Plot threads created by Abrams were summarily abandoned.  Key characters were eliminated without explanation.  New plot threads came from out of nowhere.  In short, the director-flipping was the big mistake from a storytelling perspective.  Abrams has the extensive portfolio behind him to demonstrate he would have been the right choice to direct all three films.  So this time Abrams had a greater task than ever before, because he was stuck making major course corrections, all to get this tale back on track, re-focused again on Rey.  The necessary patchwork aside, The Rise of Skywalker will go down as one of Abrams’ best works.

Will Star Wars, or more specifically, the Skywalker saga with this three-part conclusion, endure the test of time?  If audiences continue to believe in its value as entertainment, there is no reason why studios can’t keep going back to this material repeatedly–think Shakespeare’s plays, Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Shelley’s Frankenstein, Dickens’s Ebenezer ScroogeRecall how even more recent stories like the Terminator, Predator, and Halloween (and Star Trek) film series have continued to make sequels and wholesale reboots, disregarding a film that doesn’t do as well and continuing like it was never made.  There’s no reason that can’t happen someday with Star Wars.  So those fans who still want to see the Expanded Universe on the big screen–the complexities and triumphs of both Timothy Zahn’s sequel trilogy and Dark Horse Comics’ many stories like Dark Empire that did so much more with heroes Luke and Leia–just wait.  Someday the right new visionary will step in and make it happen, but fans will need to accept new actors as their heroes, just like we saw with the latest Star Trek trilogy.

Want to dig in further?  Spoilers follow.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

First previewed here at borg back in March, the first comic book story from the universe of television’s The Orville reads in every way like a script that didn’t get produced–an episode that fits nicely into the timeline of the show but didn’t get filmed.  Dark Horse Comics is publishing four issues this summer, two two-part stories written by executive producer David A. Goodman with artwork by David Cabeza and colors by Michael Atiyeh.  Fans of the show who haven’t already picked them up will want to find the two issues already in comic shops and add the next two to their lists.  The feel of the characters is spot-on, every side glance among Ed, Kelly, and Gordon looks like actors Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, and Scott Grimes–unusual when sci-fi adaptations these days often don’t feature the drawn characters looking like the actors behind them.

Both stories for Dark Horse’s first foray into The Orville take place between the first two seasons.  The first two-issue story, “New Beginnings,” presents some things not necessary for the TV show, but still interesting to see play out, including the rapid growth of Bortus and Klyden’s child Topa, and how that relates to Kelly encountering her new love interest, Cassius, after walking away from Ed at the end of Season One.  As fans know, Cassius took on a bigger role in the second season of the show.

  

Meanwhile Ed and Gordon take off in a shuttle to attend a conference.  Gordon is bored with mundane ship tasks, specifically investigating a Magnitar.  And Ed can’t get Kelly out of his thoughts.  As they learn, sometimes it’s better to be bored.  They end up crash landing on a primitive planet, providing readers the adventure and exploration the show really excels at.  All the while writer Goodman carefully picks up that banter between Ed and Gordon that provides the backbone of the humor for the show.  All told, “New Beginnings” is a great start that will hopefully mean many more years of tie-in comics.

Take a look at a preview of the story, plus a sneak peek at the cover art to Issues #3 and #4, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics:

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