Tag Archive: Dark Horse Comics


 

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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This past February we reported writer/artist Stan Sakai would be bringing his world of the swordsrabbit Miyamoto Usagi to IDW Publishing with stories old and new.  That begins tomorrow with the first issue of the new three-part, full-color series–yep, the black and white comic will be in full color for the first time, written, drawn, and lettered by comics legend Sakai with colors by Tom Luth (Groo the Wanderer).  Readers will catch up with Usagi caught-up in his own new drama set during the Edo period of 17th century Japan.  The first story, titled “Bunraku,” a word for Japanese puppetry, captures many elements that make the world of Usagi Yojimbo unique: adventure filled with culture, folklore, and history.  IDW also plans to bring all 35 years of Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo stories into new collected editions.  So Issue #1 of Usagi Yojimbo: Bunraku is only the beginning.

First published in 1984, Usagi Yojimbo garnered five Eisner Awards for Sakai, the 2014 Inkwell Award, 2007 Harvey Award, 2002 National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Division Awards, and the Cultural Ambassador Award from the Japanese American Museum.  Haven’t checked out Usagi Yojimbo yet?  The humor is similar to Mike Norton’s Battlepug, or Mike Wieringo’s Tellos, full of action, classic Conan, Tarzan, John Carter-level adventure, with the epic feel of Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki.  Note: Another book is now available for pre-order from Sakai’s earlier publisher.  Last week Dark Horse Comics announced Usagi Yojimbo: 35 Years of Covers, a complete hardcover collection of Sakai’s greatest covers (you can pre-order it now here at Amazon).

Usagi Yojimbo #1 will be released in a main cover by Sakai, plus variants by Daniel Warren Johnson–1:10 retailer incentive, Kevin Eastman–1:50 retailer incentive, comics legend Walt Simonson–1:25 retailer incentive, and a two-part Sakai cover that connects with Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim, Issue #1, plus store exclusives from Buzz (500, Legends), Maria Caligari (500, AOD Collectables), J. Scott Campbell (color or B&W, Comics & Ponies), Mike Choi (logo–600, virgin–200, Collector’s Paradise, Knowhere), Chris Johnson (1,000, Brave New World), Alex Kotkin (Excelsior), Linh Nguyen (Incredible Con), Ian Nichols (w/Tick, 500, New England), Tessa Rose (1,000, Jak’s), blank cover from Sakai for use with watercolors, another Sakai cover (500, Other Realms), Julie Sakai (500, Dogū), Mike Vasquez (500, Frankie’s Comics), and the great Charles Vess (color–750, B&W–500, HeroesCon).

Here’s a preview of Usagi Yojimbo–Bunraku, Issue #1, plus previews of the covers for Issues #2 and #3, and all 24 variants for Issue #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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The 24 issues of Matt Kindt′s Dept.H series is everything we look for at borg–science fiction, action, adventure, retro, mystery, noir.  And it all arrived in one comic book series from Dark Horse.  Writer/artist Matt Kindt has said his series Dept.H was inspired by 1970s G.I. Joes, Fisher Price Adventure People toys, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jacques Cousteau, and readers felt all of that come through. From the patch on the underwater crew outfits that evoked the classic 1960s/1970s G.I. Joe Adventure Team to the SP-350 diving saucer from the famed Calypso in the craft that takes the characters to the depths of the ocean floor in the opening pages, to the setting and Department H Headquarters based on the ocean floor that screams H.G. Wells, Dept.H is one of the decade’s top comic book series.  And it’s now coming your way in two paperback omnibus editions beginning next week.

Best known for his run on his Mind MGMT series, Eisner Award nominee Kindt wrote and illustrated the story, with coloring supplied by Sharlene Kindt, his wife.  In part the series is an Agatha Christie-inspired closed room case.  We meet Mia Hardy, who has been asked to find the mole in the undersea lab, a mole who is believed to have sabotaged the base and murdered her father.  Mia has worked with the suspects before, providing the opportunity for the writer to hold back information and share with us bits and pieces when necessary.  Who killed Mia’s father?  Was it Q, the head of Dept. H security?  Her father’s business partner Roger?  The frenetic head of research Jerome?  Demolition expert Bob?  Her childhood friend turned enemy Lily?  Her own brother Raj?  Or Aaron, the research assistant?  Or was it someone topside?

 

Readers feel the pressure of undersea operations as Mia is plunged into her own peril, as the facility again is sabotaged before she can work her way though all the suspects.  How long can Kindt take us for this suffocating adventure before letting us come up for air?  The page design even features a graduated flood gauge at the pages’ edges that slowly “fills up” with water issue after issue.

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Fox’s television series The Orville gets to explore a new world as it comes to Dark Horse Comics this summer.  TV series executive producer/writer David A. Goodman (Futurama) will write the series, with artwork by David Cabeza and colorist Michael Atiyeh (Tomb Raider).  The four-part series The Orville Season 1.5 takes place between TV seasons one and two.  Dark Horse Comics has revealed the first cover by Cabeza (below).  Check out the details from the press release for the comic book series below.

As great as the first season of The Orville was, the three most-recent episodes of the series have met or surpassed the best science fiction episodes of any classic or modern science fiction television series.  The Orville has been serious science fiction since its inception, and many critics and new viewers are at last taking notice.  Beginning with the two-part episode “Identity,” viewers got to see the very best planetary environments and sequences of space battles in the history of sci-fi television.  That’s right, the effects are that good–detailed, realistic, sweeping, and all-out fun.  And forget about comparisons to television shows, the second part of the story arc displayed an exciting, epic space battle on par with the best galactic assaults and dogfights from the Star Wars universe, comparable to the final assault in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Sci-fi fans can’t ask for anything better than that.  Thanks to executive producer and episode director Jon Cassar, The Orville reset the bar for compelling television sci-fi in this two-parter.  From story and surprises to production design and execution, the often lighthearted series drops plenty of drama on viewers–gut punches in contrast to the laughs–proving The Orville is the real deal.

Taking the journey forward immediately after the effects of the battle with the Kaylons, in last night’s episode “Blood of Patriots,” Norm MacDonald’s marvelously realized gelatinous Kaylon battle hero Yaphit is celebrated by the crew, and we meet genre-favorite actor Mackenzie Astin giving a compelling performance as a gritty warrior-soldier, the kind you’re not likely to soon forget.  The balance of the science fiction concept of reflecting the present with fictional stories of the future takes on new meaning with The Orville, as the writers deftly weave not just a single issue, but more than a half a dozen into each new episode.  The result is much-watch television that surpasses decades of programming that preceded the show.  From a character standpoint, it’s great fun to see Scott Grimes’ Lt. Gordon Malloy put forward as the ship’s hero-to-turn-to this season, a flawed man whose quirks and foibles reflect the kind of human you’d find today and in the future as part of any kind of actual fighting force.

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Steve Rogers.  John Spartan and Simon Phoenix.  Han Solo.  Austin Powers and Doctor Evil.  George Taylor.  Mr. Scott and Khaaaaaan!  

Now meet Chen Andalou and Dark Horse Comics’ new mini-series, Astro Hustle.

Not just another Space Station 76, it’s a four-part tale of space pirates out beyond Cosmic Coffee and the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  It has the space action of Killjoys and the fun of 1980’s Flash Gordon. The lost ship Sinnematica has been adrift in space, and with it one Chen Andalou, preserved for the past 60 years in cryo-freeze.  Another sci-fi fish out of water, Chen is unstuck in time, surrounded by a future costumed like Barbarella meets the 1979-81 Buck Rogers, and filled with the more off-the-wall elements of Spaceballs and the animated version of Space Ghost, all thrown in for good measure.  And then what?  Chen runs right into the cop–Captain Igor, a mix of Javert and Prince Barin who is all ready to arrest him.

Plenty of aliens are around to judge him, too–robots like the crazed guard in Logan’s Run and a mix of everyone else you might find aboard the Fhloston Paradise.  Lucky for Chen he meets up with Carbon John the space pirate and his trusty Number One, Svetlana.  But he soon learns while he was asleep his brother became President of the Galaxy.  Wait–are they going to end up like the princes of England or the Kim Jong brothers?

 

What’s missing?  The Cannon Films adaptation and a soundtrack by MECO (that’s the band with Tony Bongiovi, cousin of the Bon Jovi brothers, and Mr. Fabulous Alan Rubin of The Blues Brothers), and it should ship with one of those MPC model kits of a van with the space logo on its side.  Astro Hustle has the crazy/cool of both Vandroid (the comic) and ManBorg (the B-movie), thanks to a creator-owned story by Jai Nitz (El Diablo, Toshiro, Kato Origins, Tron: Betrayal), artwork by Tom Reilly, color by Ursula Decay, and letters by Chris “Crank!” Crank (Rick and Morty, Ciudad, Toshiro).

Take a look at this preview:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Image Comics is giving the celebrated Eisner and Harvey Award-winning series Battlepug a giant hardcover collected edition this month.  Written and illustrated by Mike Norton, Battlepug: The Compugdium collects all five volumes of the brilliant webcomic.  A series of humor-filled fantasy/adventure tales with the look and vibe of One Thousand and One Nights/Arabian Nights, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, Godzilla, and Ray Harryhausen movies, Battlepug is epic and unique.  Following stories told of the last Kinmundian as he rides his giant pug into the next town and next battle, Battlepug represents the best of the comic book and fantasy worlds.

With 336 pages in all with big 8.5 x 12 inch layouts, this is a book you’re going to keep returning to, fun for all ages.  Battlepug: The Compugdium includes Blood and Drool (the dreaded harp seal and Witch Toad!), The Savage Bone (meet Gil and some underwater types), Sit. Stay. Die! (a skull monkey and a host of giant underground beasts await), The Devil’s Biscuit (encounter a giant turtle spirit!), and The Paws of War (face the giant koala!).

Fans who have already gobbled down the five stories will still want to take a look at the Compugdium, as it includes plenty of great additional content: a gallery of 36 pages of Battlepug art from various artists, 15 pages of sketches, including some Norton layouts and early character images, plus cover art prints from the series.

Here are some great pages you’ll find in Battlepug: The Compugdium:

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