Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: "Dark Horse Presents" #4-- Beasts of Burden, Criminal Macabre, Age of Reptiles, and MORE!

When it comes to comics, anthologies are the best place for beginning readers. Take for instance the most popular comic anthology in our nation: the comics in the Sunday newspaper. Not all readers dive into the comics section of their paper knowing they like Zits over Blondie, or Peanuts over Garfield. Not all readers understand the office jokes in Dilbert and the political laughs in Doonesbury (I sure know I didn't as a kid). And most indefinitely, not all readers are lucky enough to pick up their favorite comic-strip from it's first printing through it's entirety. But as devoted anthology readers we understand our tastes tend to vary in the comic medium, and without the pairing of the good, the bad, and the ugly, we could never understand just what we like. Continuing this ritual, Dark Horse Comics released their 4th issue of an on-going monthly anthology called Dark Horse Presents.

This 80 page full color comic features a number of different artists and writers with the added bonus of NO adds (eat that, you DC $#*t-heads). The first reason I picked up this copy was for the all new eight page Beasts of Burden story, written by Evan Dorkin and illustrated by Jill Thompson--I just can't get enough of those cute critters fighting paranormal oddities (click here for more Beasts of Burden). My second reason for the pick is Geoff Darrow's gorgeous cover illustration (just look at the cover pictured above, from his "Shaolin Cowboy" series, and the immense detail put into his work). Everything else in the comic was a complete mystery. New works by new artists and new writers. Just what any comic fanboy or fangirl needs.

Of course, with the obvious difference of opinion in anthologies, how does one go about critiquing it? Well, how about the orderly fashion of story by story "+" meaning good, "-" meaning bad.

"Beasts of Burden: Food Run,"
story by Evan Dorkin, art by Jill Thompson (+)

"Rotten Apple" Chapter 3,
story by Chuck Brown, art by Sanford Greene (-)

"The Adventures of Dog Mendoca and Pizzaboy" Chapter 1,
story by Felipe Melo, art by Juan Cavia (+)

"Number 13" Chaper 3,
story by Robert Love and Dave Walker, art by Robert Love (+)

"Resident Alien" Chapter 1,
story by Peter Hogan, art by Steve Parkhouse (+)

"Criminal Macabre: Die, Die, My Darling!" Chapter 1,
story by Steve Niles, art by Christopher Mitten (+)

"Marked Man" Chapter 4,
story and art by Howard Chaykin (+)

"Age of Reptiles: The Body,"
story an art by Ricardo Delgado (+)

"Finder: Third World" Chapter 4,
story and art by Carla Speed McNeil (-)

"The Protest,"
story by Dara Naragi and art by Victor Santos (+)

All in all, that's eight +'s and two -'s, giving this comic anthology an 80 percent. My only complaint is the price of this comic which happens to be $8, but if you look at it this way, you're actually getting your dollars worth and then some. Not convinced yet? Check out the following preview of five of the featured comics as well as two other variant covers by Fiona Staples and Michael Kaluta (all images courtesy of Dark Horse Comics).

For more information on Dark Horse Presents check out Dark Horse Comics website here.

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