RU reviews Dark Horse Presents #19, the return of X and a whole bunch of awesome stories.
Dark Horse Presents #19
X by Duane Swierczynski and Eric Nguyen
Alabaster: Boxcar Tales by Caitlin R. Kiernan and Steve Lieber
Deep Sea by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray and Tony Akins
Gamma by Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas
Captain Midnight by Joshua Williamson and Victor Ibáñez
Mind MGMT: What's The Magic Word? by Matt Kindt
Crime Does Not Pay by Phil Stanford and Patric Reynolds
Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse
Station to Station by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman
The White Suits by Frank J. Barbiere and Giovanni Valletta
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
I have no idea how to review this book. Am I supposed to give an account for each and every story or can I just give the highs and lows? Good thing I’m lazy so this was not a difficult choice.
Dark Horse Presents is the publisher’s recently re-launched anthology that highlights new comics, stories that don’t need an ongoing or even a limited series to be enjoyed, and it also provides opportunities for readers to “taste” current ongoing without spending too much on a book they are not sure of, and it is awesome!
Dark Horse Presents #19 starts off with the rebooted “X” character (I’ll get into this in a minute) and is only one of two “Chapter 1s” in the comic. Usually I hate coming into the middle of a story and that’s one of the reasons I avoid anthology books on the whole because I am an anal fanboy who wants to know everything, but this issue brought back X so I gave it a shot. Good call. I am not going to argue that all of the stories in this book were perfect or even enjoyable, but, what I will say is that in none of the stories were this new reader was thrown into the middle of made me feel like I couldn’t catch-up without reading issues #18, #17, etc . Even in Chapter 3 of Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Tony Akins’ “Deep Sea” was new reader friendly enough for me to get the general idea of what happened in Chapters 1 and 2 without feeling lost.
Because I do not want to get into each and every story let me tell you the best one; Mind MGMT: What's the Magic Word? by Matt Kindt. In the name of all that is holy, why have I been so stupid to ignore the opinions of people I respect by not reading this comic? In eight pages Matt Kindt told a better, more detailed, better looking, character developing story than Old Man Logan did in eight issues (and 16 months). After reading What’s The Magic Word? I immediately pre-ordered MIND MGMT Volume 1 because I wanted more as soon as possible. Damn fine read.
Other notable stories include Captain Midnight by Joshua Williamson and Victor Ibáñez and Station to Station by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman. Both tales were entertaining and fresh and enough to get me to buy #20, even if it didn’t have more X.
Unfortunately, in an anthology there has to be a worst story, and in this case that award goes to Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. There were one or two stories I liked less than Resident Alien – such as Crime Does Not Pay by Phil Stanford and Patric Reynolds and The White Suits by Frank J. Barbiere and Giovanni Valletta – what set this comic above (below) them was how nonchalant it felt. The art looks like a cross between Steve Dillon and Michael Allred without the charm, and the story was just boring and without feeling. I’ve read the same story that was Resident Alien many times before, and this version of a familiar tale added nothing to the motif.
Now, the reason I wanted to read Dark Horse Presents #19; X by Duane Swierczynski and Eric Nguyen. I’ve stated before how much I loved the old X comic by, primarily, Steven Grant and how I’ve been waiting for his return since it was announced that Dark Horse was bringing back Comics Greatest World. Maybe I hyped this up too much in my head, because the first chapter of X in Dark Horse Presents #19; X did very little to keep me excited. I get that this is a reboot, not a re-launch, and that I shouldn’t expect the same character as before, but this was not X. Swierczynski and Nguyen got the second most important character of this book perfect, the city of Arcadia, but mostly everything else fell short of what I was hoping for. The villains were your typical fat greedy gangsters who won’t take a threat seriously until it’s too late and even the plan to get the X Killer was mundane and tired. But, what really pushed me over the edge was the last page: X doesn’t quip, X doesn’t monologue, and X especially doesn’t go for the ironic killing dialogue a soon to be dead bad guy used at the beginning of the story. You know who does that; the love child of Spider-Man and Punisher.
The thing is, even with all of that going against it, I have faith that Duane Swierczynski can make this work. He’s done wonders with Bloodshot, his Cable run was pretty solid, and his Deadpool cracked me up (Messiah War crossover between Cable and the 2008 volume of X-Force). Furthermore, Nguyen’s art complemented what I wanted the story to be very well. As Swierczynski keeps working on X in Dark Horse Presents and later the 2013 four issue limited series, I hope that he finds the correct voice for the character, or lack thereof as the case may be.
Dark Horse Presents #19
8/10: give it a shot, there’s something in here for everyone