Three tales start and three tales finish!
Dark Horse Comics releases Dark Horse Presents #33! This month’s highlights include the ending of Saint George: Dragonslayer and Kill Me!. Mixing it up for the cover, Dark Horse went with Portland-based painter Michael Schlicting and his gorgeous painting titled “Ghost Forest”, featuring a mysterious creature hidden in a treeline.
This issue opens with Cruel Biology, chapter one, a WWII thriller by Christopher Sebela, Brian Churilla and Dave Stewart. South Pacific Island? Check. Mysterious smoke villain? Check. Jack and Kate? Uncheck. Cruel Biology is off to a good start with three unfit soldiers stationed on an island in the South Pacific when a Japanese balloon floats down, inciting panic. If this doesn’t pull a Lost, I’m in for more, especially with Dave Stewart’s basic, warm color choices.
Following that is Integer City, chapter four, with a story by Jamie S. Rich, art by Brent Schnoover and colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu. Detective Jonny Kilmeister gets in over his head as he tries to save a mobster’s daughter. Once again, I love Beaulieu’s colors, with their solidity and restrained shadows.
The Deleted, chapter two, is next by Brendan McCarthy and Darrin Grimwood. Their sci-fi tale continues as we learn about their Matrix-style game world. McCarthy and Grimwood’s video game slang felt forced, but I did enjoy the subtle RTS fog-of-war reference. A real highlight is McCarthy’s art, specifically the bright neon colors, that make it feel cartoony, and as always the computer chips filling the gutters.
Dean Motter returns to Mister X in Mister X: Frozen Assets, chapter one. Being both writer and artist, he expertly changes the panel count on each page to fit his needs. His color palette is mostly mid tones, so when orange or red appears, it pops off the page. Motter crafts a fun, retro-futuristic crime tale that has my attention.
The eighth chapter of Nexus: Into The Past comes next, written by the long-running team of MIke Baron and Steve Rude, with colors by Glenn Whitmore. Nexus finally confronts the villainous Clayborn, threatening to destroy all of his creations if Nexus’ son isn’t returned. All of Rude’s panels are filled to the brink with action, and Whitmore’s bright colors help separate it all perfectly. The last two panels are jam packed with panels, but never feel overwhelming.
Michael T. Gilbert’s Mr. Monster returns in Mr. Monster vs. The Brain Bats of Venus!, chapter one. Now that his evil twin is defeated, Mr. Monster must face the mind-controlling Brain Bats! Presenting a light-hearted take on superheroes, Gilbert isn’t above showing the stupidity of his leading man. The art is stuck in the 80s, but in the best way, using vibrant colors.
Crime Does Not Pay: City of Roses comes to an end at chapter 12. The creative team of Phil Stanford, Patric Reynolds and Bill Farmer wrap up City of Roses beautifully, as they show realistically how good guys and bad guys aren’t always black-and-white, but have a gray seedy underbelly. This is great crime drama.
Fred Van Lente and Reilly Brown’s Saint George: Dragonslayer also comes to its thrilling conclusion. With colors by Jeremy Colwell, we finally see Saint George live up to his namesake. The opening shot of Saint George rising out of the water is chilling, and Brown’s thin lines allow for an amazing range of facial expressions, especially among the townspeople.
Rich Johnston and Simon Ruhrmiller’s The Many Murders of Miss Cranbourne: The Library in the Body reaches the midway point with chapter two. The Victorian murder-mystery continues as Inspector Wrightson and Constable Hunt continue questioning the suspects about the Lord’s murder. As Hunt starts to piece together the mystery, the color drops out, which was a nice effect by Ruhrmiller.
We end with the third and final chapter of Kill Me! from Chad Lambert and Christine Larsen. Still stuck in the time loop, Jack needs to kill his doppelgangers to find his way back. Larsen’s dark, cartoonish art makes the grim tale a bit more light-hearted. For a story starting with an attempted suicide in an amusement park, it gets quite a bit cheerier in the end.
Dark Horse Presents #33 introduces three new stories while wrapping up three, allowing for a great jumping-on point!