The penultimate issue before the relaunch sees four stories come to their conclusions!
Another month means another great issue of Dark Horse Presents! Dark Horse Comics showcases 10 new chapters in its flagstaff anthology book with highlights by Stan Sakai, Jamie S. Rich and Mike Richardson and a cover of the title character of Mister X by Dean Motter.
Dark Horse Presents #35 opens with a new first chapter of the long-running Usagi Yojimbo titled The Artist, from Stan Sakai with colors by Tom Luth. The vibrant colors, which are missing from most modern comics, are especially notable. It’s a fun look at feudal Japan, where Usagi meets an artist and all may not be what it seems. It’s perfect for fans of anthropomorphic animal ninjas.
After that is S.H.O.O.T. First: Bett and Byron chapter two by Justin Aclin, Nicolás Daniel Selma and Marlac. Once again, Selma’s art didn’t do much for me, as I still found the characters wooden, but the story is intriguing enough to keep me reading as the supernatural hunters are sent to track down a Tengu in Japan.
The one-shot Breaking Out from Chad Lambert and April Kusbiantoro is next, an autobiographical tale about a radio personality trying to break out of the business and move on to something different. It hits home for anyone who has worked a job they didn’t like, which is everyone. It also pokes fun at the comics collectors market, breaking the fourth wall by using a reference to Dark Horse Comics.
The third and final chapter of Dean Motter’s retro-futuristic noir Mister X: Frozen Assets follows as Mister X gets to the bottom of why Mr. Goldfarb is cryogenically frozen. Continuing with a cop using a jetpack, the futurism is strong in this chapter. Plus, Frozen Assets includes one of the best lines written: “Melted away. Yes. Like yesterday’s spumoni…”
The Secret Order of The Teddy Bears chapter two is next from Mike Richardson (based on a concept by Keith Goldberg) and Ron Chan. A cute story of what stuffed teddy bears are secretly up to-battling an ancient bear killer-the story’s art perfectly straddles the border of playful and solemnity.
Michael T. Gilbert’s Mr. Monster vs. The Brain Bats of Venus! is next. Doc Stearn hires a new female friend after he comes up with a foolproof way to take out The Brain Bats, but it might not be the actual end of the tricky foes. I love a simple, straightforward story of good and evil, with humor at the forefront. Comics should be this fun.
The also-delightfully-titled Davey Jones and The Mystery of The Monocle Men follows with chapter two. From Dennis Culver and Sloane Leong, Davey Jones interrogates a Monocle Man into letting him know where the children’s grandpa is located. My review of the first chapter stated it was for all ages, but this chapter gets a bit heavier, contrasting it’s simplistic art style.
The third chapter of Cruel Biology by Christopher Sebela, Brian Churilla and Dave Stewart, sees the soldiers on the island trying to deal with the fallout of the weather balloon crashing alongside the resentment of the local tribe. I enjoy the idea of trying to survive while stranded on a “deserted” island and, Churilla’s panel layouts show the urgency of the situation.
Brendan McCarthy and Darrin Grimwood’s The Deleted is next with chapter four, which delves deeper into the backstory of the video game Dante is stuck inside, taking the story to a heartfelt twist at the end. As always, the art is busy and colorful, with even the gutters filled with trippy and radiant computer chip imagery.
We close with the sixth chapter of Integer City by Jamie S. Rich, Brent Schoonover and Jean-Francois Beaulieu. The cultists have released Tekthulu, an energy-based god, as Detective Jonny Kilmeister continues his job of saving the daughter of a local mobster. Schoonover excels in facial expressions, complemented by Beaulieu’s colors; any time a color appears that’s not the standard blue or orange, it bursts off the page. It’s sad to see the retro-futurism of Integer City come to its humorous end.
Dark Horse Presents #35 covers all manner of genres from crime to autobiographical to warrior teddy bears. Not including the one-shot, this penultimate issue of Dark Horse Presents covers four stories ending and we’ll wrap up the rest in the next issue. Then Dark Horse Presents will take a hiatus, before it’s relaunched later this year in a new 48-page, $4.99 format.