A Dark Horse Weekend

Avoiding this week’s Flashpoint offerings from DC Comics, I had a look at the shelf in my LCS this week and picked up a few interesting goodies from Dark Horse and am I glad I did.

The Goon #34. It’s been a while since I’ve read this delicious series and this is a great place to return to his madcap adventures, with the ugly anti-hero now going bi-monthly.

Things kick off with The Goon and his pal Franky strolling on a summer’s day before being beset, or rather, sparkled upon, by a group of pouty metrosexuals. These vamps just wanna play baseball, but The Goon mocks their manliness and a battle begins, with a great page of prose describing its “ferocity and magnitude,” before The Goon breaks the fourth wall and lets the reader know that he isn’t going to bash the cats of Twilight for the rest of the issue. It’s an unexpected and welcome approach. Deciding that the real root of the vampire popularity sweeping the world is tween girls, The Goon reluctantly goes to a home for orphans, but his timing is bad as a young, blonde with a blank stare has just been dropped off there, and she doesn’t play nice. In other words, she turns into a monstrosity and attacks the other poor kids. They manage to trap her under the floorboards while Dog (a werewolf child with a wooden leg) sits on a bucket to keep her there.

There are some genuinely LOL moments here, including the aforementioned bucket sitter, and the kids method of getting The Goon to visit their house and lay the smackdown on their new monster tenant (it involves lots of beer). No other comic you read will contain lines such as, “Ah! The sound alone is making my testes smaller!” That’s a guarantee.

There’s 2 letters pages in which creator Powell replies to fans including soldiers, a professional fighter and a former prisoner. The humour is outrageous and the art is beautiful., despite being filled with ugly characters.

Go here for a preview.

Conan #1. Adding to the multitude of mini-series Dark Horse produced over the last few years about the sword winging barbarian is this new short, sharp 2 ish mini. Written by Ron Marz (Witchblade) with gorgeous art by Bart Sears, like the issue above, this is a great story for those new to the character. Marz is one of those writers who doesn’t get the credit he deserves and is able to create interesting tales in any genre. His name and Sears on the cover made me pick this up. Sears just doesn’t do enough comics work these days, so I’m always sure to pick up whenever he gives us a new treasure.

Titled Island of no Return, this story begins with Conan doing his best rooftop dash while clutching an array of jewels and weapons. He’s just been caught sleeping with a judge’s wife and the angry man has sent a few soldiers to bring back his head. Saved by two sisters, Brenna and Venya, from the eyes of the swarming soldiers, Conan agrees to help them on a quest to snatch some treasure from a haunted and long abandoned island. All 3 thieves get to know each other a little better on their treacherous journey across raging seas and sheer cliffs and upon arriving at the rundown palace Conan discovers that it may indeed be haunted.

Marz does a great job of giving the tale some genuine ancient flavour with Conan’s proud nature and dialogue that sounds like it’s from the ages. There isn’t a lot of action here, apart from the great chase/battle in the opening pages, but there is a sense that the 2 sisters are up to something wicked. Mark Roberts’ colours make Sears already exquisitely fluid pencils pop withe even more dynamism, adding to the already adventurous feel.

Go here for a preview.

Creepy #6. I’m a sucker for a good anthology, and usually avoid horror as my comic genre of choice, but I’ve bought every one of these issues of the relaunched series as they generally offer tasty bite size morsels of..creepiness by some great legends of the biz, plus exciting new talent.

This 48 pager, black and white issue features 5 stories. The opener, called Mine is from Joe R. Lansdale and Nathan Fox and follows a cowboy who finds a corpse and steals his footwear and timepiece. The corpse wakes up and chases him into town, while the cowboy gets to the bottom of who the corpse is. Fox’s slightly sketchy style works splendidly with Lansdale’s well paced script.

Even Kramer form Seinfeld hates clowns, as does anyone who’s seen Stephen King’s It film, I’m sure. The next 10 page story is not for you if you suffer from coulrophobia as Christopher Taylor and Jason Shawn Alexander present a clown who believes he’s kind of like DC Comics’ The Spectre, and doles out God’s justice by protecting kids from demons hiding in humans. Not a lothappens, but the clown’s narration works well, as do Alexander’s violent brush strokes.

Alice Henderson and Kevin Ferrara ‘s 1880 set tale fuses two different genres, which could work with more pages, but doesn’t really with this largely silent train crash scenario.

The 3 page Loathsome Lore from Dan Braun, Craig Haffner and Gary Brown is a look at a few of they key, evil women behind Adolf Hitler, proving that real life is usually scarier than fantasty.

Fair Exchange is the final, 8 page story, from Archie Goodwin and Neal Adams. It’s a classic detailing Dr Ralph’s Courtney who is paid a fortune to give the ailing entrepreneur Mr Mannix a second chance at life by transferring his brain to a young, virile body. The twist is a good one, as after the success of the experiment, he awakens, kills the doctor and ventures outside. However, he doesn’t realise that his new body is a vampire and he burns to death in the sunlight.

The one panel Uncle Creepy introductions aren’t needed for each tale, but do serve to honour the history of the series.

Go here for a preview.

Dark Horse Presents relaunched series returned for its 2nd issue this week – an 80 pager no less. I’ve had a quick look and Paul Chadwick’s Concrete in the desert tale is great, as is a silent 8 page Batman parody called The Wraith from Jason Alexander featuring a bully Dark Knight-esque kid.

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