Overview

Dark Horse Presents #2

Review

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Dark Horse Presents #2

Credits

  • Words: Various
  • Art: Various
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $8.99
  • Release Date: Jun 22, 2011

Dark Horse Presents continues its revival in print with another 80 pages of short comics from various popular and new artists and writers. A total of ten different stories appear in this anthology; some are better than others, but a more focused, high-quality effort to bring readers an anthology of diverse titles cannot be found anywhere else in print today.

While the first issue contained the tantalizing first look at Frank Miller’s new Xerxes, this issue lacks that certain allure of exclusive, must-see content, and instead banks of the reader’s desire to seek out new and interesting stories. And Dark Horse delivers.

A comprehensive review of each individual story would be an exhaustive process akin to reciting the back story of every member of the Green Lantern Corps, so what follows will be a short synopsis highlighting the triumphs and/or failures of each entry within.

Concrete (Ch. 2) by Paul Chadwick
A slow, mildly interesting story where all of the characters, even the one made of concrete, all sound the same. There’s mild humor to accompany the mild visuals, all as understated and bland as concrete.

Number 13 (Ch. 1) by Robert Lowe and David Walker
The three characters in this book – a strange boy with violent powers, a three-eyed girl, and a disgusting ogre who wants to eat her – all have great characterization and unique designs that help engross the reader in the detailed and gritty artwork that legitimately induces terror and dread. A highlight of this anthology.

Blood (Ch. 2) by Neal Adams
This second entry is totally devoid of what made the initial concept in chapter 1 so engrossing. It haphazardly transitions from present day to old times where convoluted philosophical talk seems to be the only way to pass the time. The art varies from highly detailed to boringly plain. Ultimately, it feels like two different comics squished together – a bad quality to have when sharing space with nine other short stories.

Finder (Ch. 2) by Carla Speed McNeil
McNeil creates an interesting world with futuristic technology, but its citizens are dealing with the problems of over-population and smugglers of valuable goods (why pigeons and goldfish are valuable is never said). The art style is colorful and bold and fresh, which offers an enticing visual hook, but at the expense of having little substance.  

Marked Man (Ch. 2) by Howard Chaykin
A well-drawn tale about real-world problems, all with the underlying tone that the characters are talking about something a little more sinister than initially apparent. The word balloons are distracting since they look more like desktop icons.

Mr. Monster (Ch. 2) by Michael T. Gilbert
For all of its cartoonish speed, this story more than any in this collection crafts a clear voice, develops an engaging antagonist, and paces itself at breakneck speed, throwing out an inane amount of plant-related humor along the way. Written and drawn in the style of a comic from the days when they cost ten cents a piece, Gilbert’s work shines.

The Wraith by Patrick Alexander
A funny Batman-looking little man gets big laughs in a wordless collection of one- or two-page funny situations. One joke shows what happens when a baby bird gets filled up with water and is more disturbing than funny, but the rest are silly enough to earn a good laugh.

Rotten Apple (Ch. 1) by Chuck Brown and Sandford Greene
Greene creates an intriguing world where zombies and monsters seem to be commonplace and humans are the minority. Initially, the humans drag down the pacing, but this comic ends up being undeniably entertaining when a tiny blue man with the head of a bull makes his mark on the pages with some funny quips and a dash of action.

Murky World by Richard Corben
Well drawn, but the lettering brings down the overall art style with its cartoonish word balloons and obscure-looking sound effects. Still, the story of trickery and deception make an entertaining read. The giant naked cyclops with poufy white hair is unlike any rickshaw driver ever seen.

Snow Angel by David Chelsea
A thoughtful and imaginative story about a girl who literally turns into a snow angel when she makes one on the ground like so many children every winter (wouldn’t that be awesome?). Mom and Dad tell her they're moving to snowless Arizona, so she shifts the world's poles with her powers to make it snow there, which allows for a hilarious sequence involving Santa Claus tanning and a penguin with a beach umbrella.

The anthology delivers great entertainment throughout with exciting new worlds (Number 13, Rotten Apple, Murky World) and amusing situations (Mr. Monster, The Wraith, Snow Angel), with only a few stories falling short of creating an entertaining, accessible short. Definitely worth picking up.

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