In a modern world where nerve endings are constantly being overloaded by media, indulged in every type of sensory information, and where no piece of art or entertainment is deemed good or even credible unless it’s “ground-breaking,” sometimes it’s best to simply go back to the basics. That is precisely what Dark Horse has done in the reboot of its classic Presents series.
I am certainly one who appreciates innovations in all types of media, and I’ll admit that I tend to read comics that stick out as being unique and original, and because the industry has become flooded with books about Lanterns and Mutants that all seem to have run out of new ideas, I’m sure many readers feel the same way. Because of this, it is nice to be reminded of what comic books really are at their core: simple stories with often ridiculous, but nevertheless engaging, plots. Dark Horse Presents #1 features some terrific writers and artists that pull the reader back to the simpler days and keep this concept alive on every single one of its eighty pages. Yes, EIGHTY pages. DHP #1 is one dense comic book, and at eight dollars for one single issue, readers might be dissuaded from picking it up. I urge you to not be put off by merely by the price, though, for this book contains so many stories that if I described them all, even briefly, this review would last for days. (Seriously…days.) Read on for the skinny…
For some background, Dark Horse Presents is an ensemble series, a mix-match of one-hit and ongoing comics created by different writers and artists. Published from the mid 80’s to the year 2000, the original DHP introduced many hit comics such as Paul Chadwick’s Concrete and Frank Miller’s Sin City. Several years after its run ended, the series was revived as a purely online comic on MySpace, later collected into trade paperbacks.
As this is the official starting over of the series, it is wholly appropriate that issue one begins with a Concrete story, followed by several other equally funny and equally interesting tales. This issue contains a very mysterious man struggling to find a decent job, a little girl who likes to play in the snow, some Star Wars riffraff, and a very worried man trying to convince the mafia of the danger they seek (or which seeks them). It should be noted that many of these comics will be serials throughout DHP, and so there a fair amount of cliff-hangers and “To be continued’s”.
Every story feels different from the one before it, and, while not every one of them is an Eisner award-winner, they all are fun to read and have a very down-to-earth art style as if, reading it, you know someone actually drew this with a pencil and paper. The exception, of course, is the one story that is not a comic but merely a short story, and while I know words without pretty pictures are scary you should absolutely read it. There is even an interview with Frank Miller and a preview of his upcoming book, Xerxes, the prequel to a book you might have heard of called 300, but I warn readers that picking up this issue merely for the preview might leave some disappointed for it is merely a brief snippet.
All of the stories, together, are the reason you should pick up this book. I’m not going into details about any of the stories, because I feel that is how it should be experienced. Sweeping from one tale to the next, discovering hidden gems and surprises along the way, is what makes reading this book an adventure of its own and is why the book feels so “comic-booky” (for lack of a better word) in the truest sense.
“DARK HORSE PRESENTS” ISSUE #1 (8 Page Preview)
WRITTEN BY: Frank Miller, Harlan Ellison, Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, Richard Corben, Carla Speed McNeil, Michael T. Gilbert, Randy Stradley, Paul Chadwick, David Chelsea, Patrick Alexander, and others
ILLUSTRATIONS BY: Frank Miller, Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, Richard Corben, Carla Speed McNeil, Michael T. Gilbert, Paul Chadwick, Patrick Alexander, and others
COVERS BY: Paul Chadwick
“The legendary, premiere anthology is back! The 80-page spectacular, Dark Horse Presents returns with all-new stories by Neal Adams, Howard Chaykin, and Richard Corben; a new Concrete story by Paul Chadwick, a new Crimson Empire story from the Star Wars universe, and an exclusive sneak peek of Frank Miller’s highly-anticipated prequel to 300, Xerxes!
The celebration continues with a brand-new, all-color Finder story by Carla Speed McNeil, a prose piece from science fiction legend Harlan Ellison, the return of Michael T. Gilbert’s Mr. Monster, and much, much more!”
“DARK HORSE PRESENTS” Issue #1 Is Available NOW From Dark Horse Comics! (MSRP-$7.99)