Dark Horse Presents 6 (April 1987)

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This issue drags.

It opens with Trekker‘s story line ending. Hopefully Dark Horse just gave Randall his own series so I don’t have to read any more of it. The story nearly gets okay on the last page, but it’s still got Randall’s awful writing to bring it back down. The art’s real lazy too.

Workman’s Roma continues to be a Love and Rockets knock-off, but at least this issue it’s a little more engaging. The strong design sense comes through a lot, creating a nice looking story, but not a particularly good one.

I’d like to say Concrete‘s back on track but only slightly. Chadwick does a Concrete in Hollywood–with hints at Concrete’s real identity (Ron). It’s supposed to be funny and the end is supposed to be funny but it’s really just mediocre.

Then, for the close, Mattsson plagiarizes some of Dune in a weak effort.

CREDITS

Trekker; writer and artist, Ron Randall; letterer, David Jackson. Roma; writer, artist and letterer, John Workman. Concrete, Little Pushes; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Doc Abstruse, Explains Warp Speed; writer, Steve Mattsson; artist, Tony Salmons; letterer, David Jackson. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 5 (February 1987)

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There’s very little to say about this issue’s Concrete story. It’s not a bad story, just another waste of time–though I guess the art is nowhere near as strong as usual. The story’s about this young woman who wants to be an artist and wants Concrete to be her subject. When she meets him, does she overcome her urban withdrawal and talk to him?

No.

Then there’s John Workman’s Roma. Workman–who’s lettered just about everything at one time or another–initially gives the impression of being a really good artist. Then it becomes clear he’s way too design oriented. As far as the writing, I think Los Bros Hernandez should have pursued plagiarism charges. Roma reads almost exactly like early Love and Rockets.

I could barely follow Randall’s writing on Trekker so I’m hoping it passes quietly from my memory.

Smith’s animated animal adventure is, once again, charming.

CREDITS

Concrete, Burning Brightly, Brightly…; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Roma; writer, artist and letterer, John Workman. Trekker; writer and artist, Ron Randall; letterer, Workman. Pookey, Pickin’ Up Sticks; writer and artist, James Dean Smith; letterer, David Jackson. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 4 (January 1987)

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It’s a real toss-up this issue for worst writing.

Randall’s script for Trekker is laughably bad, but there’s something almost confrontational about Stradley’s Mindwalk script. It’s like he’s punishing the reader for taking the time to read the story, as though he or she isn’t being punished enough by Emberlin’s artwork.

Randall’s Trekker art, on the other hand, isn’t terrible. He’s got some issues with proportions and perspective, but his enthusiasm and persistence are clear. He worked hard illustrating his derivative, atrocious sci-fi story.

The rest of the issue is similarly unimpressive. Sure, Chadwick’s Concrete artwork is amazing, but the story is another one where Concrete spends eight pages doing something then decides to reverse and not tell anyone. So why does the reader have to put up with it, to sympathize for the character? Why should we?

Once again, a moderately cute Boris strip closes the issue.

CREDITS

Trekker; writer and artist, Ron Randall; letterer, David Jackson. Concrete, The Gray Embrace; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Mindwalk, Mindwar!, Part Two; story and script, Randy Stradley; story and art, Randy Emberlin; letterer, David Jackson. Boris the Bear, The Boris Chronicles; story and art, James Dean Smith; script, Randy Stradley; letterer, David Jackson. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 3 (November 1986)

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Yay, Warner’s back with Black Cross–featuring a bunch of expository dialogue recapping the first story. With all that useless exposition, one might think Warner would explain the ground situation to the reader. But he doesn’t. It’s confusing and a lot of work thinking about something so dumb sounding.

Stradley and Emberlin’s Mindwalk has its weakest entry so far, with Stradley inexplicably using two narrators here. A mediocre first person narrator is one thing, but then he brings in a female narrator who sounds like a six-year-old. Emberlin’s art is similarly problematic, though he draws Kirby-esque monsters well.

The Concrete story is charming. It’s the adventures of the female scientist (still not clear on Concrete’s origin, which seems to be intentional) trying to move his unconscious body. Chadwick’s art is gorgeous.

The Boris Chronicles strip is cute, with Smith basically converting a newspaper strip to four pages.

CREDITS

Mindwalk, Mindwar!, Part One; writer, Randy Stradley; artist, Randy Emberlin; letterer, David Jackson. Concrete, The Four-Wheeled Sleeping Pill; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Black Cross; writer and artist, Chris Warner; letterer, David Jackson. Boris the Bear, The Boris Chronicles; story and art, James Dean Smith; script, Randy Stradley; letterer, David Jackson. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 2 (September 1986)

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Wow, does Chadwick ever try hard to be cute. His Concrete story this issue is a completely useless, inconsequential diversion… Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe it’s supposed to be charming, but it just seems like he wastes a lot of energy. The art’s okay, Concrete being a really boring looking character but the desert setting is fine.

I certainly wish Chadwick was on Mindwalk, just because Emberlin is so weak. He’s got the occasionally well-designed panel, but the art tends to be broad or ugly. The broad stuff is fine, it just doesn’t look like he put in work. The ugly stuff… well, he put in work to no good effect. The script’s goofy in an annoying way.

Thankfully, DeMatteis and Badger’s Hellwalk, Inc. is fantastic. It’s this romantically involved detective couple who handle occult cases. DeMatteis grounds it in depressing and hopeful reality. A very nice closer.

CREDITS

Concrete, Under the Desert Stars; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Mindwalk, Crystal Vision; writer, Randy Stradley; art by Randy Emberlin; letterer, John Workman. Hellwalk, Inc., Cortege; writer, J.M. DeMatteis; artist and letterer, Mark Badger. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 1 (July 1986)

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You know, I really didn’t expect Dark Horse Presents to open its first issue with a male overcompensation piece like Black Cross. Warner’s art’s amateurish and I guess it shows movie optioning is a comic book tradition (the character looks like Sylvester Stallone). It’s a dismal story.

Chadwick’s two contributions are all right. The Concrete one is charming and at least hints at some kind of social consciousness for the comic (which Black Cross feigns). More impressive, as far as the art goes, is Brighter!, a Vertigo ready story about some young woman who can produce optical illusions. So she’s a mutant (lots of superpowers this issue). But the art’s gorgeous and makes up for the lukewarm writing.

Stradley’s Mindwalk is about another mutant (one with a kind of telepathy). It’s nearly okay, though Emberlin’s art isn’t quite there. Features Nazis and gangsters though.

I wasn’t expecting so many mutants.

CREDITS

Black Cross; writer and artist, Chris Warner; letterer, John Workman. Concrete, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Mindwalk; writer, Randy Stradley; artist, Randy Emberlin; letterer, John Workman. Brighter!; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Sixth Gun 6 (November 2010)

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Almost the entire issue is horizontal, meaning the pages are read across. It must have been a lot of work for Hurtt, but it’s done to excellent effect. The issue is another all action issue, but it’s this huge, layered battle scene. There’s an epilogue to it (The Sixth Gun, I believe, was initially a limited series ending here and so the epilogue makes sense as a teaser for what could come next). The epilogue is on regular, vertical pages.

What’s so good about the issue isn’t particularly the battle–though Bunn does plot it rather well. The ending is unexpected and there are some really nice smaller sequences, like Becky going up against Mrs. Hume.

But what’s best about it is how much Bunn infers instead of explains. The Sixth Gun‘s lack of overall exposition should be the standard, not the exception.

It’s a fantastic finish, better than expected.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, colorist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; editors, Charlie Chu and James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 5 (October 2010)

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Okay, it’s Drake, Becky and Billjohn. Can’t believe I forgot Billjohn.

No real action this issue, not even during the last quarter, which means Bunn wasn’t establishing it as an regular formula the first few issues, it’s just how he played them.

Or maybe this issue, with General Hume raising a graveyard of zombies to attack our heroes, didn’t need the tension raised.

We get a lot of backstory this issue, including some backstory on new characters. Bunn introduces a new character–a black insurgent (I can never figure good terms for these things) who fought the Confederacy. I hate to be obvious, but it’s like Lando Calrissian shows up or something. And we get backstory on him. More than we’ve gotten on Drake–we’re hearing a lot more about him being a somewhat evil man, but it’s not a clear definition.

Bunn’s giving Sixth Gun a lot of depth.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, colorist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; editors, Charlie Chu and James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 4 (September 2010)

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The girl’s name is Becky. It’s mentioned twice this issue, so maybe I’m not the only one who was confused.

This issue is Bunn’s take an all action issue. There’s the main event, the bad guys against this huge, electrically charge bird monster. But Drake and his sidekick–who definitely has a name, but I’m not aware of it–have to get to the fight, which brings in some backstory. And then there’s the girl–sorry, Becky–getting to the fight too.

Some great artwork here. Hurtt’s not a guy you really except to do heart-stopping visuals–I love him, but he doesn’t tend to do the stupendous visuals. Well, except here, of course–he’s got this panel of the giant bird monster’s wings peeking out of a canyon and it’s just incredible.

The series just keeps getting better.

Bunn’s inventiveness in a presumably tried genre is constant pleasure.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, colorist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; editors, Charlie Chu and James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

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