Dark Horse Presents 36 (February 1990)

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The Aliens vs. Predator story is most impressive for Norwood’s illustration… but not of aliens or Predators. The story opens on some alien world and it’s just breathtaking. Once the actual story starts (Stradley’s two conversationalists talking about hunting experiences while Predators hunt aliens), it can’t compete with those visuals. Still, for what amounts to shameless self-promotion, these prologues are very successful.

Davis’s Delia & Celia features a number of young women “playing” the two leads. Davis can’t maintain faces for them to the point he must have been photo-referencing. Each panel, they get a new, distinct face. The writing is nearly interesting this time… but Davis fumbles it.

This installment of Heartbreakers kind of makes the clone thing clear–there’s two groups of clones, one tough, one not as tough. But it’s not clear if they’re clones of the same person (just with different haircuts). It’s inoffensively mediocre.

CREDITS

Aliens vs. Predator; story by Randy Stradley; pencils by Phill Norwood; inks by Karl Story; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Heartbreakers, Ceiling Zero; story by Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan; art by Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. Delia & Celia, The Great Marsh; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 35 (December 1989)

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The Predator story opening the comic gets it off to a good start (it’s really just part of the prologue to the first Aliens vs. Predator series). Stradley writes an excellent conversation about social Darwinism between these two pilots, which Norwood then adapts into something featuring Predators fighting for dominance. Well, it was probably the reverse, right? Marvel style?

The first Heartbreakers story is mildly incomprehensible–it’s packed with detail, all about cloning, interoffice politics and the future. I like Guinan’s art, but I can’t tell if the soldiers are all supposed to be identical clones. His visual reference all seems to be Vietnam War, so it’s weird to see it as a future story.

The final story, from Inabinet, is this incredibly dense–there’s almost so much text it could just be prose–fable about the adventures of a Muslim scholar in the Middle Ages. Inabinet does masterful work.

CREDITS

Predator; story by Randy Stradley; pencils by Phill Norwood; inks by Karl Story; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Heartbreakers, Only Angels Have Wings; story by Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan; art by Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. A Tough Nut to Crack; story and art by Sam Inabinet; lettering by Karen Casey-Smith. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 34 (November 1989)

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Race of Scorpions gets even more amazing this issue… Duranona tells the reader what happens to the story’s protagonists in a little text paragraph at the end of the story. The actual story was spent on some supporting cast members. It’s sort of amazing how poorly plotted this story gets. Dark Horse really just didn’t care what they printed. Lots of perspective failures here. Just a dreadful read.

Zone is getting more dramatic–this issue the reporter gets hurt near a fire and Zone saves him, so all the threads are coming together. Unfortunately, Kraiger’s art, which was no great shakes to begin with, is weakening. His faces are poor here and there’s a lot of them because of the talking about the fire. But it’s not terrible.

Stradley and Norwood’s Aliens story is just a conversation over Norwood’s awesome artwork. It’s probably shouldn’t be effective, but it works well.

CREDITS

Aliens; story by Randy Stradley; pencils by Phill Norwood; inks by Karl Story; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Zone; story, art and lettering by Michael Kraiger. Race of Scorpions, By Water and Stone; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Laura Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 33 (September 1989)

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What can one say when the best story in the issue is the Mr. Monster… it just seems wrong.

Pollock’s Mike & Viv has a lame plot, a couple funny lines and decent art. A bickering couple gets stuck in the Cretaceous period. Dark Horse was picking from the bottom of the stack here.

Race of Scorpions is confusing, weakly written and Duranona isn’t pretending to use shadows. In other words, it’s the norm for the series. It has a incomprehensible cliffhanger this time too.

Zone‘s okay, with Kraiger tying together the previous story threads to imply something significant. However, he ends the issue with some kind of slapstick routine, ignoring all the social commentary he was doing in the rest of the pages.

Buniak, not Gilbert, does the majority of the Mr. Monster story. He’s funny and his artwork’s fantastic.

Kesel’s Nick ‘n’ Nora is weak, but the art’s competent.

C- 

CREDITS

Mike & Liv, Mike & Liv Go To Las Vegas; story, pencils and lettering by Jack Pollock; inks by Jorge Pacheco. Race of Scorpions, Eaten by the Earth; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Laura Davis. Zone; story, art and lettering by Michael Kraiger. Mr. Monster, The Movie; story by Michael T. Gilbert and Brian Buniak; art by Gilbert, Buniak and Donnie Marquez; lettering by Mike McCarthy and Ken Bruzenak. Nick ‘n’ Nora; story, art and lettering by Karl Kesel. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 32 (August 1989)

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Ugh, another “annual.” Sixty-four pages of Dark Horse Presents tends to be a little much.

The American is a little long here–it’s very passive and not at all dramatic. On the other hand, Peterson shows he used to be a lot more interesting of an artist.

The Wacky Squirrel strip from publisher Richardson is dumb.

Davis’s Delia & Celia is a complete bore, big shock. He manages to make a pterodactyl boring.

The longer than usual Bob the Alien just shows with more space Rice does an even better story. It’s funny and touching

The Concrete story is better than usual–Concrete’s jealous over girls–and Chadwick puts in three unanswered questions. Two are crime related, one personal. It works.

Bacchus is great. Campbell gets more into his eight pages than anyone ever has in one of these issues.

As usual, Zone is passable, Race of Scorpions is lame.

CREDITS

The American, My Dinner with the American; story by Mark Verheiden; pencils by Brandon Peterson; inks by Randy Emberlin; lettering by David Jackson. Wacky Squirrel; story by Mike Richardson; art by Jim Bradrick; lettering by David Jackson. Delia & Celia, Down, Down and Down; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Steppin’ Out; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Concrete, Visible Breath; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Bacchus, A God and His Dog; story, art and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Zone; story, art and lettering by Michael Kraiger. Race of Scorpions, The Rusty Soldier; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Laura Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 31 (July 1989)

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It’s a banner installment of Race of Scorpions. Two things I never thought would occur do this issue… first, Duranona uses shadows to give the reader some sense of depth. Well, only for half the story, but still. Second, he comes up with an interesting detail! In this miserable future, cookbooks are bibles. I’m stunned by these developments.

The Zone story is on the low side of okay. Kraiger spends too much time on the boring Zone character (before he douses some guy in toxic waste or something, which is funny). But the art’s good and the plotting is decent. Kraiger has some sense of what he’s doing here.

Rice’s Bob the Alien story is awesome, as usual. Here Bob encounters deception, but still manages to come out ahead. Lots of laughs, great progression of narrative.

The Duckman story is only a page long and I don’t really understand it.

CREDITS

Race of Scorpions, The Alley Where Sorrows End; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Laura Davis. Zone; story, art and lettering by Michael Kraiger. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, is Swindled; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Duckman, Duckman’s in a Snit Today; story, art and lettering by Everett Peck. Edited by Randy Stradley.

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