Dark Horse Presents 46 (November 1990)


You know, the Aliens stories in Dark Horse Presents, for whatever reason, never bugged me. However, this Predator standalone… it’s really out of place. Maybe it’s because Arcudi’s writing is so lame (he does have a good twist, but Walton’s art makes it hard to appreciate as everyone looks the same). It’s not so much bad, just really lame.

Harris’s Crash Ryan is just getting better. He does a bunch of action (and gets two story slots in this issue) and then has a fantastic reveal. He mixes the awkward politics–it’s pro-worker, but anti-Soviet and anti-Nazi. Awesome conclusion has American big business getting in bed (albeit unknowingly) with Hitler….

The Bacchus story is the origin story. Dark Horse really owes Campbell–Bacchus has added a legitimacy to Dark Horse Presents. The retelling’s great, mixing periods and tones. It’s an essential history lesson (of an inessential subject).


Predator; story by John Arcudi; pencils and lettering by Rob Walton; inks by Armando Gil. Crash Ryan; story and art by Ron Harris. Bacchus, Defining the Divine; story and art by Eddie Campbell and Wes Kublick. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 45 (November 1990)


While the letters page informs me Wagner’s Aerialist isn’t homophobic, but then I wonder why I haven’t seen any comics in Dark Horse Presents where a guy forces a woman to have sex to degrade her. Because the story ends with the boyfriend of the protagonist forcing himself on him (after the protagonist was off having a clandestine meeting with a beautiful woman). A great sociological mind, Wagner is not.

Crash Davis is a lot of fun, even though the Soviets are now backing the American sky pirates. Harris’s approach seems to be a thirties serial, only with some modern sensibilities. Harris also includes the workers’ plight.

I can’t believe John Byrne never pushed DC to sue over Spivey and Mielcarek’s entry. It’s Superman crapping on Lana because he’s with Lois, done in Man of Steel‘s style. Hard to say what’s worse–Spivey’s amateurish, fanfic writing or Mielcarek’s awful art.


The Aerialist, Part Two; story and art by Matt Wagner; lettering by Kevin Cunningham. Crash Ryan; story and art by Ron Harris. Pilgrim Souls; story by Jim Spivey; art by Vince Mielcarek; lettering by Steve Alexandrov. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 44 (September 1990)


Harris’s Crash Ryan takes place in some kind of alternate 1930s, where America is under attack from some homegrown sky pirate organization called Doom. It’d competently done, but sort of too soon to tell how it’s going to work out. It’s not, you know, guys in tights, but it’s traditional mainstream fare.

Then it’s Geary’s nice little story about some guy’s family and their ailments. Geary has a nice way of doing little stories; this type of story is often attempted in Dark Horse Presents and they usually fail. Geary doesn’t.

The Bacchus entry is about an unknown Greek god. It’s the first time Campbell’s Bacchus art has really impressed me, maybe because this story’s set mostly during the day. It’s amazing how he sets out retelling of a myth and makes it dynamic reading experience.

Sheldon contributes a series of well-illustrated pages and text contrived to bond them.


Crash Ryan; story and art by Ron Harris. Lower Broadway; story, art and letters by Rick Geary. Bacchus, The Unknown God; story and art by Eddie Campbell. First Love; story and art by Monty Sheldon. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 43 (August 1990)


Guinan’s Aliens finish is incredibly weak, featuring not just an Alien reference but some guy in the future running around in an Indiana Jones outfit. The plotting is so weak, it might be construed as a spoof… But I think Guinan’s serious. He’s got some very profound-sounding exposition.

Davis does a one page riff on 2001. It’s the best work of his I’ve seen.

Inabinet has a great retelling of a fable. The writing and art are fantastic. But even better is his opening, where he does a bunch of humor in a traditional–very traditional–setting. Inabinet makes the issue, him and that one page Davis strip.

Zick painfully finishes his Argosy story. Apparently, it’s all a setup for a sequel, but hopefully I’ll be spared. Zick somehow manages to find even more characters to introduce in the final installment. Important ones. At least it’s over (for now).


Aliens, Terminus; story and art by Paul Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. The Dawn of Angst; story and art by Gary Davis. The Tale of Yakub and the Vulture; story and art by Sam Inabinet. The Argosy; story and art by Bruce Zick; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.

The Immortal Iron Fist 15 (July 2008)


Fraction does another of those untold tales of a previous Iron Fist stories this issue and it works pretty well. He’s got a lot to get in here–he has to establish the Iron Fist (this one uses the power to expand his tactical thinking), set the ground situation (he’s fighting the British in China in the 1700s or thereabouts) and then come up with a plot.

The plot’s unexpected–it’s a lot more DC than Marvel, with an impotent Iron Fist teaming with a similarly afflicted Indian hero as they quest for freedom and glory. Well, maybe not glory, they’re off to rescue someone.

Along the way, they run into a third similarly powered individual.

Fraction does a great job expanding the mythology here. He even manages to avoid any of those Star Wars references he so loves.

Evans’s artwork is good (if a little glossy).

A fine issue.


The Story of Iron Fist Bei Bang-Wen (1827-1860); writer, Matt Fraction; penciller, Khari Evans; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorists, Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic and Paul Mounts; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 42 (July 1990)


So Guinan’s approach to the Aliens mythology is astonishingly unenthusiastic. By some accounts his Heartbreakers collaborator Anina Bennett assisted on the writing, so maybe some of it is her fault. Guinan sets the story on a planet full of pyramids, with zero wonderment about this awesome alien civilization. Then he does some silly stuff with androids and cyborgs. I suppose to art is decent, but I’m still not sure if the protagonist is supposed to be male or female.

Vance and Burr’s Kings in Disguise is a very solid Depression-era story. Burr’s art is good and Vance manages to tell the story without being too self-aware. It’s filled with quiet moments, a couple so quiet I needed to go back and reread.

Zick’s Argosy threatens to finish next issue, which will be amusing since this installment is all setup for a lengthy narrative. It’s a particularly tiresome read.


Aliens, Advent; story and art by Paul Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. Kings in Disguise; story by James Vance; art by Dan Burr. The Argosy; story and art by Bruce Zick; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.

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