Dark Horse Presents 55 (October 1991)

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Sin City is really bad this time. The amount of white space suggests Miller didn’t spend a lot of time drawing it. It also doesn’t seem like he spent much time writing it. Even with his terrible narration, this installment is a new low. Though I guess some of it does sound a lot like the Spirit movie narration, which doesn’t seem appropriate.

Johnson’s art is a little better on this installment of Earth Boys. He clearly worked at it more. But the story itself is still terribly written (by Biggers and Brooks).

Byrne continues his Next Men with a decent entry. It’s better than I expect from Byrne, but not as good as the first part. Especially not since he starts using a new character here with no introduction.

And Arcudi’s back to the crap with Homicide, Morrow or no Morrow. Decent last page reveal, but absolutely terrible dialogue.

CREDITS

Sin City, Episode Six; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. Earth Boys, The Big Schlep; story by Cliff Biggers and Brett Brooks; art by Dave Johnson; lettering by Pat Brosseau. The Next Men, Interlude II; story, art and lettering by John Byrne. Homicide, The Long Rode to Truth; story by John Arcudi; art by Gray Morrow; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 54 (September 1991)

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The big surprise this issue is Byrne’s Next Men. It’s actually pretty solid (though I think it features all four Byrne faces). The art’s great–nice flow of action–and the story’s intriguing. I think it’s the strongest narrative structure I’ve ever read from Byrne (though it might just be because it’s a prologue).

Geary’s got a few Transgression Hotline strips. They’re solid, amusing and unremarkable. Geary’s a professional though and they’re well-produced.

The Homicide closer from Morrow and Arcudi is fabulous. Morrow transforms the strip from Arcudi’s regular bore to something out of a film noir. During this installment, Arcudi even manages to insert something subtle, which I didn’t realize he was capable of doing.

Finally, Sin City. Miller uses almost this entire installment to promote violence, torture and cruelty. Wait, can you torture without cruelty? Anyway, he throws in some terrible dialogue and narration as a bonus.

CREDITS

Homicide, The Creep, Part Two; story by John Arcudi; art and lettering by Gray Morrow. The Next Men, Interlude; story, art and lettering by John Byrne. Transgression Hotline; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Sin City, Episode Five; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 53 (August 1991)

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It turns out all I need to like Homicide is a good artist. I think Arcudi fashioned the story to fit Morrow’s sensibilities, but it’s easily the best dialogue Arcudi’s written on the series. Morrow really shows how important an artist is in making a mediocre (at best) script work.

Geary’s got a single page again. It’s a little more profound than usual and not entirely successful.

Paley’s got a crazy cat strip and it’s simply lovely. She breaks the comic strips panels and lets loose this swash of ink. Even with Morrow in the issue, it’s the best art, just because she’s doing so much on each page. It’s a great comic.

Not great (or good) is the Biggers, Brooks and Johnson entry, Earth Boys. It’s two wasted pages.

As for Sin City? The only thing worse than a regular Sin City entry is one where Miller does filler.

CREDITS

Sin City, Episode Four; story and art by Frank Miller. Secret Places of My Shameful Past; story and art by Rick Geary. Kute Kitty Kartoon; story and art by Nina Paley. Earth Boys, Wheel to Power; story by Cliff Biggers, Brett Brooks and Dave Johnson; art by Johnson. Homicide, The Creep; story by John Arcudi; art and lettering by Gray Morrow. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 49 (March 1991)

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Geier’s art on the Homicide installment is pretty weak, but Arcudi actually comes up with an interesting case. It is, of course, unfortunate then Arcudi relies on the art for the final panel. I had to read the page three times, staring at it, before I noticed the big reveal. It’s also too bad about Arcudi’s lame dialogue.

Edginton writes a regular Downtown here. The holiday special was a lot better. It turns out the protagonist is a zombie private detective and he has all sorts of wacky adventures. The Pugh art is excellent at times, only good at others… but it can’t overcome the script. Too bad, I was looking forward to this one.

Harlequin, on the other hand, reveals itself to be completely excellent here. Csutoras makes excellent use of asides as he sets up this offbeat road trip. Gaudiano paces it well. It’s a very pleasant surprise.

CREDITS

Homicide, Restless Sleep; story by John Arcudi; art by Earl Geier. Downtown; story by Ian Edginton; inks by Steve Pugh. Harlequin, Act II; story by Stephen Csutoras; art by Stefano Gaudiano. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 48 (February 1991)

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Between Gaudiano and Pugh, this issue is just an art feast.

Csutoras’s writing on the Gaudiano story, Harlequin, is decent, concerning a European living in the States, his loony acquaintances and some intrigue. Gaudiano makes the protagonist’s monologues atmospheric and the regular action somewhat continental in feel. The narrative is intentionally confusing, which may get annoying. But for now, it’s a very solid entry.

Pugh and Edginton do Downtown, which is seemingly a British reprint. It’s hard to gauge as a series, since it’s not the first installment. It’s deals a little with the fourth wall and is very funny. They open with a Santa and his gangster reindeer and it just gets stranger from then on.

Arcudi’s Homicide is back, with Geier on art. It’s bad. Arcudi’s villain is an disfigured, abused child grown up since it makes for an easy bad guy.

Plus a nice Geary one pager.

CREDITS

Harlequin, Act I; story by Stephen Csutoras; art by Stefano Gaudiano. Downtown, A Nightmare on Elf Street!; story by Ian Edginton; art by Steve Pugh. Desperate Clergy; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Homicide, Tick; story by John Arcudi; art by Earl Geier. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 29 (May 1989)

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I remember when Homicide started it was all right. It finishes here (I hope) and Arcudi’s dialogue is so laughably bad, I can’t believe I ever had a nice thing to say about it. While my inclination is to pause and mock it, I think I’ll move on.

Murphy’s back with another prose story with some brief illustration. He tries for potential fiction here, like Borges sometimes does. Murphy’s no Borges and the whole thing feels like some kid in high school wrote it. The art isn’t special, so I assume he knew someone at Dark Horse.

Bob the Alien is the best yet, with a constant stream of faux pas. They start minor, with Bob acclimating to living with a human girl, but then they just go crazy. Rice gets in some great lines.

The Duckman strip closing the issue is funny enough (though it can’t compare to Bob).

CREDITS

Homicide, Blood Storm; story by John Arcudi; art by Doug Mahnke; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Pressed for Time; story and art by Andrew Murphy. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Moves In; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Duckman, The Mime Murders; story, art and lettering by Everett Peck. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 28 (March 1989)

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The Concrete story goes on forever. It has some of Chadwick’s better art in a while, but also some Liefeldian body mechanics. It’s metaphysical nonsense about the environment. These Concrete stories are best as time capsules–things haven’t gotten any better in the last twenty years.

Zone debuts this issue; Kraiger’s illustrating is fine. The story’s harmless and uninteresting. It seems like it’s going to follow in Concrete‘s footsteps in terms of passivity.

Hedden and McWeeney do a wordless Roachmill. Great art, mildly amusing story. The art’s what’s important here.

Gilbert and Beatty do a Mr. Monster story all about EC Comics and censorship. It’s incredibly well-intentioned but boring and poorly illustrated. The inks on these Mr. Monster stories are hideous.

Then there’s the Homicide. Arcudi… it’s… I don’t know where to start so it’s probably not worth talking about.

Oh, and lame Black Cross pages litter the issue.

CREDITS

Black Cross; story and art by Chris Warner. Concrete, Stay Tuned for Pearl Harbor; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Zone, Of a Feather; story, art and lettering by Michael Kraiger. Roachmill, The Terror of Canal St.; story, art and lettering by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney. Mr. Monster, Inklings; story and art by Michael T. Gilbert and Terry Beatty; lettering by Ken Bruzenak. Homicide; story by John Arcudi; art by Doug Mahnke; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 27 (February 1989)

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Duranona wraps up The Race of Scorpions here and threatens a second series. The story’s mostly nonsensical, partially due to the lack of perspective but mostly because of the writing. The conclusion relies on the reader being able to identify a character from the first chapter when he’s drawn in miniature. At least it’s over for now.

Homicide has gone off the deep end into sci-fi here. Arcudi doesn’t seem to realize how ludicrous and absurd his stories are getting, which makes them painful. I think Mahnke’s big influence here, in terms of figures, is Jaime Hernandez. I keep seeing Speedy in one of the protagonists.

Thankfully, this issue features a wonderful comedic story from Hedden and McWeeney. They’ve got these lush inks and it looks a little like Mike Ploog. It’s a fantastic story, mixing horror and sci-fi and romance. Their entry puts the others to shame.

CREDITS

Race of Scorpions; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by David Jackson. For Better or For Worse; story, art and lettering by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney. Homicide, A Gift of Life; story by John Arcudi; art by Doug Mahnke; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 26 (January 1989)

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Arcudi has sort of taken reality and chucked it out the window of Homicide. I mean, I assume he’s basing the story about the assassin who eats his victims’ eyes on a real case… but it’s not believable the same detectives who had the cannibal case are going to have this one. And he’s done nothing to give them any personality, it’s all caricature.

The Race of Scorpions, allegedly in its penultimate chapter here, is a little better than usual. The exposition does a better job establishing where the characters are situated in relation to each other and there’s no much action. Duranona’s still not using any shading, so the whole thing lacks any depth. It looks like pre-Renaissance line drawing. But, hey, better than usual and it’s almost done.

In The Twilight of Langdarro, Davis totally ignores showing the passage of time, making it confusing… but who cares?

CREDITS

The Twilight of Langdarro; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Race of Scorpions; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Tim Harkins. Homicide, Second Sight; story by John Arcudi; art by Doug Mahnke; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.

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