Dark Horse Presents 100 2 (August 1995)

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The opening Hellboy story has, just on the surface, one major problem. Hellboy wrote Abe a letter, the text of that letter is the story’s narration. Hellboy writes letters where he sounds like an expository narrator. How uninteresting. Then it turns out the story’s actually Hellboy’s secret origin (he’s the son of a demon and a nun). Should be interesting. Isn’t. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t have any dramatic oomph.

Campbell’s got a sort of creepy, sort of not Alec story. It’s well-done if somewhat pointless.

Apparently Dark Horse thought they needed some cartoonists in Presents so they get three. Pollock’s Devil Chef is stupid (being vulgar doesn’t make a comic strip good). Neither does ripping off Ed the Happy Clown like Musgrove does in Fat Dog Mendoza. Gregory’s Bitchy Bitch art isn’t good, but the writing works.

The issue ends on a sublime, lovely note with Pope.

CREDITS

Hellboy, The Chained Coffin; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Alec, The Snooter; story and art by Eddie Campbell. Devil Chef, The Shining; story and art by Jack Pollock. Fat Dog Mendoza, The Secret Life of Leftovers; story and art by Scott Musgrove. Bitchy Bitch, Dream On; story and art by Roberta Gregory. Yes; story and art by Paul Pope. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 99 (June 1995)

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Campbell finishes Doreen Grey here and it’s an awkward installment. It’s almost like he would have been better not resolving things. He’s got a lot of expositional dialogue here from the Eyeball Kid and it really just doesn’t work. It’s maybe his least successful Presents entry and story (the story gradually getting weaker over time).

Delano and Oakley have a weird, very long supernatural story. It’s convoluted and Delano doesn’t have an ending, even though it initially starts really strong. Oakley tries a lot of stylish stuff, but he never really just sits down and draws a compelling page.

Kabuki Kid finishes here too. Instead of going for humor, Rennie and Langridge go for one joke (the duo unknowingly interrupt a movie shoot) and a lot of action. I didn’t realize the sidekick was female.

Pekar’s one page piece, illustrated by Sacco, is kind of pointless. I mean, who cares?

CREDITS

The Crack; story by Jamie Delano; art by Shane Oakley; lettering by J. Robbins. Kabuki Kid, Part Four, Movie Madness!; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge; edited by Greg Vest. The Eyeball Kid, The Picture of Doreen Gray, Part Five; story and art by Eddie Campbell. My Mentor; story by Harvey Pekar; art and lettering by Joe Sacco. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 98 (June 1995)

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I’m tempted to mention Cooper’s one page strip first because it’s a page and I don’t really have anything to say about it. Oops, there I went and did.

Brubaker and Gaudiano finish up Here and Now. It’s got a bit of a surprise ending, which makes perfect sense, but for whatever reason (probably a combination of Gaudiano’s realistic illustrating and Brubaker’s occasional summary storytelling), it works perfectly. The story really deserves to be collected (though the private detective angle detracts in some ways).

Rennie and Langridge’s Kabuki Kid features a story about Japanese products and their dismissal of the human worker. I’ve read three of these stories and I can’t tell if they’re really supposed to be socialist propaganda or if it’s another joke.

Campbell’s Doreen Grey has a strange installment. There’s some great stuff, but it feels incomplete. I can’t believe Campbell can tie it up next issue.

CREDITS

The Eyeball Kid, The Picture of Doreen Gray, Part Five; story by Eddie Campbell; art by Eddie Campbell and Hayley Campbell. Kabuki Kid, Part Three, Assembly Line Apocalypse!; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge; edited by Greg Vest. Nude; story and art by Dave Cooper. Here and Now, Part Three; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Sean Konot. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 97 (May 1995)

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I wonder what Rennie’s Kabuki Kid scripts look like. This installment has a setup, introduces some villains, then it just goes wild. Langridge has the Kabuki Kid and his sidekick fighting an army of adversaries (though it does get weeded through fast). It’s funny and fast, even better than the first installment.

Schutz and Pander have three pages of filler set at a jazz club. Pander’s art’s good, but the entry’s pointless. Unless maybe it was a real place.

Then Brubaker and Gaudiano continue their dysfunctional private investigator in Here and Now. It’s an exceptionally depressing piece. I also wonder if it wouldn’t have been even more affecting to separate the two stories (the P.I. part and the dysfunctional family).

As for Campbell and Doreen Grey? This installment is even better, with Campbell sort of turning everything on its head. I love how he has characters discuss unlikely plot contrivances.

CREDITS

Kabuki Kid, Part Two, For a Few Noodles More!; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge; edited by Greg Vest. Tuesday Night at the Jazz Club; story by Diana Schutz; art by Arnold Pander; lettering by Sean Konot. Here and Now, Part Two; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Konot. The Eyeball Kid, The Picture of Doreen Gray, Part Four; story and art by Eddie Campbell. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 96 (April 1995)

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I’m not sure if Presents has ever had such a good issue. They may have… but this one’s rather excellent.

Brubaker and Gaudiano’s Here and Now is a detective story, but one with an introspective, lost in his thoughts not his cases detective. Gaudiano’s artwork is fantastic–it’s basically a guy walking around most of the story, but he makes it compelling. Brubaker’s writing narration for the first half, then introduces a bunch of plot. It’s great.

Rennie and Langridge’s Kabuki Kid is a strange sort of samurai comedy. I’m hesitant to say samurai because Rennie throws in some Chinese stereotypes too (but Langridge doesn’t into the art). It’s violent and funny, with Langridge making his seemingly static panels fluid.

Then Campbell’s excellent Doreen Grey continues with two minor surprises and one major one. Lots of character stuff–I almost thought the Eyeball Kid was going to get a girlfriend.

CREDITS

Here and Now, Part One; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Sean Konot. Kabuki Kid, Part One, A Pot Full of Noodles; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge; edited by Greg Vest. The Eyeball Kid, The Picture of Doreen Gray, Part Three; story by Eddie Campbell; art by Campbell and Peter Mullins. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 95 (March 1995)

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LaBan finishes Eno and Plum better than he started but not as good as the second installment. I think this one is the first I laughed out loud reading, but the story’s predictable and LaBan still doesn’t do anything to turn Plum into a character. Worse, he gives her these moronic thoughts. I’d say it’s him giving her character, but they’re so bland, it’s clear he’s just trying to fill blank space.

Campbell’s Picture of Doreen Grey continues–this time concentrating on a big battle scene and Joe Theseus and Ginny (an Amazon goddess, I think, much better character than Wonder Woman too) trying to be spontaneously romantic when he can read the future and they’re both immortal. Campbell again concentrates on the humor to good success.

I’m really hoping this issue is the last Too Much Coffee Man. Wheeler apparently thinks regurgitating “Seinfeld” as a comic makes him creative.

CREDITS

The Eyeball Kid, The Picture of Doreen Gray, Part Two; story, art and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Too Much Coffee Man, Too Much Coffee Man Meets His Coffee Maker, Part Four; story and art by Shannon Wheeler. Eno and Plum, Part Three; story and art by Terry LaBan. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 94 (February 1995)

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Okay, so the issue opens with Eddie Campbell doing an action story. It’s not all action, but there’s a bunch of action. It’s crazy—there’s a big fight scene. Campbell keeps all the humor and a lot of the thoughtfulness (he tones down the thoughtfulness a little) and adds a regular fight scene. It’s crazy and great.

Too Much Coffee Man also has a fight scene this issue, between the hero and an invader from Mars. Someone must have told Wheeler he’s funny and that someone was wrong. The installment even opens with Wheeler talking about his story being boring and pointless. Some nice art at least (except the fight scene, which is awful).

Surprisingly, as LaBan turns it into a workplace comedy, Eno and Plum gets good. It’s still a little broad—Plum, the girl, isn’t much of a character, though Eno gets actually depth here. An unexpected surprise.

CREDITS

The Eyeball Kid, The Picture of Doreen Gray, Part One; story, art and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Too Much Coffee Man, Too Much Coffee Man Meets His Coffee Maker, Part Three; story and art by Shannon Wheeler. Eno and Plum, Part Two; story and art by Terry LaBan. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 84 (April 1984)

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Let me try to think of something nice to say about Buoy 77‘s finale. Lopez is back to the weak art, so no compliment there. Boyd’s conclusion is all about how the white man ruins native peoples (I’m shocked they didn’t put in a prose notice of it), so not there either. All in all, it’s a waste of time. I’m surprised Boyd went for a lame, common point.

Barron and Barry have a humor strip–Judah–about a chili cook-off. Maybe it’s funny if you care about chili. I guess Barry’s art is fine for a way too long humor strip.

Swan and Talbot have a two page thing. Pointless, but nice art.

Hermes and the Eyeball Kid wrap up here. Campbell brings it all back to the fight, taking care of all his supporting characters quickly. Not the approach I expected, but it’s a good piece.

CREDITS

Judah “The Hammer”, Showdown at the Texas-Style Chili Corral; story by Mike Baron; art by Dan Barry; lettering by Gail Beckett. Buoy 77, Part Four; story by Robert Boyd; art by Francisco Solano López; lettering by Vickie Williams. Celtic Warrior; story by Lucy Swan; art by Brian Talbot. Hermes versus the Eyeball Kid, Part Nine; story by Eddie Campbell and Wes Kublick; art by Campbell, Peter Mullins and April Post; lettering by Campbell. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 83 (March 1994)

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Lloyd’s got a very well-illustrated story here. It’s a thriller–con artist out to murder his rich wife–told after the fact (guess what, the husband gets busted through a very Hitchcockian twist). The art’s more important than the story. Lloyd gets the tone perfect. If it were a longer piece, with more characterization, it might be more significant. As is, it’s just a fantastic little exercise.

Speaking of good art, Lopez finally improves on this installment of Buoy 77. It’s the same style, but he really gets more fluidity in his action here. It doesn’t hurt Boyd’s writing is stronger too. The writing approach is different from the second installment, more like the first (it’s no longer following one person in close third-person).

And Campbell’s wrapping up Hermes. Not as many awesome developments, just solid storytelling. The battle scene’s got some great panels this issue; very grandiose.

CREDITS

Lasting Impression; story and art by David Lloyd; lettering by Vickie Williams. Buoy 77, Part Three; story by Robert Boyd; art by Francisco Solano López; lettering by Williams. Hermes versus the Eyeball Kid, Part Eight; story by Eddie Campbell and Wes Kublick; art by Campbell, Peter Mullins and April Post; lettering by Campbell. Edited by Randy Stradley.

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