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.

Dark Horse Presents 30 (June 1989)

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Oh, good, Race of Scorpions is back and just as incomprehensible as always. It turns out the mysterious stranger is really the brother of the evil emperor. There’s palace intrigue, an assassination attempt, machinations, it goes on. And it’s still awful. Maybe the writing’s a little better. Or it’s at least more understandable.

Luke and Norwood’s Project: Overkill is good. It’s a simple, Terminator thing, but Norwood’s art is excellent. Luke’s writing isn’t bad either, but it’s somewhat confusing. I don’t know if it’s an ongoing feature, but it might help it it is. Norwood is manga influenced, but it’s eighties manga. It’s really long too, but doesn’t feel it thanks to Norwood’s handling of action.

The Bob the Alien story is really short and amusing. Rice only has one real joke but it works out. It’s a shame Bob lost pages for more Scorpions.

Scorpions brings the book down.

CREDITS

Project: Overkill; story by Eric Luke; art by Phill Norwood; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Gets a Bike; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Race of Scorpions, Recollections and a Stabbing; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Laura Davis. 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.

Dark Horse Presents 25 (December 1988)

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Duranona has something like two action scenes this part of Race of Scorpions. Two completely incomprehensible action scenes. Did the editor see something different or did they really get this material in and think it’d look good? At least this installment doesn’t rip off Star Wars.

Speaking of incomprehensible, Davis is back with a new story–The Twilight of Langdarro. I guess he’s not so much incomprehensible just really, really boring. He loves writing exposition. He probably writes four hundred words a story of exposition. And he still hasn’t gotten any better at getting his people down. His faces and figures are still a mess.

The Homicide story–featuring some of Mahnke’s first work–wins best story of the issue by default. It’s barely a story–the lead characters go and get into a bar fight to protect an informant. Mahnke’s not particularly good.

The series’s back in its rut.

CREDITS

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

Dark Horse Presents 24 (November 1988)

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And here debuts the licensed property… Aliens. Luckily, it’s a really decent eight pages. Nelson and Verheiden almost make it feel like it’s just a comic book, not a movie tie-in. What’s really interesting is the aliens. Nelson’s able to draw so much fluidity into his own creatures, when he’s got to draw the movie alien, it feels awkward. The shape is defined by being able to be a costume worn by a person, a hampering Nelson doesn’t have with his own creations.

Duranona’s Race of Scorpions continues to be unimpressive. Some more Star Wars homage and a lot of details. The art, once again, makes it impossible to easily discern the content. And a lot of the writing is just silly.

Arcudi and Miehm’s Homicide is a good police procedural. Arcudi is weak on the cop chatter, but the mystery is good. Nice inks.

Geary’s Police Beat‘s fine.

CREDITS

Aliens; story and art by Mark A. Nelson; script by Mark Verheiden. Race of Scorpions; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Tim Harkins. Homicide, A Whiff of Madness; story by John Arcudi; art and lettering by Grant Miehm. Police Beat; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Edited by Randy Stradley.

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