The best thing Dark Horse could have done was reformat this anthology. For a while there the last volume was wonderful and introduced me to new worlds, creators and stories that I couldn’t wait to further explore outside of its pages. Somewhere along the line though it became too big and instead of showcasing the best that Dark Horse had to offer, it instead became a home of stories that had nowhere else to go. Some of these stories were still great and interesting, but something that was once special and enjoyable, quickly became more of a chore. The newest volume is the perfect length and granted it means that there are not as many stories, but it also means that it’s a tighter package as well. The only downside being that it might take longer to find those new diamonds in the rough, but if it means a better issue each month and the continuation of the anthology... well that's a much better trade off in my opinion.
This debut issue is jammed packed with properties that are familiar and big names in the comic book industry. There’s also the return of some break out newcomers that Dark Horse has previously discovered making for a rich collection of old and new, but really all of it is new technically.
The first story is of course the duo from the cover. To be honest I’ve never read The Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot. I watched an episode of the cartoon once, but the voice acting was terrible and I couldn’t get over the fact that it had Bobby Hill’s voice for Rusty which only made it worse. The comic by Geof Darrow was pretty damn awesome. It was simple, but very funny and effective. I particularly enjoyed how Darrow managed to show Millennials in the future. If you're a fan of Darrow's art this is one you'll not want to miss.
David Mack brings his Kabuki series to the anthology. At this point you probably either like or dislike the series and I don’t have much to say about it other than that. It was a good read and didn’t feel out-of-place.
Then there was the return of Resident Alien. Boy was I glad to see this gem from Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. The timeline for the story is kind of in-between the two timelines we’ve been following and patches up some missing information on the series. It was a great read as per usual and looked wonderful as well.
One of the new series was Dream Gang from Brendon McCarthy. It could be interesting, but it was a little vague in this first chapter. The art is very trippy and reminded me of 80’s British comics for some reason. I liked this chapter, but I would definitely need more to decide its true quality.
Wrestling With Demons is another new story and comes from the writing duo of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. The art is by Andy Kuhn who is another familiar name in the comic biz. The story is about a father and daughter traveling to I assume Vegas for a fight that the dad is in. His daughter asks to stop at a tourist attraction and ends up getting lost and then captured. The dad finds out that there’s something else going on in this ghost town and it has a lot to do with the name of the series. I liked it a lot and can’t wait to see where it goes. It was definitely some of the best artwork I’ve seen from Kuhn as well.
The last tale is another chapter in the Sabertooth Swordsman franchise and if you read the first volume then you know what to expect and yes it’s still that great. What is different is that artist Aaron Conley’s artwork is now fully colored. This was a wise choice given the fact that the rest of the book is colored. While I’m a fan of Conley’s black and white work, the coloring from Joseph Bergin was a nice match though I'm still partial to the black and white myself.
There you have it. I didn’t expect to break down the entire issue, but I also didn’t want to leave anyone out. Overall it was an entertaining read and filled with creators that I wanted to see more of. I liked the mix and hopefully with the shorter format Dark Horse can keep each issue this tight and fantastic.
Creators: Geof Darrow, David Mack, Peter Hogan, Steve Parkhouse, Brendan McCarthy, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Andy Kuhn, Damon Gentry, Aaron Conley Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $4.99 Release Date: 8/20/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital