How can you not like this monthly anthology? Or any anthology really, but in particular Dark Horse manages to produce a high quality and interesting anthology month in and month out. Sure a lot of the books manage to get collected in to one-shots at the end or even do well enough to get a continuation outside of the series, but there is cohesiveness to the production. The issue kicks off with the cover story Black Out written by Frank Barbiere and art from Micah Kaneshiro. I was pleased to see Kaneshiro’s art again; I really dug his work on Broken Pieces. The story dumps you into the scene with our costumed man in black running from a bunch of security guards. He charges something up and creates a black hole to go into as the guards stare in disbelief. He pops out and takes care of a few of the guards which is kind of jacked since he can easily slip away and the guards are really clueless idiots. After his scuffle he figures out that when he’s in his subspace/black hole area he can run through stuff and makes his way to where he wants to go… only to have a gun pulled on him. I liked the story, but I’ll definitely need to stick around and read more. There’s not a lot to go off of and since it’s just starting and asking you to catch up (which I like) it means that you have no backstory. It’s a good start and I’m looking forward to more.
I’m going to briefly talk about Alabaster “Boxcar Tales” since it blew my mind. Actually that’s all I’m going to say. I’m confused and my entire world may have been flipped upside down and it’s cool either way. I’ll just say “Damn.”
The second chapter of Bloodhound from Dan Jolley and Leonard Kirk was very good. Clev figures out that the killer is invisible, but still has a physical body. He inspects one of the victims and discovers that there’s a bruise on the back of his neck which leads them to an inventor that’s working on a device that shoots medicine into the skin (like Star Trek). Basically the killer has been running around shooting air into people’s necks and killing them. It’s a pretty awesome story and I like how Clev’s mind works. It’s interesting to see how he connects the dots and it really makes me want to go back and read the first volume again.
I’ll be honest; I didn’t like Brain Boy in the last issue. This time however, Van Lente and Williams II got me. Brain Boy calls his handlers to inform them about the situation of gun men storming the hotel to kill everyone and kidnap the President. A call center literally answers and begins going through a script to instruct him and it’s quite funny. He decides he doesn’t like their answer though and actually chooses a course of action. Like I said, I wasn’t sold on this story, but now I’m enjoying it. Williams II’s art is always good so there’s that as well.
Trekker from Ron Randall premieres in this issue. It’s an interesting story as it has this classic comic feel to it, but still manages to fit the modern era. You can tell it has a history and due to the way its set up it reminded me a lot of Mister X. The story follows our Trekker as she hunts a bounty. In the year 2226, Trekker’s are bounty hunters and they basically take the jobs that the police can’t solve. After completing a job Mercy is dragged on vacation by her friend Molly, but as they’re boarding the train she spots a man being escorted by two Feds. She’s worried that their obvious nature will make it easy to spot them to others and spell trouble for the train. It was a good story and Randall’s art is killer. It’s very photorealistic and Mercy is glamorous and reminded me a little bit of Milo Manara mixed with Dave Stevens.
Usually I don’t do this, but I really feel like cover all of the stories I can so let’s continue.
Next up is King’s Road which was the Peter Hogan and Phil Winslade joint from the last issue. The story picks up in a High school P.E. class with the daughter of the family we previously meet. She’s shooting arrows (of course) as class wraps up. As she’s heading inside her mom calls and tells her to pick up her brother and take him to dinner and a movie, she protests at first like all teens do. Her mom tells her that her uncle is dead and that wins her over, the problem is… she didn’t know she had an Uncle. This is a very cool story and I like where it’s going. The art has a great look to it and it’s really the perfect fit.
After that is “City of Roses” which is from the Crime Does not Pay series. It’s a pretty general story about crooked cops and drug deals. You’ll weep for society knowing that this series is likely a more accurate reflection of society than it is fiction.
Part two of Nexus “Into the Past” beings our slope to the end of the anthology. Nexus consorts with… I don’t know. Whatever it is, they’re huge and they have a similar costume to Nexus. They discus time travel the creature milks the energy from a red dwarf star to send Nexus back in time to stop his killer. When he lands he spooks everyone by flying around and then he visits Sherlock Holmes. It’s a fun tale and I’m digging the direction it’s going in. Rude’s art is great.
I don’t know if this is Hunter Quaid’s first appearance or what, but I loved it. He’s on the trail of a missing husband and he’s tracking someone through the sewer system. When he gets to the end it’s not what he was expecting to say the least, but in a strange way he didn’t expect any less either. It was quite humorous and Quaid is a physical character that punishes his body, but always wins in the end. It was a fun story with great artwork.
They saved the best for last as my personal favorite Villain House returns from Shannon Wheeler. The story is called “Blind Mole-Rat King” and it’s about a super powered family of “Four” that decide that the Blind Mole-Rat King is a communist and evil. He’s organized all of the blind mole-rat people and basically just wants to be left alone. The fantastic family arrives and removes him from power and put a democracy in place, after a vote they go to war with the surface mostly because they all look the same and no one knew who the hell they were voting for. It’s so fucking funny. You’ll seriously never look at the Fantastic Four again in the same way. It of course has Wheeler’s twisted ending to it, but really it’s a great statement about what makes a villain and a lot of it boils down to how they look in comics and nothing more. Great story and this really does continue to be my favorite story in the anthology.
There you have it. All of the stories covered so you shouldn’t have any questions about what to read and enjoy when you pick up the anthology. Also, for as much as I’ve said, I’ve left plenty out of each story for you to read and enjoy.
Writers: Frank Barbiere, Cailtin R. Kieman, Dan Jolley, Fred Van Lente, Ron Randall, Peter Hogan, Phil Stanford, Mike Baron, Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal, Shannon Wheeler Artists: (In reverse order) Shannon Wheeler, Melissa Curtin, Steve Rude, Patric Reynolds, Phil Winslade, Ron Randall, Freddie Williams II, Leonard Kirk, Steve Lieber, Micah Kaneshiro Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $7.99 Release Date: 5/22/13