Dark Horse Presents #24 Review

It’s another jam-packed issue of Dark Horse Presents! Let’s get right to it:

Step into the darkness with the brand-new Dark Horse superhero Blackout, written by Frank Barbiere with art by Micah Kaneshiro! Get ready for sci-fi action with the return of Ron Randall’s Trekker! Take the case and save the world with Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal’s Hunter Quaid! Plus, new installments of Alabaster: Boxcar Tales, Nexus, Crime Does Not Pay, Brain Boy, King’s Road, Bloodhound, and Villain House!

“Alabaster: Boxcar Tales” is written by Caitlin R. Kiernan, with art by Steve LieberDan Jolley‘s “Bloodhound: Plain Sight” has pencils by Leonard Kirk. “Brain Boy” is written by Fred Van Lente, with art by Freddie Williams IIPeter Hogan writes and Phil Winslade draws “King’s Road: The Long Way Home.” “Crime Does Not Pay: City of Roses” is written by Phil Stanford and drawn and inked by Patric Reynolds. “Nexus: Into the Past” is written by Mike Baron, with art and lettering by Steve RudeMelissa Curtin draws and inks “Hunter Quaid.” Shannon Wheeler‘s “Villain House” concludes this month.

“Blackout” is probably the most intriguing story of the month, and not just because it’s shiny and new. Frank Barbiere gives an insider’s look at teleportation, and filling in the gaps in the characters backstory promises to be interesting. Micah Kaneshiro’s art is pleasantly reminiscent of Phil Noto‘s. (I don’t like to make qualitative comparisons between artists, but I feel it’s helpful here.)

“Brain Boy” gets even better this month, as Van Lente and Williams II are able to iron out the few wrinkles that it had last time. Van Lente pokes fun at customer service phone reps, and makes Lucky Charms cereal even creepier than it already was. Williams II continues to dazzle with the psychic effects.

Peter Hogan uses a very indirect method of exposition in “King’s Road: The Long Way Home.” Anything out of the ordinary in that regard is a pleasure. He and Phil Winslade orchestrate some beautiful, yet crucial, background elements, though the characters all seem too tall and thin.

Just when I thought I was understanding “Alabaster,” Kiernan throws me a curve. Describing the story as Kubrickian is an obvious and overly simplistic association, but it’s true nonetheless.

It’s disappointing that this second installment of Jolley and Kirk’s “Bloodhound” is also the second-to-last. The story takes an unsettling turn near the end of the chapter – it’s great. Kirk is supremely capable on pencils, though just a bit generic.

“Trekker: The Train to Avalon Bay,” by Ron Randall, feels a bit forced, storywise. I wish I had read the character’s previous appearance(s), in order to be more informed. The atmosphere of his backgrounds suggest this world is a familiar one, but not quite right.

Phil Stanford’s writing for “Crime Does Not Pay: City of Roses” is gritty and efficient, just like his characters. Patric Reynold’s art follows suit.

Baron and Rude’s “Nexus” has gone off the rails in terms of my ability to know where the story stands. (He goes back in time to meet a fictional character.) The story and, especially, the art both have a Silver Age feel.

Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal’s story for “Hunter Quaid” has me almost completely stumped, but Melissa Curtin’s pulpy art is nothing short of fantastic. The incorporation of the sound effects into the environment is particularly nice. That credit could belong to Lauren Affe, but given how embedded those particular letters are, I think it’s Curtin’s work.

Shannon Wheeler’s hilariously understated “Villain House” ends this month. As usual, the tale is stand-alone. It’s the most socially conscious story in the book, but the humor doesn’t get sidelined: he repeatedly lampoons the Fantastic Four.

DHP is always a treat, and issue #24 is no exception. You’re sure to find a story, a writer, an artist, that piques your interest.


 Zac Boone will probably die a violent death outside a Starbucks at 1 a.m. (He just needed to use the Wi-Fi.) Until then, follow him on twitter.

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