With a title like Dark Horse Presents #7 – also it’s 200th issue – it’s difficult to summarise. After all, this issue has 80 pages of comics spread across various titles, writers and artists. You’re definately getting your money’s worth, but it also depends on how much of what’s inside is to your tastes.
The official description from Dark Horse:
In this 80-page, two hundredth issue of the multiple Eisner and Harvey Award–winning anthology, Mike Mignola revisits Hellboy’s time in Mexico with a follow-up to his story “The Coffin Man.” Fred Van Lente delivers a story about the telepathic cyborg gorilla Ape-X! Brendan McCarthy’s Dream Gang returns!
First up is Hellboy, written (of course) by Mike Mignola. While the story links back to a previous adventure, it’s still somewhat enjoyable and has the typical Hellboy charms, including the edgy pencils of Gabriel Ba and the striking, grim colors courtesy of Dave Stewart.
Secondly, we have Ape-X: Dirty Bad Science. As the name might suggest, this doesn’t take itself to seriously and Fred Van Lente rights into plenty of tropes and sources of humor as he can. In short, the title is played up well and written over the top, while Miguel Sepulveda’s pencils do the concept justice with Josan Gonzalez on color duties.
After this comes Semiautomagic Chapter 4. Alex De Campi writes a unqiue, action-packed script that, quite frankly, only really makes sense if you’ve been following from the start. Still, the retro-vibe artwork courtesy of Jerry Ordway, with similar colors from Marissa Louise, lends it a certain amount of charm.
Next is Sabertooth Swordsman: Double Date Disaster. This title is more about fun and slapstick, so much so that Damon Gentry offers very little in the way of words, letting the art team (Aaron Conley on pencils and Joseph Bergin III on colors) play it up in a cartoon-eqsue style.
This is followed by Murder Book: Point Taken. While Ed Brissan’s idea isn’t the most unique, it’s told well with a strong sense of character and dynamic between the two. That said, as much as I like the artwork by Michael Walsh, I would of liked a splash of color, perhaps.
After this is Mind MGMT: Honeymoon. I’m really not familiar with Mind MGMT and this comes across as one for the fans. Matt Kindt writes a very detailed story, but some may find it abstract. Likewise, Kindt lends his talents with his pencils, while Sharelene Kindt does some good work with some more vibrant color.
Following on from this is Dream Gang: Act 2 Chapter 1. This is another abstract or out-there issue, and I feel a previous reading would help immensely. Still, Brendan McCarthy is going for something different – both in his writing and art work – so it’s hard to criticise him too much.
Shortly after this is Groo the Wanderer: The Kids Who Would Be Kings Chapter 1. Despite the cartoonish appearance – courtesy of Sergio Aragones (pencils) and Tom Luth (colors) – writer Mark Evanier crafts a story that cleverly, yet simply, explores political aspects and problems. A surprisingly good read.
Furthermore, we also have Pino in “Mermaids”. Gustavo Duarte offers a simple tale, but it’s told well. With no words, Duarte’s art does all the talking – which is good, because it’s clean, simple and elegant. Perfect for a short story.
This is issue is, finally, rounded off with Masks. Gillian Flynn writes a dark, but satisfying script that quickly wraps itself up. Combined with Dave Gibbons’ pencils and Angus McKie’s colors, this is hard to ignore and a good way to round off a decent line-up.