Sirk TV Comic Review: DH SINGLE ISSUES – 12/16/15 [Dark Horse]
The didactic differences of tone and flavor lean dark in many of the following single issues including an almost short film structure of “DH Presents”. The key is trying to balance abstract with an identity whether it functions with a character or with a general feeling vs story.
Dragon Age: Mage Killers #1 The idea of mercenaries to take out mercenaries makes a lot of sense. The balance can come in the form of love and protection and what it motivates a character in comparison to the guilt it creates in this type of intimacy and brutality. The couple per se here are Tessa and Marius. He is the strong type who kills because he needs to but it is Tessa that makes the ideal work. Her talking to herself and her great quips that are ironic to the violent situation at hand makes it work. The period setting with this tone is always tricky, especially if it is transmuted into film form (like “Van Helsing”) but as far as being purely episodic, there is a definitely verve and energy which is enhanced by the coloring which takes earthen hues and gives them edge while not losing the fluidity of reading.
The Rook #3 The perils of losing yourself in time can lead to all kind of maniacal schizophrenia. Our hero, probably unaware of the amount of time jumps he has committed, seems out of sorts meeting Quarb, an almost Dracula-like figure, who neither know when or might become. This kind of double speak seems to be a prelude to an action until they come upon Restin who is being pursued by cavelike women who are prodding him to tenderize him for studding. Ultimately our hero is able to be brought back to the present by what apparently is HG Wells’ robot and his time machine. Quarb provides most of the humor in this instance since he seems a god to people while Restin is utterly melancholy because of a pain not yet known. The art meanders in the gray with a bit of Twilight Zone luridness making its way into the monsters.
Eve: Valkyrie #3 The intention of the underlying tendencies involving a clone defense project tends to work well here. A team of self replacing humanoids who reset every time one of their models is killed is an interesting story mechanism which was explored to specific need in “Moon”. It becomes about the perception and necessity of mortality when nothing is to be lost. However when this lunar defense team is attacked by a hostile force looking to grab their technology, the hate seems ill guided until it is revealed that lead attacker is an older clone of the female commander…but this clone can never regenerate. The issue ends with them in an intensive face to face combat. The tension and the visceral coloring of the space engagements really propel this issue and the character structure is vivid making you want to see what happens next.
Dark Horse Presents #17 What definitely comes through when dealing with anthologies inside a story structure is how quick a story can grab you and why. “Weird Science” practiced this form with distinctively positive and consistently results in the 50s. In the modern day, some ideas and concepts fall short because they are simply done for a visual motif or to twist a genre with a full formed endgame. Another issue is actually making the narrative too complicated for a short story. Some fall short while others find an insistent energy right away. In this collection, the ones with possibility come clear but more for their art influenced fluidity. “Semi Automagic – Throne Of Blood” does this and more without the necessity of a simple through line. It simply shows a girl being swallowed by a monster who then battles him from inside. The notion of the rebirth is full of metaphor and the mythology it provides is all delivered within a few short pages. Another: “The Suit – Contract Negotiation” also provides an interesting dynamic, not unlike “The Matrix” but without the overarching sci-fi by understanding that the set up can actually be the pay off.
Plants Vs Zombies #7 The bubble gum pop nature of this title allows for a lightness and enjoyment of read. There is no high overarching necessities of story…the most consistent element being just a bit of zombie humor with the chanting of “brains” being the operative word of sorts. The story has Super Mario Kart zippiness to it with the aloofness of “The Cannonball Run” but G rated. The lead zombie, much like the smart Gremlin in “Gremlins 2”, wants to help gain superiority for his kind while still using the strength and exploiting the tendencies of his fellow mindless. And like in “Despicable Me”, these minions of his are the cornerstone of the comics’ engagement because they are both all of us and none of us. What gives them a run for their money is their human competitors led by a man named Uncle, who has a penchant for basicality much like the similar Uncle Grandpa. With a pot on his head, his hi jinks seem almost weirder than the zombie which makes the dynamic work. He too is an every man. This way…no matter which side you are on, wins.
Death Head #5 The idea here presented in three intertwining stories is a little less cohesive because it approaches a manner of mortality but from distinctly different points of view. This narrative device can be very effective if the requisite tales can dovetail enough into each other. The success here is a little meandering. Whether the perspective is from the losing of a lover or the childhood innocence of a life gone too soon, the intent has a good emotional tinge but not enough to sell it. The third story in the mix follows the essence of these reaper like entities watching affecting these accidents with an old man seemingly cursed making their masks. While it is definitely a different approach to structure, the art itself too seems a little misguided despite an appreciation for it moving away from the norm.
The Steam Man #3 The idea of steampunk is always one of great design depending on its perspective. The mix here is almost using Gundam-style robotics with an Old West motif. The drawback in mixing these two arenas in a sense of adventure is that one tends to think of “Wild Wild West” and “Cowboys Vs. Aliens” which, as comics, did well but failed in their cinematic translations. The greatness in these stories is keeping with the purity of single graphics frames. The story and the art here works to a point if because it based in the notion of a team which always seemed to be the better narrative structure. As much as the isolation of “Evangelion” is a motif, the structure of something like “Voltron” always had a better leg to stand on. In this story, a big steam man (operated by the team) suffers and crashes as it is lumbering through the forest. Most of this issue’s narrative becomes a tale of ingenuity to get him back up and the requisite humor, however politically correct (especially from the Native American) that motivates the scenes. That progression above all is the most interesting…but when a so called “wicker man” comes along to battle, the narrative loses some of its reserve. It becomes a fight of the week which is infinitely less interesting
By Tim Wassberg
Posted on December 14, 2015, in Other Reviews and tagged cable television, college television, Dark Horse Comics, Dark Horse Presents, Death Head, Dragon Age, Dragon Age: Mage Killers, Eve: Valkyrie, Plants Vs Zombies, Sirk TV, The Rook, The Steam Man, tim wassberg, tv colleges. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.