Comic Review: The Witcher, Vol. 1: House of Glass

Published: October 7th, 2014
Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Joe Querio, Mike Mignola (cover)
Based on: The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski

Dark Horse Comics, 137 Pages

Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Witcher comic book but I’m glad that this didn’t disappoint and was a pretty cool read.

While the cover was done by Mike Mignola, the interior art was not. However, it does have the same sort of vibes even if it is less stylized.

The story here was enjoyable and there’s a mystery to be solved. While things aren’t what they seem, the story isn’t predictable and the ending is pretty satisfactory.

Most of the story takes place in and around a haunted house but there are a few characters that come into this tale, as well as some neat monsters, many of which you’ll recognize from The Witcher games.

The story here was interesting and well written with fairly rich and well developed characters that you end up caring about.

All in all, if you are a fan of the franchise, this is definitely worth your time.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other Witcher comics.

Comic Review: Conan Chronicles – Epic Collection IV: The Battle of Shamla Pass

Published: January 14th, 2020
Written by: Benjamin Truman, Tim Truman
Art by: Joe Kubert, various
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Dark Horse Comics, Marvel (reprinted), 464 Pages

Review:

These massive collections are kind of pricey, which up to this point was fine. But this one is probably my jumping off point, as it was such a big step down from the previous three Epic Collection releases Marvel has put.

These beefy trade paperbacks cover the span of Conan stories while they were being produced and published by Dark Horse after the original Marvel runs. Well, now that Conan is back at Marvel, they’re releasing two-to-three of these per year to fill in the void.

I guess the stories in this volume weren’t all that bad but the art was a big departure from what I had come to expect with the other volumes.

Additionally, the art was a mixed bag with contrasting styles that changed too often and just sort of made this collection feel really disjointed, where the others felt cohesive, uniform and consistent.

In fact, I’d say that this one made me appreciate the early volumes that much more.

I guess if you’re a Conan completist and you want all of these, have at it. For me, I’ll have to look through the next one before I just outright buy it.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other Conan comics from the Dark Horse era.

Comic Review: Michael Allred’s Madman, Vol. 3

Published: May 5th, 2010
Written by: Mike Allred
Art by: Mike Allred, Laura Allred

Dark Horse, Image Comics (reprint), 260 Pages

Review:

I love the style of Mike Allred’s art and I also dig his style of humor.

However, by this point, I felt like this series had ran its course for me.

It was amusing and fun but it’s honestly more of the same and I didn’t feel as if the series was building towards anything worthwhile.

Sure, there are some things that link into a bigger arc but this felt more episodic and kind of aimless.

Overall, it’s a solid looking, fun comic. And I’m probably being harsher than it deserves but while reading this, I realized that my brain’s interest in it was out of gas.

If you are a massive fan of the series, you’ll probably like this. I liked the first two volumes but as I flipped each page, I just thought to myself, “Yeah, yeah… I got it.”

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: the other early Madman collections, as well as SCUD: The Disposable Assassin, the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics and The Goon.

Comic Review: Michael Allred’s Madman, Vol. 2

Published: March 11th, 2009
Written by: Mike Allred, Frank Miller
Art by: Mike Allred, Laura Allred

Dark Horse, Image Comics (reprint), 323 Pages

Review:

Michael Allred created something special, unique, quirky and cool with Madman. And since I own a lot of the floppies from the earliest issues, I’ve wanted to revisit them from the beginning. While I don’t have them all, I did pick up the collected editions during a sale on Comixology.

I really enjoyed the first volume, so I figured that reading the second one was long overdue.

This sort of picks up where that one left off and this collection covers multiple story arcs but everything here happens in order and builds off of the constantly evolving narrative.

These issues came out once the series moved from Tundra to Dark Horse. What’s cool about that is that this was able to have a cameo by Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. It’s really neat seeing the two characters come together, even though it just happens in one issue and is short-lived. I’m not sure if this series has anymore minor crossovers in the following volumes but I liked seeing Allred and Mignola’s universes overlap, even if it was just briefly.

The art in this one feels more crisp and more polished. The first volume was initially in black and white but this one comes to life with incredibly vibrant colors that just work so well with the line art and give this a cool, pulpy look that made it stand out from what was the norm in the ’90s when this was originally produced. That’s really what made me take notice of the original floppy copies back then.

In the end, this expands the mythos and made me love this world even more. This series is hilarious and strange in the best way possible.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the other early Madman collections, as well as SCUD: The Disposable Assassin, the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics and The Goon.

Vids I Dig 379: Comic Tropes: Donny Cates: Writing About Addiction

From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: Donny Cates is an up and coming young writer at Marvel Comics, writing Venom, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy and more. This video takes a look at his history interning at Marvel, studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and getting his work published at Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics as he broke in. Specifically, this video analyzes the themes Donny Cates writes about which include father issues and addiction issues.

Comic Review: Hellboy In Mexico

Published: April 26th, 2016
Written by: Mike Mignola
Art by: Mike Mignola, various

Dark Horse, 151 Pages

Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this trade paperback but I like Hellboy and I like stories that take place in Mexico. Add in some lucha libre elements and I’m definitely sold!

This is an anthology collection of short stories that cover a five month period where Hellboy was in Mexico.

Overall, each chapter is a pretty cool and amusing tale. We see our hero enter the lucha libre world, as well as battling all sorts of supernatural monsters.

You don’t really need to read this in any sort of order with the regular series of titles, as it sort of happens on the side. But for fans of the series, this is certainly worth a look, as it features that great Mike Mignola art and writing style and the setting makes this a pretty unique and refreshing read within the larger Hellboy tapestry.

This did fly by though, at just 151 pages, and it made me wish that there were more Hellboy in Mexico stories to tell or that some of these would’ve been expanded upon more.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Hellboy comics.

Comic Review: Concrete, Vol. 1: Depths

Published: August 9th, 2005
Written by: Paul Chadwick
Art by: Paul Chadwick

Dark Horse, 210 Pages

Review:

A character in this comic spoke the line, “Hasn’t the world shrunk too much to allow such romanticism?”

That’s a good question. However, what’s even more telling is that this story was originally published in 1987, years before the Internet made the world even smaller.

Point being, Concrete is a very thought provoking and introspective comic series, the bulk of which is the author putting himself into the shoes of the character, a man that has been transformed into a giant rock solid humanoid. I guess he’s similar to Marvel’s The Thing but these aren’t superhero comics and are actually more about human drama with some comedy bits worked in.

Sure, this is science fiction but most of that is just there to explain the origin of “Concrete” and to showcase how the government feels the necessity to constantly run tests on him in an effort to figure out what exactly he is and if he can be beneficial to them in some way.

All the stories collected here are very human and they feel very personal. Honestly, this was a really endearing and refreshing read.

What also makes it work so well is the art, which is pretty soothing and calming. The style helps the reader slide into the mind of the title character, sharing his sort of inner softness and innocent view of the larger world outside of his rock hard body, which acts as a true physical barrier between him and the rest of the living world.

Concrete is a hard comic to describe and frankly, I just think that people should read it. It’s unique but it’s also emotional and sweet.

This first collection was a strangely enchanting read that makes me want to pick up the other volumes. I’ve owned the first three series in their original single issue format for years. I’ve always been attracted to the art but I really missed out on not reading them sooner.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other off-beat indie comics of the same era: Cerebus, Madman, Bone, etc.

Vids I Dig 184: For the Love of Comics: ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’: The Gallery Edition – Making a Masterpiece

From For the Love of Comics’ YouTube description: Dark Horse Comics’ Gallery Edition of Lone Wolf and Cub, the classic manga from Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, is a marvelous showcase of the tremendous craft and composition of the series. By presenting over 150 pages of original art reproduced in the original size and ‘colours’, this large edition celebrates the making of a comics masterpiece. This video features a close look at this book, along with a commentary and analysis on how not just fans but newcomers would be well served by the almost-unspoken thesis here: this was no accident; panel by panel over 8000 pages, Koike and Gojima crafted a lyrical, sorrowful, and cinematic comics epic. This includes a major-spoiler-filled look at the final chapter of this saga, reproduced in the Gallery Edition in its entirety.

Comic Review: Joe Golem: Occult Detective, Vol. 2: The Outer Dark

Published: June 5th, 2018
Written by: Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola
Art by: Patric Reynolds, Dave Stewart

Dark Horse, 137 Pages

Review:

Overall, I’d have to say that this chapter in the Joe Golem series is pretty consistent with the first.

This comic book has several things I love in it and while I do enjoy it, I’m not digging it as much as I had hoped. Still, this is kind of cool and unlike just about everything else on the comic store shelf.

The story here follows a new case but looking at the bigger picture, it reveals more about the main character, as well as his dream-state flashbacks.

What’s strange, is that I find the flashbacks to be more interesting than the main stories in this series. I want to know what the visions means and how they are going to play out.

Sadly, the cases the detective works kind of get in the way of the parts of the story I enjoy more.

That being said, this is a cool, original idea and despite not being fully on board with it, it’s better written than most comics in the modern era.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Joe Golem comics, as well as Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and B.P.R.D. series.

Comic Review: Frank Miller’s Sin City, Vol. 2: A Dame to Kill For

Published: 1993-1994
Written by: Frank Miller
Art by: Frank Miller

Dark Horse, 212 Pages

Review:

Well, damn…

I guess this is an example of Frank Miller’s consistency being an issue with me. I didn’t think it started this far back but after digging the first Sin City story, this one missed its mark, fell flat and if I’m being honest, was a total let down.

There are five more volumes after this one but A Dame to Kill For took the wind out of my sails and I’m not too enthused about continuing on.

The strange thing is that I can’t really peg why this story didn’t resonate with me like the previous one. It just felt like it rehashed some things and grasped on to some tropes too hard. But they really shouldn’t be tropes just after one story but I’m assuming this relying too heavily on familiarity is going to be an issue in the other stories as well.

Compared to the first book this was also kind of boring and became so overloaded with characters it was hard to remember who was who and what the hell was happening. This just felt like a convoluted mess.

The art style is the same as the first story but it actually feels less refined here and it almost looks rushed.

I don’t want to come off as an asshole and completely shit on this book but I’ve got to call a turd a turd.

It barely held my attention, it nearly put me to sleep and it was hard to look at where the original story looked much better in regards to the art.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: the other collected volumes of Sin City.