Dark Horse Presents 124 (August 1997)

It’s a strange issue.

First is Seagle and Rouleau’s take on Predator, which might be the most harmless Predator story ever. Three boys camping out in one’s backyard go into the nearby swamp and see a Predator. Rouleau’s art is charming, the writing’s decent… still, it’s a Predator story. It can only be so good.

Then Lewis has a long story about two adopted kids and their tragic misadventures. The root of the problem is their choice in gifts at their first Christmas after being adopted. Lewis’s cartooning does well, but his writing is the real success. He manages to cover three years in a short story, getting in everything important to the characters. It’s an excellent piece of work.

Pander and Zero Boy bring Jack Zero closer to the end. It’s good, with an emphasis on Jack’s friendship with his married love interest’s daughter. Just hope it finishes well.


Predator, Bump in the Night; story by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau; pencils by Rouleau; inks by Jim Royal; lettering by Sean Konot. Outside, Inside (A Constructive Tragedy); story and art by Jon Lewis; lettering by Dave Cooper. Jack Zero, Part Four; story by Arnold Pander and Zero Boy; art by Pander; lettered by John Costanza. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 119 (March 1997)

194829.jpgI’m not sure what Nixey’s Trout is about or if it’s going to be about the events of this installment (in some fantasy land, an elf brings a living nightmare back from his sleep… or something along those lines). Since the writing’s so tied to the confusing plot, it’s mostly about Nixey’s art. He combines a fantasy setting with some disturbing ideas (more than imagery) and creates something quite nice.

Dorkin’s Hectic Planet is about a girl’s mysterious new boyfriend. Some good art, totally fine writing… it’s like “Friends” for nineties hipsters.

Adams’s Monkeyman and O’Brien this time features a giant monster (who’s more detailed than anything else, art-wise) and absolutely no excitement, of course. His script’s plotting is exceptionally anticlimactic from the start.

Finally, Predator from Barr and Kolins. Kolins’s work is very rough here (weak perspective). It’s a pointless story, just Presents giving a licensed property pages.


Trout, Nicky Nicky Nine Doors, Part One; story and art by Troy Nixey. Hectic Planet, Part Two, Shot on Goal; story and art by Evan Dorkin. Monkeyman & O’Brien, Gorehemoth – The Garbage Heap That Walks Like A Man, Part Two; story and art by Art Adams; lettering by Lois Buhalis. Predator, No Beast So Fierce…; story by Mike W. Barr; pencils by Scott Kolins; inks by Dan Schaefer; lettering by Sean Konot. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 69 (February 1993)

The Predator story keeps getting worse (it turns out it’s just a prologue to some limited series, I love it when Dark Horse uses Presents to advertise their licensed properties). Given Raskin’s worsening artwork and Stradley’s bad writing–he uses a government report as the narrative exposition, he’s used similar devices in the past successfully… here he fails. It’s an awful story; very happy it’s the last installment.

Duffy and Sakamoto have another Nestrobber installment. It’s mean-spirited and lacking in charm. I think it’s supposed to be funny, but I’m completely perplexed with Duffy’s intent. It’s supposed to be manga, but I can’t figure out why anyone would want to read it.

Davis and Paleolove annoy a little. There’s some really pointless writing here. Art’s weak too.

Campbell’s got an amusing slash horrifying anecdote installment of Alec. Only a page, but enough to clear the palate after the rest.


Predator, Race War, Part Three; story by Andrew Vachss; adapted by Randy Stradley; pencils by Jordan Raskin; inks by Bob Wiacek; lettering by Clem Robins. Nestrobber, Survival Skills; story by Jo Duffy; art and lettering by Maya Sakamoto. Paleolove, Part Two; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Alec, An Old Australian Yarn; pencils, inks and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 68 (December 1992)

The Predator story continues and its problems become real clear. Stradley’s trying to take a “real” approach to certain elements–gang members, serial killers–and it just comes off as silly with the Predator running around. Raskin’s art suggests he’s unprepared for such a big assignment (and Wiacek seems to have been brought in to correct things via the inks). Then there’s the inexplicable cliffhanger. So far, very unimpressive.

Campbell’s got two Alec strips. One is really cute, the other is just a nice example of a one page narrative.

Davis is back with Paleolove. The story is longwinded and the art is still primarily concentrated on the scenery. Davis objectifies his female protagonists in the last panel, which sums up all of Davis’s work.

Duffy and Sakamoto have a story with a bunch of kids and their guardian angel, a hit man. It’s well intentioned, but not any good.


Predator, Race War, Part Two; story by Andrew Vachss; adapted by Randy Stradley; pencils by Jordan Raskin; inks by Bob Wiacek; lettering by Clem Robins. Alec, The Remarkable History of the Nullarbor Nymph and Ah Kids, Don’t Ya Just Love ‘Em; pencils, inks and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Paleolove, Part One; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Nestrobber, Swimming Lessons; story by Jo Duffy; art and lettering by Maya Sakamoto. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 67 (November 1992)

The issue opens with an idiotic story about an annoying character called Zoo-Lou. Hedden and McWeeney usually do great work. The art here’s excellent, but the writing is an absolute nightmare. Dark Horse really loves poking fun at themselves… and usually it comes out awful, like Zoo-Lou.

An Accidental Death comes to its conclusion here. No one does this kind of angst and suffering like Brubaker. Everything he does these days is a waste compared to what he could be doing. Brilliant work from Shanower too.

Duffy and Sakamoto have an awful story called Nestrobber. It’s just atrocious.

The Predator story is weird–it’s based on an Andrew Vachss story. Not bad, just too soon to tell.

Campbell’s got a funny Alec, then Russell closes with an Oscar Wilde adaptation. It’s a brilliant piece of work, but it really needs color to make the fairy tale element work.


Zoo-Lou vs. Editor; story, art and lettering by Rich Heddon and Tom McWeeney. An Accidental Death, Part Three; story by Ed Brubaker; art and lettering by Eric Shanower. Nestrobber, Money for Nothing; story by Jo Duffy; art and lettering by Maya Sakamoto. Predator, Race War, Part One; story by Andrew Vachss; adapted by Randy Stradley; pencils by Jordan Raskin; inks by John Beatty; lettering by Clem Robins. Alec, A Pub Far Away; pencils, inks and lettering by Eddie Campbell. The Selfish Giant; story by Oscar Wilde; adaptation, art and lettering by P. Craig Russell. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special (April 1991)

This special is far from an accurate representation of Dark Horse Presents. Everything looks very professional.

The Aerialist and Heartbreakers installments are both long needed establishments of the series’ ground situation.

I even liked the Heartbreakers one (Bennett’s writing is far stronger from the clones’ perspective, versus their creator).

There’s also lots of disposable stuff–Concrete, The American and Black Cross are all weak, though Warner’s art is better on Cross than I’ve ever seen it. Chadwick and Verheiden use their stories to blather about American culture.

Of the two Miller’s–Give Me Liberty and Sin City–I almost prefer Sin City. Liberty‘s a little overbearing, though the Gibbons art is nice.

Prosser and Janson do a great adaptation of an Andrew Vachss. The Roachmill, Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator entries are all fantastic.

I’m a little peeved Bob the Alien is on the cover but not in the issue.


Give Me Liberty, Martha Washington’s War Diary: April 16, 2012; story by Frank Miller; art by Dave Gibbons. Concrete, Objects of Value; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Aliens; story by John Arcudi; art by Simon Bisley. The American; story by Mark Verheiden; pencils by Dougie Braithwaite; inks by Robert Campanella; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Roachmill; story and art by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney. Placebo; script by Jerry Prosser, based on a story by Andrew Vachss; art by Klaus Janson; lettering by Michael Heisler. Black Cross; story and art by Chris Warner; lettering by Jim Massara. The Aerialist, Part Three; story and art by Matt Wagner; lettering by Kurt Hathaway. Heartbreakers, The Prologue; story by Anina Bennet; art by Paul Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. Aliens vs. Predator; story by Randy Stradley; art by Phill Norwood; lettering by Brosseau. Sin City, Episode One; story and art by Frank Miller. Edited by Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 46 (November 1990)

You know, the Aliens stories in Dark Horse Presents, for whatever reason, never bugged me. However, this Predator standalone… it’s really out of place. Maybe it’s because Arcudi’s writing is so lame (he does have a good twist, but Walton’s art makes it hard to appreciate as everyone looks the same). It’s not so much bad, just really lame.

Harris’s Crash Ryan is just getting better. He does a bunch of action (and gets two story slots in this issue) and then has a fantastic reveal. He mixes the awkward politics–it’s pro-worker, but anti-Soviet and anti-Nazi. Awesome conclusion has American big business getting in bed (albeit unknowingly) with Hitler….

The Bacchus story is the origin story. Dark Horse really owes Campbell–Bacchus has added a legitimacy to Dark Horse Presents. The retelling’s great, mixing periods and tones. It’s an essential history lesson (of an inessential subject).


Predator; story by John Arcudi; pencils and lettering by Rob Walton; inks by Armando Gil. Crash Ryan; story and art by Ron Harris. Bacchus, Defining the Divine; story and art by Eddie Campbell and Wes Kublick. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 36 (February 1990)

The Aliens vs. Predator story is most impressive for Norwood’s illustration… but not of aliens or Predators. The story opens on some alien world and it’s just breathtaking. Once the actual story starts (Stradley’s two conversationalists talking about hunting experiences while Predators hunt aliens), it can’t compete with those visuals. Still, for what amounts to shameless self-promotion, these prologues are very successful.

Davis’s Delia & Celia features a number of young women “playing” the two leads. Davis can’t maintain faces for them to the point he must have been photo-referencing. Each panel, they get a new, distinct face. The writing is nearly interesting this time… but Davis fumbles it.

This installment of Heartbreakers kind of makes the clone thing clear–there’s two groups of clones, one tough, one not as tough. But it’s not clear if they’re clones of the same person (just with different haircuts). It’s inoffensively mediocre.


Aliens vs. Predator; story by Randy Stradley; pencils by Phill Norwood; inks by Karl Story; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Heartbreakers, Ceiling Zero; story by Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan; art by Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. Delia & Celia, The Great Marsh; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 35 (December 1989)

The Predator story opening the comic gets it off to a good start (it’s really just part of the prologue to the first Aliens vs. Predator series). Stradley writes an excellent conversation about social Darwinism between these two pilots, which Norwood then adapts into something featuring Predators fighting for dominance. Well, it was probably the reverse, right? Marvel style?

The first Heartbreakers story is mildly incomprehensible–it’s packed with detail, all about cloning, interoffice politics and the future. I like Guinan’s art, but I can’t tell if the soldiers are all supposed to be identical clones. His visual reference all seems to be Vietnam War, so it’s weird to see it as a future story.

The final story, from Inabinet, is this incredibly dense–there’s almost so much text it could just be prose–fable about the adventures of a Muslim scholar in the Middle Ages. Inabinet does masterful work.


Predator; story by Randy Stradley; pencils by Phill Norwood; inks by Karl Story; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Heartbreakers, Only Angels Have Wings; story by Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan; art by Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. A Tough Nut to Crack; story and art by Sam Inabinet; lettering by Karen Casey-Smith. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Aliens vs. Predator 4 (December 1990)

It’s a weak close, partially because Stradley probably needed another issue to fully develop the relationship between the protagonist and the friendly Predator (he also needed space to give it a proper ending), but mostly because Chris Warner is no replacement for Norwood.

Warner kills that beautiful design sense Norwood brings to the book. Instead of the panels being so well-composed it can distract from the narrative, they’re rote. Aliens vs. Predator, between Warner and Campanella, becomes a boring movie tie-in. Norwood made it special.

Even with the action pacing and the lack of narration, Stradley’s able to keep his protagonist strong. Sadly, one of her strongest moments is inferred instead of shown.

Stradley can only do so much. He’s a good writer, he clearly has a decent plot. But he doesn’t have the time to tell the story. He also doesn’t adjust the writing for Warner’s pencils.


Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Chris Warner; inker, Robert Campanella; colorist, Monika Livingston; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Diana Schutz; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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