It still seems like only yesterday when we met in the 4th grade. I was nothing more than a young, naive, wanna-be fanboy with an addiction to the Alien films (just three at that point). While I hungered for something more in my world, I could have never imagined what you had to offer could actually exist in my fairly reserved and boring existence. (Think Luke Skywalker on Tatooine, but without speeders, spaceships, lightsabers, anything cool, etc.) That all changed the first time my eyes met those heart-melting and life-changing comic books. (Aliens: Colonial Marines #1 and Aliens vs. Predator #3. I’ll never forget . . . ) Dark Horse, you opened a whole new world of childhood memories and magical escapes to me that day—childhood memories and magical escapes full of bloody, bloody chestbursters. For this, I can never repay you.
Those first two issues may have belonged to my friend, but the electricity between me and your comics was obvious from the beginning. Shortly after, that connection between you, me, and the Xenomorphs led me to take my first steps into a larger world—my local comic book shop (an amazing oasis of Geekdom known as The Comic Swap in State College, PA). While some may consider 4th grade a little early to enter the more “mature” arena comic books were inhabiting during the early '90s, I dived in full force with the glee of a wandering soul who had finally found its place, devouring the plethora of new Aliens comics you released and relishing the “community” of like-minded geeks hinted at in your letter pages. It wasn’t long before my gateway comic of choice led to others like your impressive Terminator series or the time you jumpstarted me straight into adulthood with a trip to Kadie's Bar in Frank Miller’s Sin City. (Thanks, Nancy . . . and Frank.) Again, I loved every moment of it and begged for more.
I know we drifted apart for a bit while I was in college, but that’s not unheard of in a relationship as long and enduring as ours. In the end, you knew just how to play my geeky, little heartstrings to get me to return, and I was thrilled to be wrapped around your finger again. You and I both know I’m talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8. Sure, you had dabbled in Buffy comics before, but I was so blown away (and, yes, completely turned on. I’ll admit it!) by your ambition and boldness! A canon continuation of my beloved Buffy? With Mr. Whedon, himself, involved? You’d never been so beautiful before (especially decked out in Jo Chen and Georges Jeanty . . . RAWR!). You handled the Buffyverse that I, and many others, hold so very precious with such grace, care, and kindness that it made me love you in ways I never knew possible. You haven’t slowed down since, not content to simply milk my affections with the hurdles (and books) already completed. You continue to push boundaries, to excite, to thrill—hell, last year’s Angel & Faith was so unbelievably perfect and unexpected that I hesitate to form any expectations at all at this point. What’s the point? You continuously exceed them, my love.
I may have my favorites, but it would also be a disservice to merely base your merits on my personal favorites alone. Dark Horse, your contributions to the comic industry are awe-inducing and inspiring. Whether it be Hellboy, The Mask, 300, The Flaming Carrot, Dark Horse Presents, Concrete, or many, many more. You’re a pillar in the comic industry, and you’ll always have my love and respect.
You had quite a few accomplishments, as well, with the Star Wars license (Can I just say that it is absolutely adorable that the first question in your website’s FAQ section deals with Star Wars timelines; this makes me love you even more.), from the legendary Dark Empire, where you allowed Luke to finally fall to the dark side all they way to the current The Star Wars, which adapts the first (and very, very different) draft screenplay of George Lucas’ classic tale. That barely scratches the surface of the beautiful things you’ve done in a galaxy far, far away, but, honestly, it’s not what you did with Star Wars that means the most to me. It was the class and grace you showed when the license inevitably was announced to be returning to Marvel due to the recent acquirement of LucasFilm by Disney. Everybody loses at some point, but how they lose tells you a lot about their inner character. You’re one classy comic book company, baby. Don’t ever change.
And, the best is yet to come, Dark Horse. Hell, you know that better than I do. Buffy: Season 10 is just around the corner. Gail Simone is taking on Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. My favorite Firefly is flying high in Serenity: Leaves on the Wind. While it may have been a while since we’ve shared a good, old, acid-oozing, chest-bursting tale, you recently gave me chills of absolute joy when you announced your plan to relaunch your Aliens and Predator lines again later this year. (I’m less thrilled about Prometheus being included in the trio, but if anyone can do it right, it’s you, my stallion.) Pardon my squee!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, beautiful.
Make mine Dark Horse . . . forever.
Your favorite, little Comic Book Slayer