Some big names jump into the fray for the big, 200th issue of Dark Horse Presents.
Mike Mignola gives us a Hellboy tale that encapsulates the character in a matter of a handful of pages. It’s short and sweet.
Matt Kindt allows us a prologue to his next (and FINAL!!!!!) cycle of Mind MGMT. I’m a huge Mind MGMT fan, so any little extra bit I can get of his mind-bending world is a treat. He takes psychic abilities to a whole new level, letting powers bleed from the writing into words on a page, letting a character’s emotions and feelings warp reality around them. Here, he cleverly uses the story of Hamlet to meddle with people’s minds. So much intelligence even in just a few pages. This world is clearly one of the most original worlds created in recent years.
The rest of the issue is filled with oddities.
In Ape-X: Dirty Bad Science by Fred Van Lente, we follow a psychic ape who uses sign language (playfully drawn into the dialogue bubbles alongside the translated words) who goes after a sort of evil water monkey hoping to use dolphins to take over dry land. It’s fun, yet strange.
Semiautomagic (writer: Alex Di Campi, artist: Jerry Ordway) picks up from last issue after a strong start and pushes the story almost immediately to the third act with twists that feel like they are there just to be twists.
Sabertooth Swordsman: Double Date Disaster (writer: Damon Gentry, artist: Aaron Conley) definitely falls into the Heavy Metal world of the surreal and absurd. While a cloudman in the sky makes his way to a double date (literally a cloud with the face of a man), everything he does inadvertently effects the Sabertooth Swordsman, making life very difficult. The cloudman farts, disorienting Sabertooth, so a horde of giant bats can get the upper hand. It’s off the wall.
Murder Book: Point Taken (writer: Ed Brisson, artist: Michael Walsh) is a tale of two hitmen. One an old dog, one a rookie. The dialogue is natural, and the situation interesting enough, though it borders a little too closely on the familiar. It will be interesting to see where it goes.
Dream Gang: Act 2, Chapter 1 (story and art by Brendan McCarthy) The design of this story was of more interest to me than the story itself, which didn’t have a viable entry point. The colors and shapes create a trippy, dreamlike experience. If you’ve been following this story, you may have a better handle than me.
Pino in Mermaids (by Gustavo Duarte) is a fun, little story about an old man fishing who entangles a mermaid in his line. She asks for his help. No dialogue is shared, as he is deaf. The art is engaging, the coloring is lush, and the story itself is interested only in sitting back and calmly telling itself. I liked this one quite a bit.
Masks (story: Gillian Flynn, art: Dave Gibbons) follows a mother who is fed up with bullying and fights back in an Anonymous-like mask. I have the distinct feeling I’ve read this before, and this is just to bring us up to speed again by retelling everything we’ve already read. So, I wonder why it was here.
Overall, this issue was a little more uneven than #199, but the inclusion of Mind MGMT is more than enough to get me to fork over a few extra dollars new comic book day.