Dark Horse continues to collect stellar stories from their critically acclaimed Dark Horse Presents anthology stories into one-shots, and Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s Station to Station is no exception. Originally appearing in three parts in Issues #19, 20, and 21 of the anthology series, this is a self-contained story that also lays the groundwork for further adventures in the world Bechko and Hardman have created, which is essentially our world, just with the addition of monsters from a plethora of other dimensions, parallel worlds, and alternate timelines – where exactly the monsters are from, we do not know, the more pressing concern is that they are now in our world. While the scope of the story is huge, the action is played out on a small, intimate scale, as the scientists who unwittingly unleashed these monsters must race to solve the problem before the monsters cause irreparable damage.
Eponymous is a modern-day superhero story from the monthly digital anthology VS Comics, written by Mike Garley, with art by Martin Simmonds, and lettered by Mike Stock. The story takes place in a time when super-powered individuals no longer permeate the population, though there are definite hints that they used to, and that they became something of a problem. So, when the superhero Eponymous comes onto the scene, we know it is a big deal, though it is not exactly clear why. There is a secret organization that believes Eponymous may be responsible for a horrible tragedy in the future and is determined to take her down at any cost, including sacrificing the life of Lucy, a young girl who has nightmares of horrible catastrophes that eventually come true.
Jai Nitz and Greg Smallwood’s Dream Thief continues to deliver the goods in its fourth issue, though it’s hard to believe there is only one more issue to go in the miniseries, both because I am enjoying it so much, and because I’m curious how they are going to wrap up their intriguing, dark tale by the fifth issue. Hopefully, this will only be the end of the first miniseries, as there are endless adventures that supernaturally possessed vigilante John Lincoln could find himself tangled up in, as the inherent nature of the mask would make it perfect for long term episodic-style storytelling. But, those are questions more suited to the review of the fifth issue.
If you haven’t heard of writer Sam Humphries and artist Dalton Rose’s Sacrifice, or haven’t picked up any of their completely self-published issues in your independent comic-supporting comic shop, or caught them on ComiXology, then it is time to finally right a grievous wrong. Luckily for you, Dark Horse Comics is making your penance easy, by collecting all six issues of this spectacular miniseries into a single deluxe hardcover book. Even better for you, it is chock full of sketches, character designs, and variant covers. Those extras though are merely a portion of your reward for undertaking Sacrifice’s mystical, mind-bending, ancient, and blood-soaked journey. The majority of the reward is found in the wildly original story, unique, almost at times transcendent art, and the elaborate execution, in more ways than one, of the whole project. Intrigued? I’m sure you are, as you should be.
If you like your fiction with a little bit of science, then Albert Einstein: Time Mason may be the independent comic you have been waiting to discover. Written by Tony Donley and Marcus Perry, and drawn by Donley, the first issue is going to be a print reality through their Tiny Donkey Studios, thanks to a successful and entertaining Kickstarter campaign. But, Kickstarter campaigning aside, this is one fun, creative book. Einstein is cool, smart, suave, young, with his trademark moustache (though his hair hasn’t gone white yet), and, oh yeah, he can travel through time.
Ex Sanguine had me from the first page and kept me intrigued, and shocked, all the way through to the end. Written by Joshua Scott Emmons and Tim Seeley, and with Seeley also doing the art, this five-issue miniseries from Dark Horse takes a different stab at what the life of a modern-day vampire might be like, and it isn’t glamorous. Saul Adams is a vampire who lives in a fog of forgotten memories. He has to keep a journal to remember who he has met, what he has done, and even who he is, because immortality creates more memories than is possible to remember. His life has little variance, and he likes it that way. But, Saul’s town of Alexandria, Virginia, has been plagued as of late by a serial killer who leaves strange codes written in blood at the scene of the crime, and Saul’s life is about to get a whole lot more interesting, whether he likes it or not.
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World has it all: action, adventure, humor, heart, and magic. This is the third title from digital comics publishing powerhouse Monkeybrain Comics to get the print treatment, here from IDW, and it deserves every page. Written by Harvey and Eisner Award winners Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride, and with superb artwork by Nick Brokenshire, the six-issue story practically leaps off the page and pulls you into its various worlds. Amelia Cole lives between two worlds, a magical one and a non-magical one. But, before long, Amelia finds herself in a third world, an unknown world, where magic and non-magic coexist. Cleverly, all three of these worlds look deceptively similar, though under the surface they couldn’t be more different. The only true constant across all three is Amelia, who believes she should use her magic to help people, no matter what.
Burn the Orphanage is a 3-part miniseries from Image, created and written by Sina Grace and Daniel Freedman, with artwork by Grace. It's all pure fun, a fun that incorporates an incredible homage to '90s video games. The story is a simple and direct one and plays out like the cut scenes in a video game: a decades-old mystery is tilled to the surface through the rough and tumble fisticuffs of Rock, one of the now-adult orphans from the orphanage of the title, and dark secrets are brought to light after much street fighting. Oh, and there are stripper ninjas.
Tarzan: The Sunday Comics 1931-1933, published by Dark Horse, is a time capsule just waiting to be cracked open and poured over by eager, interested eyes. The first Tarzan newspaper strip ran in 1929, and a full-page, color Sunday comic began running shortly thereafter in 1931. Hal Foster, who did all of the artwork in this collection, was not the artist that originally started the Sunday comic, though he was the first artist to draw the regular Tarzan strip, and was also Tarzan’s creator Edgar Rice Burroughs’ preferred artist. This book begins on September 27, 1931, about seven months into the Sunday comics run, with Hal Foster’s first Sunday comic, part one of the thirteen part Hawk of the Desert. This story, like the other multiple date-spanning stories, are heavily serialized, providing insight into the ways stories were told and presented back in the 1930s. The storytelling may come off as melodramatic or ham-fisted at times, but, again, that was the style of the 1930s. The rousing bravado was the perfect rebuff of The Great Depression, giving people an honorable, honest, and strong hero to root for in Tarzan, and taking them on exciting and exotic adventures that let them escape their everyday worries.
Combining two of pulp’s greatest heroes is nothing new, but Mark Waid and Paul Smith’s The Rocketeer & The Spirit: Pulp Friction pulls it off with such gusto. This creative team has such obvious love for these characters that you can’t help but think this is the best idea ever, and the first time it has been done, and for these two characters, both are true. This first issue, part of a four-issue miniseries, is an absolute blast. Waid and Smith nail the dialogue and art of each hero’s world so well, and then blend them so perfectly, almost creating a new universe for them to exist in, but one that still feels familiar and friendly.