Dark Horse Presents #5 Review: A Few Memorable Moments, But Spam Too

Issue five of “Dark Horse Presents” starts off with a bang, but this issue might leave you with a gaping hole of disappointment. The techniques are varied and well-executed; however, the stories get progressively duller and disorientating.

“Isolation,” is a self-contained story about an exploratory robot sent to a planet, light-years from Earth who becomes increasingly more human; by exemplify the best and worst of his creators.

It’s a thought-provoking comically dramatic read colored with cyber porn, biblical hypocrisy and coolant fluid fueled trips. It’s a portrait of humanity that portrays self-serving, parasitic, bullies. With a “Futurama” meets “Ghost in a Shell” feel, it ends with an ominous splash page hinting to more comedic and ponderous exploits.

Simple, beautiful and meticulous: Dave Stewart pays lots of attention to the color scheme; a varied palette, appearing intense at the beginning and becoming lighter with progression, perhaps to exemplify the society the robot has left and the wilderness about to be mar.

Next from Sanford Greene and Chuck Brown is “Rotten apple.” It’s seemingly centered in a world where heroes and animal-masked villains battle for possession of a mystical red rock. Characters that have to do with the plot appear only to give random warnings. As if trying to inject thought provoking dialogue into the last clip, the villain is defeated when this ruby- like rock comes in contact with the impure blood of humans, suggesting we are unworthy.

The twists are more random than shocking, like many things. The animal masks are supposed to protect against poisonous gas, yet the female protagonist doesn’t wear anything nor do her companions. A member of her crew appears to be a zombie. Where did that come from? Zombies need plots too.

The art is commendable. The composition is varied and both Greene and Tyson Hesse, the colorist, chose brilliant colors that are not only vibrant and mobile, but give a sense of the climate and conditions.

“The Adventure of Dog Mendonca and Pizza Boy” is like sitting through opening credits and then having the program interrupted by a test of the emergency alert system.

The comic is entertaining once you emit all the annoying commercials, detours and outside dialogue. The main story has an X-man: Wolverine Saga plot to it; centered in a Nazi-esc camp, where mythical creatures are rounded up and experimented on. Less artistic license is taken with the piece; very realistic. The salesman routine is annoying, but the random cola ads serve as a good cliffhanger. I definitely want more.

Short and extremely, extremely, repetitive dialogue describes Robert Love and David Walkers, “Number 13 Chapter Four.” It appears that Master, who is surrounded by bad-ass, buxom babes, wants to destroy and he needs his missing brother Jimmy to do so. The plot needs background to be effectively evaluated, so if this is your first introduction, you’ll be going home alone.

Steve Parkhouse, illustrator of Resident Alien: Welcome to Earth was definitely inspired by Archie comics’ artist, Stan Goldberg. From the color scheme down to the lines and contrast between light and shadow, “Resident Alien” screams backwash little town.

Evident from the title, the protagonist is an extra- terrestrial living on earth, posing as a doctor. Peter Hogan incorporates UFO lore into the plot, playing with double innuendos and making them bold if they were unclear. The alien, Dr. Harry Vanderpeigle, is called to investigate a murder; suggestive enough is the glint in his black eyes as he concludes that an autopsy will reveal more information.

Criminal Macabre is exactly that horrid. Although the broken and rough drawing style lends to its theme, it goes around in circles. Cal McDonald is reanimated to prevent his death in the brink of war, while his reawakening is supposed to bring to pass; what does he think he is, Jesus? Then to make it worse, the protagonist runs off stating that he’s going to get this war started.

I wonder if Howard Chaykin, writer and illustrator of “Marked Man part Five” is trying to send a message about America’s CIA. Between references to the Bureau and the Bush and Cheney look-alikes, I would think so. The comic wasn’t quite to my liking but if you’re a government conspiracy and espionage buff, this is right up your alley with its untraceable explosions and secret escape routes.

Andy Watsons’ “Skeleton Key,” is about two girls dimension hopping their way home. This chronicles their encounter with enchanted dancing shoes, a feature used repeatedly from Sabrina the teenage witch: the animated series, to Ella Enchanted to cartoon network’s Billy and Mandy, which the drawing style is reminiscent of. It’s an interesting series, but this issue needs more than techno yuppie wannabes and zombies to make it original.

Finder: Third World is simple about a random guy doing random things: this issue returning lost or misses managed packages. Totally no point, not even funny in its randomness. Although the main character does look like a tanned Charlie Sheen, Tiger Blood.

Love gore? Love shooting? Then, you’ll love “Blood.” This is the fourth addition so far, so you’ll have to read back if you want more than just blood and gun power, but who doesn’t love that? Neal Adams’ drawing style is solid, but you already knew that. There is lot of movement and action, especially since the characters step out of their clip and into the next. It has a very popish style; doesn’t flinch when words like a capitalized “whom” pops out.

Marvel editor and publisher Mike Richardson, definitely wanted to end this issue with a bang, if not literately at least artistically. If you’re lazing on the couch, this is surely a frat boys’ coffee table companion.

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