2 out of 5
I should be more impartial in my review if this, it being a bundling of online-first strips published under the Dark Horse Presents banner (prior to another print attempt a few years later), and thus not necessarily intended to be evaluated as a collection, but I can’t help it: the lack of tonal cohesion, reliance on fan-service, and general lack of satisfaction in most of the strips is too reminiscent of my feelings toward the original DHP run.
Some notes on the contents:
The elements of Whedonism that can be balanced out by actors and directors and other writers in TV have no filter in print, making his alien-fighting rock strip Sugarshock enragingly obnoxious, with a hashtag-esque sense of archness years before that became its own obnoxious thing.
I parted ways with The Goon a while back, but I can still appreciate its general pulpy humor, and a four part story about “a missing pecker,” with each installment handled by a non-Powell writer and artist, sounds like a fine, chuckle-worthy idea. Alas, only the Fillbach Brothers really seem to nail the strip’s absurd tone, with the other entries (even the one with my main man John Arcudi) falling flat.
Haden Blackman and Cary Nord deliver one of the collections more effective standalone bits, with a creepy review of real life serial killers, and of course Mike Mignola and Guy Davis’ Christmas fable maintains that duo’s usual quality.
Elsewhere, the majority are shorts of pre-existing strips, and are meaningless on their own (no real addition to their respective worlds) and also fail to be intriguing enough to make me want to check out the strips from which they sprang. Particularly boring is the overlong Fear Agent by Rick Remender, the hard-boiled space adventurer tone completely at odds with Kieron Dwyer’s more cartoonish art. And I’ve never found much joy in Steve Niles’ poorly written monster tales, although this early Brian Churilla outing shows that the artist does really well as long as he doesn’t have to draw any backgrounds.
Bland contents without any real standouts, and a lack of editorial vision to align the tone. No thanks.