Tag Archives | Dark Horse

Bay Area Fight Club: Screenings and Signings

chuck-palahniuk-fight-club-2-tourThis month Dark Horse Comics is releasing the hardcover edition TPB of Chuck Palahniuk’s sequel to Fight Club. This edition collects all 10-issues of Fight Club 2.

Screening: Fans of the film and the comic can celebrate this weekend with a screening of the original film at the New Parkway. Tickets for the screening are only $8. A special ticket provided by Oakland’s Cape and Cowl will get attendees the hardcover edition of Fight Club 2, a ticket to the film, and the opportunity to win items signed by Palahniuk. Details below:

What: Fight Club and Fight Club 2 release party
When: June 19, 9 p.m.
Where: New Parkway
474 24th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
Tickets: $40 tickets in advance at Cape and Cowl (or at the door)
$8 tickets on New Parkway’s website (or at the door)

Signing: Palahniuk is hosting a short signing tour with one stop in the Bay Area. On June 30 he’ll be at The Booksmith, 1644 Haight Street in San Francisco, to sign copies of the comic (and two other items). Tickets are required if you want a place in line. Details below:

Thursday, June 30 – San Francisco
4:00pm – The Booksmith
SIGNING ONLY
1644 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
Store phone: 415-863-8688
http://www.booksmith.com/event/chuckp2016
Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2546444

 

Bay Area Comic Shops participating in Dark Horse Day (June 4)

Dark Horse 30 Years LogoJune 4 is Dark Horse Day. No, it’s a not a day celebrating the life of 11th President of the United States James K. Polk. Dark Horse Day is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of comic company Dark Horse. In addition to extending the Universe of numerous licensed properties, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alien, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, Dark Horse has been a major publisher creator-owned comics including Frank Miller’s Sin City and Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy . Visitors to participating comic shops will be able to pick up a Dark Horse Day sampler featuring highlights from Aliens vs. Predator, The Umbrella Academy, Sin City, and others. Below is a list of participating Bay Area stores:

Alameda Sports Cards & Comics
1515 Webster Street
Alameda, CA

Cape and Cowl Comics
1601 Clay Street
Oakland, CA

Comix Experience
305 Divisadero St.
San Francisco, CA

Comix Experience Outpost
2381 Ocean Ave.
San Francisco, CA

 

Dr. Comics & Mr. Games
4014 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA

Escapist
3090 Claremont Ave.
Berkeley, CA

Fantastic Comics
2026 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA

 

Isotope
326 Fell St.
San Francisco, CA

 

 

Sorry, Cracked, but superhero movies haven’t ruined comic books

crackedThis post is in response to Jason Iannone’s Cracked article “6 Specific Reasons Why Superhero Movies Ruined Comics.” In his post, Iannone builds a starting point for the greater discussion of how the mainstreaming of popular superheroes through film is impacting the medium where they were first created. He makes some interesting observations but ties too many of the systematic problems with the superhero genre in comics to the current success of superhero films.

#6 The Moviemakers Regularly Shit on the Comics

“Regularly” is an odd word choice. Iannone cites Bryan Singer, Josh Trank, David Goyer, and Zack Snyder. I don’t completely disagree on Trank, Snyder, and Goyer but I do need to defend Singer.

In the case of Singer, he references a statement from Hugh Jackman regarding a rule on the set of the very first X-Men film. You know, way back in 2000 when bringing a superhero film to the big screen was still a massive gamble. Since that first film the superhero movies Singer has directed or produced have moved closer-and-closer to the comics to the point of lifting storylines straight from the source material. Clearly Singer learned his lesson, but we should still hold a grudge against him for creating a filmset rule nearly two decades ago.  

By saying “moviemakers regularly shit on comics” Iannone is broad brushing. He ignores many people who are part of the moviemaking process and have expressed at the least respectful regard for the source material: Avi Arad, Geoff Johns, the Russo Brothers, Guillermo del Toro, Kevin Feige, James Gunn, Josh Whedon, Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh, Sam Raimi, Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds, Tim Miller, and many more (although, that is a lot of dudes. I’m looking forward to adding some diversity to this list).

#5 Marvel is Sabotaging Marvel Characters (When They Don’t own the Film Rights)

I don’t have a problem with this one. We’re pretty much on the same page when it comes to how the rights issues with Marvel films have hindered some titles. Marvel has significantly reduced the role of the X-Men and Fantastic Four over the last five years. Dorkly has a better breakdown of what’s going on.

#4 The Original Writers and Creators Don’t Get Shit from the Films

I also don’t have a problem with this being used as a point. Any day we can remind readers about the issue of creator rights is a good day. However, creator rights are significantly more complicated than simply not getting “shit from the films.”

#3 The Films are Starting to Change the Comics

Iannone appears to be mostly upset that popular concepts from the films are creeping into long established canon. This isn’t a bad thing. The mainstreaming of superheroes is changing the medium of comics for the better. There’s long been a movement for more diversification in superhero comics but it hadn’t caught fire until that lack of diversity was put up on a big screen. If a film’s going to be successful it needs to cross multiple demographics. The success of superheroes in film and on television has helped force Marvel and DC to start looking at how they publish comics, which characters they promote, how those characters ar portrayed, and who they hire to play in the sandbox. Marvel’s currently doing a better job at making these adjustments but DC is showing some signs of hope in the Rebirth solicits. 

Iannone makes his case on the back of Marvel introducing a black Nick Fury due to the popularity of Samuel L. Jackson in the film role. In the comic this character is Nick Fury’s son. Iannone claims Marvel retired “Old White Dude Fury” in 2012. Although his statement is puzzling because OWD Fury played a fairly substantial role in 2014’s crossover event “Original Sin.”

If comics are going to bring in more readers it makes sense to cater to what works in the films. If a Samuel L. Jackson version of Nick Fury into Earth-616 encourages people to pick up a comic book that strikes me as the opposite of ruining comics.

nickfury

Iannone goes on to hold up Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men as proof that Marvel “de-colorized” the X-Men costumes to fall in line with the film. When the hardcover trade of Morrison’s run on New X-Men was published Marvel kindly included the “manifesto” Morrison wrote to guide his direction of these characters. Point seven of the manifesto is “get rid of the costumes.” Morrison writes “Let’s ditch the spandex for the new century and get our heroes into something that wouldn’t make you look like a prick if you wore it on the street.” He mentions the film costumes moving in the right direction but not being quite right: “I’d like to see some yellow in panelling or detailing on the costumes – if only to avoid the dull black leather of every film superhero – but it should be pop art dayglo yellow, the kind cyclists and bikers wear to be seen.”

Editor Mark Powers wrote in the margins, “back to basics, but with modern trappings. Yep.”

Morrison is known for understanding modern fashion trends and trying to be one step ahead of the next hot thing. No doubt he took some influence from the film but it was clear, both in the story and Frank Quitely’s designs, that he wished to take the X-Men in a new direction.

As for Hawkeye, I don’t see how the purple Robin Hood costume would have fit with the Matt Fraction and David Aja vision of a powerless hero surrounded by supers. This wasn’t the story of Hawkeye. It was the story of Hawkguy. It was the story of a grounded character who spends most of the series within a few blocks of his apartment complex. Don’t get me wrong. I grew up with West Coast Avengers and love Hawkeye’s long term costume, but having Clint Barton chasing Russian mobsters while wearing a winged mask with an “H” on it just wouldn’t fit Aja’s minimalist style.

2786033-hawkeye06_01

In a greater sense, Iannone isn’t completely wrong. The companies do need to be careful with how these characters or elements are introduced into the Universe. I think he would have been better served to revisit his fifth point and discuss how Marvel is trying to shove the Inhumans down our throats while downplaying mutants. That’s ruining comics more than a costume change.

#2 Comic Sales are Going Down, Not Up

comicsales2015This is the point I find most flawed and the one that inspired me to write this post. Iannone misuses data to make his point and that sub-headline is misleading. He isn’t actually saying comic sales overall are down (they are, sort of). He clarifies “comic book sales are way down, but only if the comic competes with a movie.” The hypothesis, I guess, is comics featuring a character in a recently released film doesn’t see a sales bump from the film?

He randomly pulls out the Hulk’s June 2014 title, Savage Hulk, and holds it up as an example of a book doing poorly. Yes, the Hulk was part of the ensemble cast in 2012’s Avengers, but other than that the last time the Hulk appeared in a film was 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. If we want to use Hulk as the example why not look at the other factors for the character in 2014?

Iannone fails to mention Marvel was publishing more than one Hulk series in 2014. As the year started Mark Waid’s The Indestructible Hulk was already on issue 17. In April, a second Hulk series was published and was simply titled Hulk. When it dropped it landed at number seven on the sales chart. Perhaps, just perhaps, when Savage Hulk hit the shelves two months later readers were experiencing Hulk fatigue? Maybe it had less to do with films than character saturation?

The interesting thing about The Indestructible Hulk is it was released seven months after the Avengers reintroduced the characters to filmgoers. The first issue landed at number five on the November 2012 sales chart moving more than 118,000 floppies.

Iannone also highlights April 2016’s sales data as proof that superhero movies have ruined comics. It is true that 2016 has seen a softening in overall comic book sales but April’s numbers come with a number of caveats. For one, major publishers have released 12 percent fewer comics in the first quarter of 2016 versus 2015. Marvel is the only publisher to increase offerings while DC, Image, IDW, Dark Horse, Boom, and Dynamite have all cutback. ComicChron writes “this month’s 300th place title sold 4,309 copies, which is the highest figure seen so far this year in that slot; that seems to suggest that the volumes on that smaller number of titles are hanging in there.”

April 2016 is notable for another reason that Iannone completely ignores: Black Panther. Black Panther is the breakout character of Captain America: Civil War. Marvel released a new Black Panther title in April which immediately sold out and is currently the top selling comic of 2016. This is the first number one solo outing for Black Panther in the character’s history.

Moving away from superheroes Iannone attempts to use Star Wars sales as an example of how movies aren’t helping comics. He writes, “In 2015, the wacky adventures of Luke and his Papa owned 19 of the top 50 sales spots, including #1. By January 2016, shortly after The Force Awakens came out, they only owned four spots.”

Firstly, he’s comparing yearly data to monthly data. He’s counting single issues. Technically, Marvel only had six Star Wars titles in the top 50 at the end of 2015. The flagship Star Wars title took 11 of the top 50 spots, the Darth Vader series took 4, and Vader Down, Leia, Lando, and Shattered Empire took the remaining slots.

Secondly, he’s wrong as to how many Star Wars books Marvel had in top 50 in January 2016. There were five: Star Wars 14 and 15, Obi-Wan and Anakin 1, Darth Vader 15, and Kanan 10. It would have been quite a feat for Marvel to have more Star Wars Universe titles in the top 50 considering they were only published four that month. Overall, Marvel has taken a mini-series approach to the Star Wars’ characters. Leia, Lando, and Shattered Empire were all mini-series that ended before 2015 came to a close.

Thirdly, Iannone calls out the fact that Darth Vader is coming to an end with issue 25. Okay…what’s the point? Does he understand the creative team publishing strategy Marvel has embraced over the last decade? In most cases, Marvel doesn’t publish a series ad infinitum anymore. Darth Vader, in storyline terms, is currently owned by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca. The title has consistently landed in or near the monthly top 10 since issue one hit the shelves. Ending volume one in Darth Vader’s story likely has less to do with sales than it has to do with Gillen finishing this story he wanted to tell.

vaderproof

While shouting about the end of Darth Vader the article fails to mention the number two title in April was a Force Awakens established character, Poe Dameron. It overlooks the number four title in April was C-3PO. Iannone omits the fact that June will see the release of the first Han Solo solo series. The Star Wars vertical is strong with Marvel.

As for my parenthetical way up in the third sentence of this section, comic sales do appear to be softening in 2016. There are so many factors that could be contributing to a slowdown it would be reckless to place blame at the feet of superhero films. One simple factor, the average cover price of a top 300 comic has risen from $2.91 in 2005 to $3.96 in 2015. The average cost of a top 300 comic in April 2016? $4.12. Comic prices have increased faster than the rate of inflation and readers have significantly less buying power than they did a decade ago. However, while other websites are quick to blame the publishers I personally believe readers should shoulder most of the blame. As long as comic readers are willing to push $6 comic books into the top 25 the publishers will keep testing how high they can go. And Marvel editor Tom Brevoort will, justifiably, continue to perform his Scrooge McDuck impersonation.

One more complicated example, a failure of marketing comics to the mainstream. DC is about to embark on Rebirth but all of the promotion seems to be within the comic book news echo chamber. I don’t see any effort to communicate what comics are and why someone, as a non-reader but fan of the films, should pick one up. Where’s the out-of-home advertising? Why don’t I see Rebirth digital advertising while I’m making my daily laps around the Internet?

Marvel does a little bit better with marketing but there’s significant room for growth. I only learned last month (thanks, Free Comic Book Day) Peter Parker has spent the last 10 months in San Francisco. That’s interesting! We have more than a dozen comic shops in the Bay Area. Why isn’t Marvel using the image of Spider-Man swinging in front of the iconic Transamerica building to get people into those stores?

tl;dr: superhero films aren’t the factor impacting sales of comics.

#1 Anything that Isn’t DC or Marvel Gets Thrown Under the Bus

Iannone argues that Marvel and DC are sucking all of the air out of the room and their parent companies have no interest in adopting any other comic book properties from other publishers. Again, Iannone mixes the superhero genre with the comic book medium to make his point citing a number of non-superhero projects.

Here’s a quick selection of other comic-based properties (seeing as Iannone so easily flip-flops back and forth between the superhero genre and other genres in the comic book medium to make his point) in the production pipeline:

Except:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Coldest City
Kingsman
100 Bullets
Battling Boy
Descender
Jupiter’s Legacy
Men In Black
Rom
Micronauts
Prophet

That list doesn’t even scratch the surface of comic properties transitioning to television or Netflix. Iannone writes “third-party asides like Dark Horse Comics might as well not exist” without acknowledging Dark Horse signed a deal with Universal Cable Productions last year to bring a number of properties to television. Universal also snatched up Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick last year for Sex Criminals and other IPs. Based on Universal’s commitment to the deliciously bizarre Mr. Robot it’s likely we’ll start seeing the results of these relationships in the next two years. 

Signing: Chuck Palahniuk at Comix Experience

fightclubissue3Begin Disclosure: This disclosure is important, because I’m about to start this blurb about a signing at Comix Experience with the hyperbolic statement “Fight Club 2 is one of the top ten titles of 2015.” I respect Chuck Palahniuk greatly as an author, I believe Cameron Stewart is one of the most important comic artists working, and I consider Fight Club to be a rare perfect film.  This disclosure is important, because I want you to be aware of my bias.  This disclosure is important, because I want you to consider that while Palahniuk has long been one of my favorite authors I haven’t been enamored by every word, sentence, and paragraph he’s written. He’s even penned entire books where I reach the final period, close the book, and say “meh.” Even so, he remains an author I read in hardcover because of his approach to the narrative craft. By “approach,” I mean the way he’ll use a long-bearded ax to tear away the traditional narrative shield, hack the status quo into little pieces, and reassemble it with the rhythm of war drums as his guide.

This disclosure is important, because I believe my hyperbolic statement “Fight Club 2 is one of the top ten titles of 2015″ should carry extra weight. My first thought when reading the solicits was that a sequel was unnecessary. A sequel in any format would take away from the original novel and film. My childhood would be ruined. Human beings only have a tentative hold on nostalgia and the smallest affront to that nostalgia, like making Ghostbusters all women, would destroy one of the building blocks that made me. If it happens too often the Universe would likely collapse. The previous four statements are all lies (especially the bit about Ghostbusters). On February 24, I shared a link to the solicit on Facebook and wrote “this is interesting.” This disclosure is important, because this disclosure is unreliable. End disclosure.

Fight Club 2 is one of the top ten titles of 2015. If you’re already aware of this indisputable fact Comix Experience wants to reward you. If you weren’t aware, but wish to become aware, Comix Experience wishes to reward you.

On August 29, Chuck Palahniuk will be signing copies of his Dark Horse Comics series at Comix Experience’s 350 Divisadero Street location. There will be lines and there will be rules.

  1. If you’re a Comix Experience patron with Fight Club 2 on your subscription list you’ll receive a number for the priority line.
  2. If you’ve never purchased a copy of Fight Club 2, but go to Comix Experience on the day of the event and purchase all four issues you’ll receive a number for the priority line.
  3. If you’ve purchased issue one through three at a different location, but subscribe to issue four at Comix Experience (this is so very clever) you’ll receive a number for the priority line.
  4. There is a secondary line if you have a general disdain for comics as an art form, would prefer to not spend your hard earned dollars on funny books and supporting a local business, and would like for Palahniuk to sign your first edition of the only true Fight Club while asking “oh my god, how could you create this bastardization of such an important book?”
  5. There will be an exclusive line for speculators and flippers forming at the end of Pier 39. Palahniuk will meet with you, tell you you’re special, and sign every single item in your box. Please be at Pier 39 promptly at 11 a.m. and do not go to Comix Experience.

For an accurate and clear breakdown of the rules of the lines please visit the Comix Experience website.

The signing will begin at 11 a.m., but your numbered place in line will better determine when you should show up.  Again, visit the Comix Experience website to better understand your place in line.

Be prepared for the unexpected at this signing. Palahniuk events are known for mayhem.

#mayhemsf #chuckpalahniuk #lindayuknavitch

A video posted by Jesse Russell (@allicouldsee) on

Signing: “Death Head” creators Zack and Nick Keller at Dr. Comics

deathhead“I heard he lures kids into the tunnel… then chokes them till their necks snap!”

Dr. Comics and Mr. Games is hosting a signing for Nick and Zack Keller as they celebrate the release of their new series Death Head. The series was announced in March by Dark Horse Comics at Emerald City Comicon. The first issue will finally hit shelves on July 15 and the Nick and Zack will be holding court at the Piedmont neighborhood comic shop on July 18 at 3 p.m.

After the Burton family discovers an ancient mask fashioned in the style of those worn by plague doctors in the 17th Century they’re soon targeted by the mask’s owner. In an interview with CraveOnline, Zack explained “there are many haunted locations, but only one Plague Doctor. Like an urban legend, everyone knows about the creature wearing the white beaked mask. However, no one truly knows what it wants, where it comes from or why it so often takes the victim’s head. These locations—the cemetery sewer, an abandoned town in the redwoods—are real places near where we grew up that have scared us since childhood. By writing this story we’re exorcising our demons and passing them on to you.”

The story is especially relevant to those of us who call Oakland home. The graffiti sewer tunnel in Mountain View Cemetery serves as inspiration for a similar tunnel which makes several appearances in the series. It might be a fun place to set up camp and read the first issue. Or not, because plague doctors.

Find Death Head on Tumblr and Facebook.
Creator Website: Zack Keller
Creator Website: Nick Keller

What: Death Head signing with Nick and Zack Keller
Where: Dr. Comics and Mr. Games
4014 Piedmont Street
Oakland, CA
When: July 15, 3 p.m.

Berkeley’s Madefire adds Hellboy to motion comic line-up

According to Comic Book Resources, Berkeley-based Madefire will be adding Mike Mignola’s Hellboy to their growing list of motion comics. Hellboy in Hell is the first Dark Horse title to join the Madefire Motion Book roster and more are expected to appear in the future. In August the company announced IDW’s participation with titles including Transformers, My Little Pony, and Star Trek. The company has additionally been developing a number of original titles including the Dave Gibbons created Treatment.

Read More: Berkeley’s Madefire releases IDW motion books

Dead Universes (part III): Reading order

ghostDeciding how to read a Dead Universe informs the best way to collect a Dead Universe. Do you read it series-by-series, as it came out when originally published, or in some sort of chronological order? Knowing this will help determine how to invest in Dead Universes.

Chronologically

Reading a Universe in chronological order is tempting, especially if the publisher had taken time to plot out a rough skeleton of the timeline. This is easiest with Defiant due to less than 60 issues being published thanks to Marvel’s company killing lawsuit. The website ShooterWorks.com has posted notes from the never published universe-wide crossover event, Schism, which helps establish a solid reading order. Using those notes and my own reading of the titles I’ve built a preferred chronology.

The original Valiant universe (VH1), on the other hand, had a long and healthy life before greed drove the universe into the ground. Due to that long publishing life putting the whole thing into a chronological reading order would be a bit of a bear. Thankfully, Joshua Eves at ValiantFans.com enjoys wrestling bears and did the heavy lifting to establish a timeline. While it would definitely be interesting to read the universe in this order it would require waiting until all of the relevant issues have been collected. Putting that collection together will take time and money, because it isn’t very often someone puts up for sale an entire lot of all published Valiant issues.

Series-by-Series

Steve Englehart, one of the founding fathers of the Ultraverse, has said the intention was “from the outset to share the playground and join in each other’s games,” so there’s a great deal more crossover in the Ultraverse than some of the other Dead Universes. That makes a chronological reading enticing. However, if you include everything published, including after the accursed Marvel buyout, there are nearly 800 single issues in the Ultraverse. Subtracting the issues after the Marvel takeover you’re still looking at more than 500 single issues. It isn’t as many as the Valiant Universe, but it would still take a great deal of work to figure out the rough chronology. Of course, there’s far less time jumping in the Ultraverse than in Valiant, so arguably someone could read the issues as they initially hit the market and probably come close to a chronology.

I’ve decided to read Malibu’s Ultraverse series-by-series based on when that series started. As an example, Prime, Hardcase, and The Strangers were first to market in June 1993, so I’ll read those all the way through starting with The Strangers which is considered the launch title of the universe. Next would be Freex and Mantra which both came out in July 1993. Those would be followed by Exiles and Prototype (August 1993), The Solution (September 1993), Sludge and Night Man (October 1993), so on and so forth. It’ll be interesting to first see the Ultraverse evolve entirely through the eyes of Prime and then see how it all connects through the perspective of Night Man.
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Dead Universes (part I): Reading Dead Universes

defiantA few years ago I had an itch to reread the Dark Dominion series from Defiant Comics. Not having my original issues readily available I went to ebay to see if I could get them at a reasonable price. Plugging “Defiant Comics” into the search led me to a vendor selling not only every issue of Dark Dominion, but nearly every single issue published by Defiant between 1993 and 1994 for $30. My pulse quickened as I realized I could own a nearly complete universe. He was only missing the two issues of Prudence & Caution and the Warriors of Plasm and Dark Dominion zero issues.

It was easy enough to track down Prudence & Caution, but the zero issues come as a series of trading cards that puzzle together when placed in order in a binder. There were vendors on ebay selling the fully collected trading cards complete in binders, but while searching I came across someone selling six boxes of Warriors of Plasm cards and four boxes of Dark Dominion cards. The price for all 10 unopened boxes was $20 which at the time seemed like a smart purchase.

When adjusted for inflation everything I purchased (not including the multiple boxes of trading cards) would have cost me more than $220 in 1994.  I only had to spend a little more than $50 so I could read the storyline of an entire shared universe. Having this revelation I realized if I could do it with Defiant I could very likely do it with the other mothballed universes from the 90s.

Some quick googling showed me I wasn’t alone. There’s a vibrant forum dedicated to Dead Universes at Valiantfans.com and a number of blogs documenting efforts to collect entire universes. The magnitude of collecting universes varies. Some collectors are only seeking to have a complete storyline. Others are trying to acquire all of the variant covers and ashcans. On the more extreme end are collectors collecting everything related to the publisher’s universe from action figures to promotional swag to television pilots.

Personally, I’m mostly interested in collecting for the purpose of reading the stories of these universes. Tragically, most have never been collected into trades and in many cases legal kerfuffles make the likelihood they ever will slim at best. That means mining ebay and long boxes at comic shops for the lowest priced floppies.

Of course, Dead Universes stretch all the way back to the Golden Age. For my own personal sanity I’ve limited my current reading to universes that were launched and started to fade between 1991 and 1995. This includes, but is not limited to, Defiant, Malibu’s Ultraverse, Comics Greatest World, and Valiant.

Read Dead Universes Part 2: Best Practices

Dead Universes (prologue): A time traveler finds holes in the multiverse

This was intended to be a one or two paragraph introduction to a series I’m working on regarding Dead Universes of the 90s. It’s possible I got a little carried away.

If a time traveler leaps from January 1995 to January 2012 and walked into a comic book shop she’d likely at first think very little had changed. DC and Marvel are still the top dogs while the logos of Dark Horse and Image continue to command a decent amount of shelf space.

The first thing she might notice is all of the numbering on DC’s titles are very low; shouldn’t Action Comics be nearing 900 around now? DC is still publishing the Vertigo imprint, but Animal Man and Swamp Thing seem to be absorbed back into the the primary DC continuity. Missing from the racks: Sandman, Doom Patrol, the Invisibles, and Shade, the Changing Man. She’d note that Hellblazer is still running, but John Constantine (and Shade) now appear to be part of something called Justice League Dark.

Continuing her observation she’d likely start to notice some holes where universes used to be. Dark Horse’s attempt at a shared superhero universe, Comics’ Greatest World, doesn’t have any representation on the shelf (Ghost would grace the cover of Dark Horse Presents... five months later). Defiant, which held so much promise when she left 1994, nowhere to be seen. Marvel had just purchased the Ultraverse characters right before she hit the time stream, but they’re missing from the shelves and don’t appear to have been absorbed into the Marvel Universe. Her beloved Valiant, which was doing so well when she left and had many titles were on a two-issue per month schedule, completely absent (X-O Manowar would reintroduce a new Valiant Universe in May).

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Comics by the Bay: Treasure Island in “Station-to-Station”

Station to Station cover

Headlines in May revealing “alarming radiation levels” on Treasure Island make it the perfect candidate for spawning inter-dimensional kaiju to stomp all over San Francisco. That isn’t exactly the premise of the Dark Horse Comics one-shot Station to Station, but it would fit. The one-shot released on August 28 collects a three-part serial by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman that ran earlier this year in Dark Horse Presents. It features an experiment going terribly wrong at a secret lab on the Bay’s historic man-made island resulting in the appearance of dinosaurs, laser guns, and a massive tentacle monster. The issue is receiving rave reviews around the Internet.

Talking Comics writes: “Bechko and Hardman’s work reads like a classic episode of The Twilight Zone: mysterious, character-driven, and filled with shock-and-awe psychodrama.”

Bloody Disgusting writes: “The result is a story that moves with incredible pace, and a casual approach to creatures from alternate dimensions. It’s fun, original, and awesome on the eyes.”

Borg.com writes: ” Unlike a lot that comes out of Dark Horse Presents that have grown into ongoing series, Station to Station doesn’t need a series because it does what it needs in a single issue.”

Comic Booked writes: “Every page, every panel runs like pure poetry in the way that it comes together. There’s a full sense of composition and dynamics that crackles and bristles with energy.”

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