I’m sorry, that should read “Super Dark Horse Super Sampler”.

Dark Horse Super Sampler #0

Dark Horse Comics (posted to comiXology October, 2015)

DESIGNER: Justin Couch

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Everett Patterson

EDITORS: Scott Allie, Patrick Thorpe, Daniel Chabon, & Jim Gibbons

PUBLISHER: Mike Richardson

A series of stories featuring Dark Horse’s original (and I think one licensed) superhero comics. Dark Horse makes few superhero comics. A lot of them are in the sci-fi, fantasy, or horror genre. At one point I think they even tried for a shared superhero universe but I don’t think they do that anymore. What you’ll get below is a more relax view of each story as I go through the book.

Ghost

WRITER: Kelly Sue McConnick | ARTIST: Phil Noto | LETTERING: Comicraft

I’m guessing these are going to be a set of short teaser stories, or at least this one was. We learn about our Ghost, the two guys who summoned her to this world, and the box that did it being in the hands of a rather mad scientist named Doctor October. What she just sacrificed her thieving good to do isn’t clear. Admittedly I didn’t know a lot about the character (I think have some other physical sampler from a Free Comic Book Day or a preview in a different Dark Horse comic with her) but the horror angle I wasn’t aware of. I thought she was some restless spirit ghost hero in the pulp hero mode, but this involves less gun shooting and apparently has her ripping a dude’s heart out. I’m a little less interested in that but there’s potential for a good story if that’s more your thing.

X: “The Pigs” part 1

WRITER: Duane Swierczynski | ARTIST: Eric Nguyen | COLORIST: Michelle Madsen | LETTERING: Comicraft | CHAPTER BREAK ART: Raymond Swanland

So…what if the Punisher used a sword instead of bullets? I guess that’s a decent summary of the “X Killer”, a guy who sends photos to the gang members he’s about to kill. One tries to send decoys for a booby trap but that doesn’t work. Man, this story was vile. Our baddie apparently turns one of his men into sausage and goes cannibal. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than Doctor October but that alone lost my interest. I can’t even recommend it to my regular audience but I can’t call it a bad story either.

Captain Midnight: “Midnight At 10,000 Feet” part 1

WRITER: Joshua Williamson | ART: Victor Ibáñez | COLORING: Ego | LETTERER: Nate Piekos | CHAPTER BREAK ART: Steve Rude

A storm near the Bermuda Triangle is observed by a US aircraft carrier and when a returning pilot is asked to investigate a strange signal in the storm a World War II fighter plane comes bursting through. The pilot ejects and uses glider wings to land on the jet. Once the jet lands the costumed pilot is treated a bit roughly, but the jet pilot recognizes who he is. It should be obvious it’s the title character. Now here’s a story I could get behind. It’s not violent, it’s not disturbing, and it does make me curious about this series. It’s another time-displaced war hero story but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good. I kind of want to check this series out.

Sledgehammer ’44

CREATOR: Mike Mignola | WRITERS: Mike Mignola & John Arcudi | ARTIST: Jason Latour | COLORIST: Dave Stewart | LETTERER: Clem Robins | CHAPTER BREAK ART: Mike Mignoal & Dave Stewart

Meanwhile back at the war a dude in armor is dropped in front of a Nazi-occupied building in France, disposes of a bunch of soldiers rather spectacularly (I’m not even sure what he did but the end result is they’re all fried), and enters the building. His back-up, especially one guy who apparently wasn’t paying attention (and frankly looks like he wouldn’t even be allowed in a battlefield–definite 4-f grade physique). Then some kind of tank robot thing sends the US armored dude through a wall. Honestly I’m not too sure what to think of this one. Mignola a great writer but his story preferences and mine tend to mix only partially. The fried bodies of the Nazis were disturbing, but dude in armor (unless he’s a robot) fighting a Nazi robot tank thing is certainly in my wheelhouse. Critically though it’s a good story and you might want to check it out for yourself.

The Victories: “Touched”

WRITER/ARTIST: Michael Avon Oeming | COLORIST: Nick Fiardi | LETTERER: Aaron Walker

What in the everloving @#$%#$% did I just read? I though the first two stories were disturbing but I can’t even tell you what the villain does in this story without ruining my intended PG rating. Though I guess The Jackal (real original) would tell me that I’m lying to myself and not living to my “potential” by not going hardcore R like he is. He did what he said he would do anyway, but geez, man, that’s way too far! Meanwhile the hero of this story has a few issues of his own. Faustus is making jokes, staying in character, while fighting this guy after the villain already decapitated a man while his wife watched. The judge may have been corrupt but what the Jackal does next is that thing I can’t talk about…which may result in you having a worse vision in your head but rape was not involved if that helps. Even Faustus, a member of the superhero team the Victories in a future on the road to going dystopia, is questioning his actions. Ghost was more interesting to me, while this makes X look like a kids book in comparison…no, there’s still that whole cannibal thing, but this book still has more swearing. At any rate this is my least favorite of all the comics sampled here.

The Black Beetle: “No Way Out”

WRITER/ARTIST: Francesco Francavilla | LETTERER: Nate Piekos

Now this is more like it. In Colt City we have a hero who apparently drugged the guards of two mob bosses he’s about to drop in on. Then someone blows up the building before he has a chance. His fate will be told in his regular comic I guess. It’s like a pallet cleaner after the last story and it’s the second book I want to check more into. A pulp hero who doesn’t kill. Interesting.

The Answer

WRITERS: Dennis Hopeless (script) & Mike Norton | ARTIST: Mike Norton | COLORIST: Mark Englert | LETTERER: Crank!

A librarian is sent a puzzle ball by her mother but when she opens it all she finds is a website claiming to be the ultimate puzzle. Meanwhile some guy in shadow learns of this and sends in the Answer to look into it while he’s in the middle of stopping a robbery. The gas station ends up being blown up anyway and somehow he still seems more competent than Faustus and even though he shoots a guy between the legs (and between the lady hostage’s legs, just a bit lower) he comes off less violent than X. I think it’s because this story looks a lot more fun than those other two and I am a fan of Mike Norton’s work. So I kind of enjoyed this and might want to look into more.

So that makes three comics I might want to check out, one that I found way too disturbing personally, and others that are just not to my taste. None of them are bad from a critic’s perspective and you may find something that will interest you. Plus it’s free so it doesn’t cost anything to give these stories a test drive.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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