Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Dark Horse of Comics


"In a skyliner high above the Alien-contaminated earth, Caryn Delacroix can't sleep. Terrifying images of pursuit, disfigurement, and bloody death have invaded her peaceful dreams in her safe and privileged world. But they're only nightmares . . . or are they? The beautiful trophy-consort of corporate magnate Lucien Delacroix soon discovers that nightmares do come true, and that there are fates worse than death, when a Predator comes to call."

About two years after he'd left the X-Men series, writer Chris Claremont began doing work for Dark Horse Comics, founded in the late 1980s by Mike Richardson and described by Wikipedia as being created with "the concept of establishing an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals." You could probably only interpret that one way--writers and artists rediscovering the reason they got into writing and drawing comics in the first place, only this time not engulfed by the directives of Marvel or DC Comics.

The quote above comes from the mid-1993 Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species 12-issue series written by Claremont. I don't clearly recall why I happened to start reading this series--I was either intrigued by the combination of the two popular Aliens and Predator concepts, or the guy at the comics store I patronized sneakily stuck the first issue into my pull stack. The series has many if not all of the Claremont touches you're used to seeing: a plot revolving around a female lead with a distinctive and somewhat atypical name ("Caryn Delacroix")... sentences that drop their pronouns to make their characters appear self-sufficient, self-reliant, and self-confident (the key word here should be obvious)... cocky combatants... as well as letterer Tom Orzechowski, along for the ride.




For a time, during the mid- to late-1990s, Dark Horse stabled some noteworthy talent under its "Legend" imprint, and you couldn't help but be curious about the work that would be turned out by creative personnel who were free to be a bit more creative:



From what I understand, though, Dark Horse's line of superhero books had only a brief run, with the company opting to focus its energies on a diverse collection of projects including fiction/nonfiction books, manga, collectibles, and digital media, as well as comics adaptations of films and TV series, which by all accounts have done fairly well to this day.

1 comment:

Colin Jones said...

The only Dark Horse comics I've read are the Conan ones which have been out since 2004 under different names. The few that I've read are rather dull in my opinion with none of the Marvel magic and the covers are really unexciting compared to the action-packed Marvel covers of yesteryear (although that applies to modern comics covers in general). Hopefully one day Conan will return to Marvel, his true home.

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