Dark Horse Comics touted its recent and upcoming superhero efforts Thursday by emphasizing that the characters aren’t what you’ll see over at Marvel or DC.
Exhibit A: “Buzzkill.” Donny Cates, who’s writing the series with Toadies drummer Mark Reznicek, with art by Geoff Shaw, said the title character is “a superhero who gains powers and abilities by doing drugs and drinking alcohol” — pausing for laughs to subside — “and something happened to him where he could be so powerful and so amped up that he blacked out. And when he awoke there were thousands of people dead … and now he’s trying to get his act together by going through the 12 steps, trying to get clean. But just because he wants to get clean doesn’t mean the city’s supervillains are just going to let him walk away.” He said the series doesn’t take addiction lightly. (Not that it doesn’t have a sense of humor: “It’s got a character named Panteradactyl that I’m pretty proud of.”) The first issue lands Sept. 18.
In addition to introducing a number of new heroes, Dark Horse has also been reviving some of its past characters — “Ghost” will become an ongoing series with writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, who scripted the recent miniseries — but one has been noticeably missing: Barb Wire. Founder Mike Richardson said Chris Warner, who was active with Dark Horse in the 1990s, is interested in bringing back the character “as she originally was, before we wrecked her with the movie.”
The company, largely out of the superhero game in recent years, has introduced a number of series that are self-contained, but Richardson hinted that there may be something going on among the disparate titles soon, and that “Brain Boy,” a new take on an old Dell Comics character returning Sept. 11, will be in the middle of it.
Another revival character, Captain Midnight, returns July 31 in a series written by Joshua Williamson with art by Fernando Dagnino. The World War II-era hero is “transported to the present day and finds himself disappointed,” Williamson said. He’ll fight to win back his vision of the future.
Writer Joe Casey, who’s reviving Dark Horse’s 1990s team Catalyst with the anthology series “Catalyst Comix,” has done plenty of work for Marvel and DC. He said he’s approaching this series as though superhero titles have no rules. Each issue has three features, and the artists — Dan McDaid, Ulises Farinas and Paul Maybury – have styles that “are not quite the styles that you’re going to see on the Fantastic Four or on Superman … [but] they do superheroes, in my opinion, as well as anybody out there.”
Richardson, considering Dark Horse’s history, said, “In the beginning, we had superheroes — they just weren’t called that and they didn’t look like that. We had Concrete, Mr. Monster and the Flaming Carrot and all kinds of quirky superheroes and oddball characters …. So we had those characters, they just weren’t in the Marvel or DC style. Probably that’s why we’re still here and all the companies that we launched with back in 1986 aren’t here anymore. Because they tried to do exactly the same kind of books that Marvel and DC do.”
– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon
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