Tanpenshu Vol. 1

By Hiroki Endo
232 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

It’s always interesting for a creator best known for one specific work to suddenly have something else published. Hiroki Endo’s main creation that’s been officially released in English is the epic Eden, a science-fiction dystopia set in the near future. Based on the book’s mix of thoughtfulness and extreme violence, the idea of getting a two-volume release of Endo’s other (primarily non science-fiction) stories is an appealing one indeed. And in the end? It’s a strange combination of everything and nothing that I expected.

Read the rest of this entry »

Old Boy Vol. 1-2

Written by Goaron Tsuchiya
Art by Nobuaki Minegishi
208 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

When director Park Chan-wook’s film Oldboy won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, I was amused and impressed to hear that it was based off of Goaron Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi’s eight-volume Old Boy series. I figured the chances of me seeing the movie before ever getting to read the manga were higher—but it’s two years later and while I still haven’t seen Oldboy, I have read the first two English translations thanks to Dark Horse. The big question is if I can be patient enough to keep from running out and renting the movie just to find out how it all ends.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 1

Written by Eiji Otsuka
Art by Housui Yamazaki
216 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

One of the easiest way to get a new reader’s attention is with a good title for your comic, or a good cover design. In the case of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Vol. 1, both are provided. From the schematic design on how all the pieces of a body fit together, to the brown paper wrapper style cover paper stock, to the different colored inks to make up the logo, this is a book whose appeal has been carefully thought out and executed by all involved parties. And if the outside is that good, well, it’s hard to imagine that the inside won’t be as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Conan #29

Written by Mike Mignola
Based on a synopsis by Robert E. Howard
Art by Cary Nord
32 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

If you’d told me three years ago that Conan was not only returning as a comic book but would be one of Dark Horse’s biggest comics, I may have laughed in response. It’s Dark Horse who is no doubt laughing now, having proven to understand how to make Conan a hit. Their secret? Top creators working on exciting stories. (Simple, isn’t it?)

Read the rest of this entry »

Eden Vol. 1

By Hiroki Endo
216 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

Science-fiction stories about a future apocalypse are a dime a dozen. Like so many stories, the secret isn’t necessarily what the story’s about, but rather how it’s told. That for me was the case with Hiroki Endo’s Eden; while Endo’s basic ideas were good in their own right, it’s the storytelling that ultimately sold me.

Enoah and Hannah are living in Eden, but the rest of the world is anything but. A virus has ravaged the planet, killing most of its population. Now the only survivors are either those who were born with immunity to the virus, or people who have upgraded their bodies into cybernetic forms. When the outside world invades Eden, though, Enoah is confronted with the past of both his and Hannah’s protector, as well as that of his long deceased family. Can one spot of paradise still remain even as the rest of the world continues to crumble?

Read the rest of this entry »

Concrete Vol. 3: Fragile Creature

By Paul Chadwick
208 pages, black and white or color
Published by Dark Horse

One of the real joys of reading Concrete is that Paul Chadwick is able to use a wide variety of genres and moods in his series. One story may be a rip-roaring action adventure, the next a socially-conscious tale with no right answers. It’s something that I’ve really noticed reading Dark Horse’s recent series of Concrete reprints—that no matter what tactic Chadwick takes, it’s always undeniably Concrete.

Read the rest of this entry »

Usagi Yojimbo #90

By Stan Sakai
24 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse Comics

It may have been a while since I’ve checked in with Usagi Yojimbo; the book was one of the very first reviews I posted on iComics.com back in 1999. That doesn’t mean I don’t love the comic, though. Stan Sakai’s creation is one of the smartest ongoing series being produced right now, and when I read a new issue like this one it just reminds me all over again why it’s so good.

Read the rest of this entry »

Club 9 Vol. 3

By Makoto Kobayashi
192 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

It’s been a little over two years since the last collected volume of Club 9, and reading this latest set of installments reminded me once again why I love it so much. Makoto Kobayashi’s probably better appreciated for his hysterical What’s Michael? series, but if you’re skipping Club 9 because it doesn’t feature dancing cats, you’re really missing out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Intron Depot 4: Bullets

By Masamune Shirow
128 pages, color
Published by Seishinsha and Dark Horse

When I recently read Ghost in the Shell, I found myself more interested in Shirow’s art than his writing. Thanks to finding a copy of the fourth of Shirow’s art book series, Intron Depot, I figured this would be a chance to perhaps finally discover just what it was about Shirow’s works that people found so appealing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Art of Usagi Yojimbo

By Stan Sakai
200 pages, black and white, with color pages
Published by Dark Horse

One of the best comics being published at the moment is Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. Sakai’s stories of a ronin finding his way throughout the roads and paths of Japan are engrossing, and Sakai’s able to write his scripts pretty near-perfectly every month. With all of the attention paid to Sakai’s writing, though, it’s nice to see attention being paid to his art as well. That’s exactly what we get with The Art of Usagi Yojimbo, an oversized hardcover that looks at Sakai’s creation from an artistic standpoint. As enjoyable as Dark Horse’s earlier art books in this format were (The Art of Sin City, The Art of Hellboy, The Will Eisner Sketchbook), I have to say that I think this is my favorite one yet.

Read the rest of this entry »