Rob Orr writes for Bleeding Cool from ECCC.
Dark Horse Comics is a force to be reckoned with at this year’s Emerald City Comicon. They put together (arguably) the best booth of the convention. Their name and logo are emblazoned upon the lanyards which secure attendees’ passes. So what did they have in store for us as they kicked off the panels in Hall B?
It seems Dark Horse is looking to the past to lead them into the future. Along with some amazing new characters, the focus of the “Dark Horse Heroes” panel seemed to be revitalizing some old, seemingly forgotten superheroes to lead us into the next generation of tights and fights from a publisher which most people associate with horror, noir, and adaptations of popular properties such as Star Wars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
On hand for the discussion were: Michael Oeming (The Victories), Francesco Francavilla (The Black Beetle), Frank Barbiere (Blackout), best-selling editor Patrick Thorpe (The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, Ghost), Joshua Williamson (Captain Midnight), and the vivacious Kelly Sue DeConnick (various Marvel tiles and Ghost), and moderated by Dark Horse Director of Public Relations, Jeremy Atkins.
Dark Horse is looking to bolster their superhero lineup by, “Re-establishing characters in new ways.” So what does this mean? Below is a quick rundown of the panel, with both old and new information.
As originally announced at last year’s ECCC (if the series took off), Michael Oeming’s excellent title, The Victories, will now be an ongoing series. Look for individual, character-driven story arcs, which weave together into large narratives with an emphasis on “esoteric conspiracy.” This gritty, gonzo title is a must-read.
Francesco Francavilla’s sold-out hit, The Black Beetle, will also be an ongoing series. Look for a continuation of mixed elements which, “Made old pulps so entertaining.” The next arc will feature a female villain. Do not miss out.
Bloodhound is an old DC character getting pulled out of prison to fight crime in a new start within the pages of Dark Horse Presents. Look for the old DC villains to be replaced by characters from Dark Horse. Collected material from the old series will also be published.
Another character being re-imagined in new stories on the pages of Dark Horse Presents is Trekker. Look for an omnibus collection to get you caught up with her past exploits.
Catalyst will kick off with the unique stylings of Joe Casey taking the helm, with the impeccable Paul Pope handling cover duties. This title will feature a new indie artist being subbed in to take over every three issues. Very intriguing.
An old Dark Horse title rising from the ashes is Ghost, being written by Kelly Sue DeConnick—now as an ongoing title. Of the apparition out to find justice, Kelly Sue said, “She’s kind of a badass.” The creator when on to further quip, “She’s back and she’s mad!” Apparently the character is influenced by a bold Russian journalist (whom, despite Ms. Sue spelling her complex name out for us frantically note-taking journalists in attendance, I was unable to find. Maybe she’ll leave a comment on this article and elucidate us.) She went on to add that the city in which the story takes place (Chicago) will not so much be a setting as its own character of sorts.
X is another returning title to Dark Horse. This hero, defending the city of Arcadia without any superpowers, sounds badass. A criminal’s first offense will result in a slash across the face. Upon the second offense the get another and will be, ahem, “X’ed” out (if you catch my drift). Eric Wynn will handle art duties on this title.
“This hero is older than any of you,” Jeremy Atkins exclaimed. An old-school hero from the golden days of radio serials, Captain Midnight, is coming to Dark Horse. This new ongoing title features a scientist who wanted to save the world, thinks he’s always right, is disappointed with modern culture, and is “Kind of a jerk,” as Joshua Williamson put it. None the less, you can tell Dark Horse is pretty excited about this one. It should be interesting.
The title which piqued my interest the most was Blackout. Created by Dark Horse’s big man himself, Mike Richardson, Blackout is an “everyday man” whom possesses a suit which enables him to “enter other dimensions and manipulate space/time.” I’m sold. Freddie Williams II will handle art duties as this series debuts in Dark Horse Presents.
Using the award-winning anthology, Dark Horse Presents, is (in my humble opinion) a smart strategy for Dark Horse. It’s nice to see the title which the entire company was built upon play such a prominent role in spawning ongoing titles. I’m curious about why these old characters are being rejuvenated instead of developing new creator-owned heroes (which has seemed to work out well this past year). In any case, it looks like Dark Horse should have some interesting new spandex to consider. Will “Big 2” superhero readers take notice? I guess we’ll find out.