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...With a Dark Rider upon it.
10.14.2003 by Scott, every Thursday.

The warm weather keeps on trucking and the sunshine has been brilliant. Throw onto the great weather some great comics, and you'll be set. Trust me.

First comic on the stack this week is Lone #1, a new comic from Dark Horse imprint Rocket Comics. Written by Stuart Moore and with the art duties being picked up by Jerome Opena, who was this year's Russ Manning Award winner, given to the most promising newcomer in comic art. Lone is a western comic in a post-apocalyptic frontier, similar to DC's old Jonah Hex title.

Gunslinging green-haired Luke is a spunky 15 year old cowgirl with a mad on for zombies, but when they start to run the town over, she and her brother Mark are sent west to find a man named Lone, who is the only one who can save the town. Through the irradiated waste, Luke and Mark shoot mutant prairie dogs until the come across an ol'timer named Cletus, who takes them to meet Lone. Lone lives in the badlands, a place so radioactive, not even the mutants go there, and Luke, Mark and Cletus have to take a needle and wear radiation suits to survive there. But not Lone, who's sitting outside manning the grill. They plead their case to him, but Lone refuses to help them, until a group of zombies attack his homestead...

Lone was a surprisingly good read. Despite the way that the plot broke down, the characters are interesting and inviting, and Opena's art is, well, hard to describe. It seems to make a so-so first impression on the reader, but by the end of the 22 pages, you're made into a fan of his work. Some props have to go to colourist Michelle Madsen as well, whose palette was very complementary to the art. Lone #1 gets my approval, and leaves me anxious to pick up the second issue.

The next title on the pile this week is Syn, another issue new book from the Rocket imprint, this one written by Keith Giffen and pencilled by Greg Titus. Giffen is and old industry pro who has worked on titles like The Defenders, Lobo, Ambush Bug, Trencher, and Green Lantern, but is best know for his work with J.M. DeMatteis writing Justice League of America during the late 80's. Syn is a science fiction book, a story about a robot created to seek and destroy and machines harbouring pro-human programming or paraphernalia, but who at the same time, longs to be human. The introduction to the heroine is decent enough, but the story has little “pop” to it, until the hook at the end. Titus' art is seems to be a mix of animated cartoon and graffiti urban art, and inker Julian Washburn does his best to play that aspect up. While this does make the art stand out, it also makes it seem a little less fluid and more blocky. The series shows promise, and I'm interested to see where a writer who is better know for his comedic work will go with a more serious story, but the book needs to have a strong second issue if it's to keep me coming back.

Finally, with the Hellboy movie nearing completion, Dark Horse comics has been printing more Hellboy comics that you can shake a stick at. Well, two titles. But that's more than before, and more Hellboy is never a bad thing. This week I'll take a look at “Hellboy: Weird Tales”, and later this week, I'll tell you about “B.P.R.D.”.

Weird Tales is a collection of short stories in each book, with guest creators hoping on board to tell a quick tale. Talents such as Alex Maleev (Daredevil), Steve Lieber (Whiteout, Batman), Jason Pearson (Body Bags) and John Cassaday (Captain America) all have some input on Hellboy and his surrounding cast, Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, and Lobster Johnson.

The stories contained in the two issues I've read (namely #'s 3 and 4) were very eclectic, ranging from the surreal to the absurd and back. In issue three, for example, Hellboy battles an unborn demon child in a dream world, a vending machine, and a malicious 5 year old boy. Issue four, one could argue, gets weirder. The stories are fun, as strange as they may be, and with the exception of Cassaday's Lobster Johnson “Sunday comic”, are all self contained, making the book both an easy read if you're say on public transit like me every morning, or if you're looking to see what all this Hellboy-hype is. I've told you before how much I dig Hellboy, and now I'll say that “Hellboy: Weird Tales” is one of the best comics on the rack.

So there's some great new material on the racks, hiding behind covers you normally gloss over when you scan them. It's worth it to pick one or two of them up from time to time. On top of that, once the Hellboy movie hits theatres next year, you'll want to be the one who's been telling all your friends how good the books are. So go pick them up.


-Scott MacIver

*As an aside, every time I see another picture for the Hellboy movie, I get more excited. I was scanning hellboy.com today, and there were some great shots of Ron Perlman in full make up. It looks very sweet.

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