Friday, December 31, 2010

Dark Horse Presents #3: "Black Cross"

Download Darkhorse Presents #3

Conrad is a man branded by his actions as "Black Cross" as he fights to survive in a bleak, dystopian future rife with violence and death. The story oozes with high-octane testosterone, but it also exudes tenderness and compassion tempered with old fashioned chivalry and gallantry. If you enjoy a well-told story set during the soon-to-near future, then this is the comic book for you.

Story and art: Chris Warner.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dark Horse Presents #1: "Black Cross"

Download Darkhorse Presents #1

A combination sampler and auditioning spot, Dark Horse Presents, a black-and-white comic, thrived for 157 issues from the summer of 1986 to the summer of 2000. During that time it introduced such features as Paul Chadwick's Concrete and John Byrne's The Next Men and also ran episodes of Frank Miller's Sin City, Evan Dorkin's Milk & Cheese, Mike Mignola's Hellboy, and Arthur Adams' Monkeyman & O'Brien. In addition, the monthly showcased adaptions of such movie-generated characters as the Predator and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Story and art: Chris Warner.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dazzler #32: "Moon Lighting"

Download Dazzler #32

The only disco singer who ever became a superhero, Allison Blaire was given a Marvel comic of her own early in 1981. A mutant and a reluctant law student, she was first on display in X-Men #130 (February 1980), an issue drawn by John Byrne and written by Chris Claremont. After a few more appearances with the X-bunch, she graduated to Dazzler. Her basic ability involved converting sound, especially music, into bursts of radiant light that were so intense they temporarily blinded her opponents and usually knocked them cold. In other words, she could dazzle people.

According to an article by Richard Gagnon in a 1986 issue of Amazing Heroes, "the idea to create a singer who has super-powers came not from Marvel Comics, but from Casablanca Records... The idea was to have a singer tour the country dressed as the Marvel character, thereby both the comic and the singer would gain free publicity." The project, initiated in the late 1970s, eventually produced Dazzler, but by that time the record company had long since withdrawn. Marvel continued alone and after trying the character out in X-Men launched their Dazzler title with considerable fanfare. They also offered the book for sale only in comic shops, something that could be done in the days when newsstands still handled comics. The first issue sold well.

Allison had a tendency in her early days, when she wasn't acting as a one-woman light show, to speak in a slangy, showbiz manner—"World savin' ain't my style... I prefer singin' my heart out to an audience that really digs me." She eventually modified her speech patterns, particularly in the later issues written by Archie Goodwin.

Dazzler's initial run, mixing singing with combating such villains as Dr. Sax, the Enchantress, and Dr. Doom, ran until #42 early in 1986. Like many another singer, Allison's popularity faded and the cover of that final issue covered the unkind blurb—"Because you demanded it—the LAST issue of Dazzler!"

Dazzler also appeared in a four-part series with the Beast. She has made occasional comebacks since then and even had an affair with Longshot.


Cover painting: Bill Sienkiewicz
Script: Jim Shooter (Co-Plotter) and Mike Carlin
Pencils: Mark Bright
Inks: Vince Colletta

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