The latest issue of Dark Horse Presents #12 brings you 80 pages of ad-free, full-color illustrated stories, featuring a brand-new Aliens adventure by John Layman and legendary artist Sam Kieth.
Inhuman Condition: Chapter 1 tells the story of Miss Jean DuPaul and Bear, an unlikely duo in that Bear is an inanimate object – a fluffy pink teddy bear to be exact. While we’re only given an 8-page introduction into Layman and Kieth’s new story, it’s clear the series will be filled with plenty of acid-spewing Xenomorphs and synthetic “artificial persons.” It’s hard not to compare Inhuman Condition to those early Dark Horse Aliens mini-series like Aliens: Book One (1988), Aliens: Book Two (1989) and Aliens: Earth War (1990), which Kieth drew for Mark Verheiden.
Miss DuPaul is a woman who has lost her husband and daughter, and all she has left of her family is Bear, the stuffed play-thing that was to be her daughter’s. She’s evacuated from a colony by a task force of androids during a Xenomorph attack.
Inhuman Condition shows promise, even if it deviates from the world of space marines and Weyland-Yutani shenanigans we’ve come to expect in an Aliens story. In fact, it’s probably most reminiscent of Mike Richardson and John Arcudi’s four-issue limited series Aliens: Genocide from the early ’90s. Genocide was really the first Aliens comic to shift the focus away from existing movie characters and explore other aspects of the Alien universe, like the infestation of Earth.
Kieth’s art is good, but I’m not entirely sold on his depiction of the alien itself. Giger’s nightmarish architecture has been over-exaggerated, with the alien’s jaw seemingly dislocated from its phallic head, making for a more cartoonish (and less frightening) version of the creature.
Other notable stories in this 80-page anthology include Dean Motter’s Mister X: Hard Candy – Chapter 1 – a stylish detective story drenched in film noir. I’m not familiar with Motter’s Mister X series, but after reading this I’ll most certainly be adding his work to my pull list at the local comic shop.
Dark Horse Presents #12 features 11 stories in all, an excellent anthology with a great mix of stories that promises something for everyone. Obviously the main selling point is the introduction of Layman’s new Aliens series (in anticipation of Ridley Scott’s new film, Prometheus), but there’s plenty of other great stories like John Arcudi’s The Creep, with art by Jonathan Case. While this is a #2, it’s rather easy to jump into Arcudi’s serialized detective story. Oxel is a private investigator with a debilitating condition called acromegaly – where body tissues get larger over time due to over-active growth hormones.
The story takes place during the summer of 1987, where Oxel has been called in to investigate the suicide of a young teenage boy. The police seem completely uninterested in the case, unable to discern the motivations or any connections it might have to the suicide of the boy’s former best friend.
Overall, Dark Horse Presents represents a rarity in today’s world of comics – an impressive collection of 80 ad-free pages of illustrated stories. For $7.99, it’s a hell of a value for anyone looking for something different or to discover some new titles, writers, and artists to check out.