Must-read Titles from Dark Horse Comics
Founded in 1986, Dark Horse Comics ruled the 90s, and for a good reason: they were one of the leading comic book companies in taking risks with different kinds of stories. They gave people more options than the classic superhero tales fans are accustomed to from Marvel and DC. While it could be argued that Dark Horse Comics are a bit more niche, they are still one of the best comic companies.
Dark Horse suffers because most people know their work because of the Hellboy series by Mike Mignola. Sure, it is one of the finest comic book series ever, but the company has more than just Hellboy. This article will highlight a few so Dark Horse gets the credit they deserve.
Black Hammer is one of the more recent Dark Horse comics featuring a prominent writer, Jeff Lemire. He has had a very interesting career, having worked with Marvel, DC, and indie-based stuff like Sweet Tooth. Black Hammer is another one of Lemire’s forays into indie territory.
Be that as it may, Black Hammer is both an homage and deconstruction of the Golden Age superheroes. This is a classic trope, and Lemire stands out from the rest by adding many horror elements. For example, he makes the heroes trap themselves in a small town, which kickstarts many exciting events. This is one you should have on your must-read list.
Frank Miller is one of the greatest comic book writers of all time, and his work on Batman, Daredevil, and Wolverine is the stuff of legends. The Dark Knight Returns is regarded as one of the best comics ever. So when Dark Horse managed to get his services and released Sin City in the early 90s, it was highly anticipated.
Sin City is filled with crime and darkness, with Marv being this big, ruthless guy who spends a night with a beautiful woman called Goldie. Marv falls in love with Goldie only to find out that she was killed a few hours later, which prompts him to find out who was responsible and why.
This comic shows some of Miller’s most creative paneling work, and the use of black and white instead of colors adds to the noir feel of the series. It is a fascinating story that helped give Dark Horse a lot more credibility.
The Mask is mainly known for the movie adaptation with Jim Carrey and the animated series, but the manga deserves much more attention. It is a far cry from the movie… and that is probably a good thing.
The thing about this comic is that it combines a lot of comedy and dark humor with a lot of relentless violence. This is something to note because the original comic has the same initial premise as the movie but does a far better job depicting double personality in a nihilistic and gruesome way. Imagine Deadpool if it was a much darker and violent series.
The Umbrella Academy
Compared to other comics on this list, The Umbrella Academy certainly has a lot more notoriety because of the successful Netflix live-action adaptation in recent years, but the comic deserves more love. It was written by Gerard Way, who was also the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, and it provides a very interesting subversion when it comes to superheroes.
The focus of The Umbrella Academy is on a dysfunctional family of superheroes. It is an entertaining exploration of family dynamics and how having superpowers can worsen things in many different situations, making this one of Dark Horse’s finest hours as a publishing company.
The interesting thing about the Dark Horse comics is that they have been the source of many movies and series that have become quite popular over the years. The 300 movie, directed by Zack Snyder, is a perfect example, especially compared to the original comic book miniseries by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley.
The miniseries only has five issues and is fairly similar to the movie, but add Miller’s visual storytelling and the great art made by Varley, and it is something that deserves everyone’s time. It has a reasonably straightforward approach to storytelling but is one of those series that should be given much more attention.
Cullen Bunn is an author who tries many different things in his comics, and Harrow County explores his love for old-school horror stories. Of course, he adds some layers of folk tales and mythology to make things more unique in their regard.
Emmy is living in the South of the United States in the 1930s, and she will have to face many human and supernatural horrors. In that regard, the series also works as a social commentary on many different things, especially considering Southern culture at the time.
Tyler Crook’s art also needs to be singled out. This is because the series has a lot of dark settings and horror influences, which is why Crook’s art makes things a lot more compelling and exciting to many people. It is visual storytelling that raises the series’ quality and makes it work on a lot of different levels.
Sure, compared to other Dark Horse comics, this might not be as successful, but it is still quite good and should be given a lot more praise.
While everyone knows DC and Marvel Comics, don’t sleep on Dark Horse Comics. They have a deep catalog with some compelling stories for comic book fans of all genres. These are some cool titles we appreciate. Let us know in the comments some of your favorites,