Blade of the Immortal

Dark Horse in December 2016

Dark Horse has solicited three different reprint projects for December 2016 that caught my eye for different reasons:


Blade of the Immortal

Blade of the Immortal Omnibus

The “Blade of the Immortal Omnibus” collects the first three books of Hiroaki Samura’s series with one binding.  For only $20, it’s a steal.

I read the first 8 or 10 trades before I lost track of the story and fell off the wagon, but I loved them a lot.  Even without reading the series to the end — which lasted 31 books — I can recommend the first half dozen without reservation, before the story got a little confusing and lost me.  Maybe it’s time to give them a second chance?

The idea behind the series is that a samurai has been cursed to kill 1000 bad men before he can have his mortality back.  This is to make up for the 100 good men he had killed earlier in his life.  He comes across a teenage girl who wants to get revenge for her parents’ death and agrees to help her.

It’s a good set-up for a story, but it’s Samura’s art that is the star of the series.  It’s beautifully detailed pencil work that would only suffer from inking. He does crosshatching and shading and every other trick in the book with his pencils to pull these pages off. The splash pages where a character unleashes their secret fighting move can be even more over the top in their detail and beauty.  Imagine Gerhard drawing manga. It has that level of intricate work put into those pages.

Look for the first Omnibus edition in time for Christmas this year.  It’s 576 black and white pages for $20, in the standard 6 x 8 inch (roughly) format.



A Book With Lots of Muscle

Conan Omnibus

I’m not a Conan fan.  While lots of mega-talented artists have worked on books starring the character, the stories have never captured my imagination.  I’m not saying they’re bad; they’re just not my thing.  I’m sure I’m missing a lot of jokes in the first “Cerebus” volume because of that, but I’ll live.

The one exception to this is the run on the series that Kurt Busiek put together with Cary Nord a few years back.  And now, Dark Horse is putting all of those issues under one cover.  The trade paperback book is called “Conan Omnibus Volume 1: Birth of the Legend.” It’s 472 pages of Busiek/Nord, along with those fill-in issues from Tom Mandrake, Greg Ruth, and Thomas Yeates.  Those issues are good with moments of great art, but it was always Nord who drew me into this series.

It’s tough to explain why these books felt different to me.  Maybe it’s my familiarity with Busiek’s writing style and appreciation of it. Maybe it’s Nord’s pencil style that looks so nice, even colored up.  Not every story captured me entirely, but they all interested me.  So if you like Conan to begin with, you should find a lot to like here.

The book is on sale at the beginning of December for $25 in standard comic size.


The Book That Refuses to Not Be Finished

Gun Theory HC
Finally, there’s a “Gun Theory” hardcover coming on December 21st. This is a classic case of a comics project that just wouldn’t die.  In case you haven’t followed the soap opera that is “Gun Theory,” it goes back to the Bill Jemas days of Marvel.  Remember Epic Comics?  Daniel Way and Jon Proctor started “Gun Theory” as a four issue limited series for Epic in 2003.  That publishing plan disintegrated, though, after only two issues of the mini came out.

The pair took a break from “Gun Theory” after that to decide what to do, and to let the foul taste of the Epic process wash away.  

Fast forward a decade to 2013. Way and Proctor Kickstarted a new editon of the project.  It would now be a 120 page graphic novel, and be started over from scratch to update the story and restore things that didn’t into the original format.

The Kickstarter failed, raising only a quarter of the necessary funds.

During all this time, by the way, Daniel Way has had a successful comics writing career, mostly at Marvel Comics.  Jon Proctor hasn’t really done comics in the last eight years, his last regular work being the “Black Diamond” series at AiT/PlanetLar.  He has a busy career doing illustration work for other types of publishes and corporate clients.

Now, they’re back at it again!

Looks like time has healed the wounds of dealing with a publisher for “Gun Theory,” because Dark Horse will be the final home for the graphic novel as of December.  It comes in at 152 pages for $25.  13 years in the making, it looks like the publishing saga is complete.  

Or, it’ll be complete until Dark Horse publishes the softcover edition, a movie studio options it, and a sequel rushes to meet the movie release date.

After all of this, if you’re curious what the book is about, here’s the solicitation:

Everyone who’s laid eyes on Harvey is dead. That’s because Harvey is a hired killer whose victims never see him until it’s too late. Through years of practice, Harvey’s appearance and demeanor have become so devoid of humanity that he has become invisible. Unknowable. Untouchable. Until Harvey meets a woman who, strangely, can see him. From superstar writer Daniel Way (Deadpool, Wolverine: Origins)!


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