The Dark Horse Book Of Monsters

Dark Horse Books

$15.95 US (Hardcover)

**** (out of five)


It is the end of a holiday tradition.

For the fourth and final winter, Dark Horse has released one of its Book Of… anthologies (past entries include Hauntings, Witchcraft and The Dead). This time the focus is on those big bad monsters.

Regular contributors returning include Mike Mignola, back with an original Hellboy story, and Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson with another one of their funny-yet-chilling canina adventures — this time focusing on the special bond between a dog and his boy.

Newcomers Arvid Nelson and Juan Ferreyra contribute a creepy tale based on their excellent monthly series Rex Mundi, while other creators like Leah Moore, Keith Giffen, Kurt Busiek get in on the act, helping this anthology go out in style.

Ex Machina: March To War

Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, Chris Sprouse

Vertigo/DC Comics

$17.50/$12.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2

Mitchell Hundred has had to make plenty of tough calls since making the transition from super-hero to mayor of New York City.

But the decision to allow an anti-Iraq-war protest that falls victim to a terror attack, killing four people and making many others — including Hundred’s friend and former employee Journal — sick, it can’t help but make for even tougher calls ahead.

Hundred uses his ability to "talk" to machines and is hot on the trail of the killer, but not even this brief return to crime fighting can prepare him for the final outcome of this tale.

Series creators Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris cook up another fine volume of this hit series.

Jae Lee’s Hellshock Vol. 1

Jae Lee

Image Comics/Dynamic Forces

$19.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2

Nine years is a long time to complete a four-issue miniseries, but Jae Lee wasn’t about to rush his labour of love.

Hellshock, Lee’s first creator-owned work, was a series that many comic fans gravitated to in the mid-90s. Dazzling, moody art and a cryptic, but telling story — which sees psych ward intern Christina Marceau begins to question her own reality after her dealings with an enigmatic patient named Daniel — made is a big seller.

But the fourth and final issue of the series never arrived.

Until now.

Lee, with help by his wife (noted colourist June Chung), finally puts the long-awaited cap on this series in this sharp new definitive collection. It’s well worth the cover price just for the sense of closure it will give.

Star Wars: Dark Times #1

Welles Hartley, Mick Harrison, Douglas Wheatley

Dark Horse Comics

$2.99 US


The Republic is at an end. Now is the dawn of the Dark Times.

Dark Horse’s long-running Star Wars: Republic gets a facelift with a new name and a new numbering as the storylines begin to move more into those aforementioned "Dark Times" between the end of Star Wars Episode III — The Revenge Of The Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope.

As Darth Vader stews as the Emperor’s side, itching to continue the search for his former master Obi-Wan Kenobi, the last remaining Jedi join on with the separatists whom they once fought in an effort to prevent the utter dominance of the Empire.

Former Jedi general Dass Jennir barely survives the eradication of separatist forces on New Plympto and, along with fellow survivor Bomo Greenbark, begins the search for fleeing civilians and a safe haven in what has become an ominous new universe.

The switchover from Republic to Dark Times is a most welcome one and should make for some terrific stories to come.

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