Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dual/Duel Review: Dark Horse Super Sampler vs. Vampire Sampler

Dual/Duel reviews are an online smackdown between two books, movies, games, podcasts, etc. etc. that I think are interesting to compare, contrast, and comment on. For a list of other dual/duel reviews, go here.

One of the challenges for the 2013 Graphic Novels Reading Challenge is to read an anthology collection, with stories written and/or drawn by different authors. I thought this might be a bit tricky until I saw on Dark Horse's (they're the publishers of Hellboy) web site that they have some samplers for free download to the Dark Horse app (free for iOS or Android, though the comics can also be read on a computer). I chose the Dark Horse Super Sampler and Dark Horse Does Vampires Right Sampler.

The Super Sampler was published in January of 2013. The "Super" refers to all the samples being from superhero comics. Seven different comics are represented, varying from noir and WWII heroes up to present day supernatural and supersmart heroes. The stories are mostly origin/set-up stories, presumably taken from the first issue of each comic. As with any anthology, some are better than others. I was especially intrigued by The Answer!, which involves a librarian good at solving puzzles and a masked hero who fights crime. They both wind up dealing with a sinister motivational speaker. They are an odd couple of crime fighters and the villain seems pretty original.

Dark Horse Does Vampires Right is from May 2012. The title refers to the fact that their vampires aren't the emo, introspective, sparkling type that seem pretty tame in a lot of modern takes on the vampire genre. Six comics are included, though three of them are from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer line. The bit from the Spike comic is especially odd, since he is on some spaceship run by insectoid aliens with the usual challenges and comedy for him to get back to earth. The other stories are also spin-offs from previous material, including Guillermo del Toro's The Strain novels and the House of Night novels.

The vampires come from other intellectual properties, so there's a certain familiarity (and safeness, if you know how I mean it) to the stories, making them likeable but not surprising. The supers are mostly originals. Two I didn't like at all (e.g., the ultra-violent vigilante X seems like just another layer of corruption in his already corrupt society) but the others had a nice charm or intriguing premises (an ace WWII pilot flies into the Bermuda Triangle and comes out in the modern day has good potential). So I have to give it to the Supers over the Vampires.

Super Sampler

Dark Horse Does Vampires Right

Click the titles above to read these, they are free and you can read them on your computer!

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