TITLE: Dark Horse Presents – Vol. 1, Issue #4
YEAR: January 1987
COMPANY: Dark Horse Comics
Trekker: Story and Art by Ron Randall, Letters by David Jackson
Concrete: “The Gray Embrace” Story and Art by Paul Chadwick, Letters by Bill Spicer
Mindwalk: “Mindwar!” Part 2 – Story and Script by Randy Stradley, Story and Art by Randy Emberlin, Letters by David Jackson
Boris The Bear: “The Boris Chronicles” – Story and Art by James Dean Smith, Script by Randy Stradley, Letters by David Jackson
Front Cover: Ron Randall
Back Cover: Paul Chadwick
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Editor: Randy Stradley
In 1986, “Dark Horse Presents” would become the first comic book published by Dark Horse Comics.
Created to be an anthology title, the concept was easy, feature four short stories promoting the work of artists and writers and eventually Dark Horse Comics would become a hot title at comic book stores thanks to Paul Chadwick’s “Concrete”.
If anything, “Dark Horse Presents” would be remembered for being the comic book that launched “Concrete”, “John Byrne’s Next Men”, “Frank Miller’s Sin City” to name a few.
And while “Dark Horse Presents” would last through #157 issues in year 2000 to come back as “MDHP” on MySpace and an 80-page anthology second volume which would lasts for 36 issues and a third volume which returned as a 48-page anthology in 2014, the concept has remained consistent and popular for publisher Mike Richardson and crew.
The first story featured is Ron Randall’s “Trekker”, a futuristic story (year 2226) about Mercy St. Clair, a bounty hunter (Trekker) who makes her money taking on risky work in the violent streets of New Gelaph.
I have to say that “Trekker” is one of my top favorite stories art and storywise to be featured on Dark Horse Presents and the good news is that you can read the adventures of Mercy St. Clair via the “Trekker Omnibus” and two trade paperbacks which can be found online for a good price and the story of Mercy continues on Ron Randall’s website.
The second story features Paul Chadwick’s “Concrete”. The story about popular artist Ron Litghow whose brain was involuntarily transplanted by aliens into an artificial body that resembles concrete.
The story focuses on Ron’s life in his new body. Aside from that, the storyline is not supernatural, if anything, it follows Ron through the process of living with his new body, his personal thoughts, his fears of how society treats him. And unfortunately, people can be very mean towards him.
In this story, Ron thinks about being a ladies man at the beach and the only solace is by staying under the ocean, while watching the surfers surf by. But of course, Ron needs to have a little fun.
The next story is Randy Stradley’s “Mindwalk”. Garrett is taking on his older sister Rosamia (who has supernatural abilities) and she wants his girlfriend Crystal. Garrett does all he can to protect Crystal from his sister, who is much stronger than he is.
And the final story is “Boris the Bear” by James Dean Smith. In this story, Dave’s friend Steve and his bear, Boris the Bear are competing for his time. Dave tells Boris that if he pulls out the weeds, they can watch “Yog, Monster from Space”. Steve wants to watch with them and it leads to a back-and-forth exchange between the two competing for Dave’s attention.
Overall, this fourth issue (I don’t have the previous three) was a prime example of the potential of Dark Horse Comics. While the artwork is presented in black and white, the stories provided an alternative to Marvel Comics and DC Comics during the ’80s and continues to do that today but even at a more competitive market.
“Dark Horse Presents” came out before Image Comics and for indies, what you saw displayed was usually from Archie, Harvey, Viz or Eternity with a few other titles such as Aardvark-Vanaheim’s “Cerebus” titles by Dave Sim. But it was a comic book that you wanted to support because the stories and artwork was so good, you couldn’t help but hope that Dark Horse Comics would grow and sure enough, they did.