Dark Horse have a lot of new books out this week, with a variety of titles on offer. And if you’re looking for something a bit dark, a bit violent, and with a slight horror bent, these titles might just pique your interest.
Apache Delivery Service
Written by Matt Kindt, with art by Tyler Jenkins and Hilary Jenkins, Apache Delivery Service is a dark story about a young soldier in the Vietnam War, who stumbles across something dark waiting for him in the jungle. The soldier, who spends most of his time out in the jungle alone, uses his tracking skills to find enemy combatants, before calling in air strikes against them. Despite being great at his job he still receives scorn from his fellow soldiers for being Native American, with them nicknaming him the Apache Delivery Service, despite the fact that he’s Navajo, not Apache.
When he discovers grizzly remains in the jungle, bodies stuck on spikes as some kind of twisted warning, he gets caught in a trap and wakes up in the home of a man who’s searching the jungle for fabled Nazi gold that was supposedly stashed there decades before. Now the young soldier has a choice: he can either return to his base, continue killing, or he can team up with the man to find the gold in order to gain a new life for himself.
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Apache Delivery Service is a tonally dark book, one that puts some of the horrors of war at the forefront. Kindt doesn’t try to paint one side in the conflict as better than the other, and shows that the US troops were just as capable of awful acts as their enemies. The book focuses on these themes, and sets its lead character on a path where he has to confront some of the things he’s done, and makes him question what kind of atrocities he’s okay with going along with and excusing. The artwork reflects this, and has a wonderfully dark colour palette, and the art choices really help to bring certain scenes, and certain feelings to life. Whilst the story itself is engaging, the art is probably the biggest draw for this book.
Apache Delivery Service is out on 7th September from Dark Horse.
Kali is a book that will appeal to fans of Mad Max: Fury Road and gritty, violent war stories, as writer Daniel Freedman crafts a story that exists in a nebulous time and place that dystopia lovers will enjoy. Kali is the leader of The Matrikas, a gang of touch biker women who rove the desert, drinking, fighting, and causing trouble. But as the book begins Kali is a prisoner of The Machine, a huge army that controls most of the desert. She’s been stabbed in the back by her former gang (quite literally) and left for dead. However, Kali isn’t prepared to go quietly into the night, and instead sets out on a bloody and violent path of revenge.
Kali is a revenge story, pure and simple. There’s nothing really beyond that single character motivation, and it dictates the story, everything we learn about this setting, and the characters. But you really don’t need much more than that as, despite the story being light on lore and giving readers relatively little information, you never feel like you’re lacking anything. Freedman has crafted a pretty tight story where you get to know the central character well, and where you never really feel like you get the chance to slow down and breathe as her quest for revenge takes her across the desert landscape.
The books artwork is provided by Robert Sammelin, and it’s incredibly beautiful in a worn down, lived in way. This is a world where everything feels old, where the weapons, vehicles, and clothing could come from any period from the 1940s onwards, and has this strange timeless feel to it. But it also feels old in the book, with small details of wear and tear on everything, making every panel a piece of art where you can stop and take in the tiny hints at what this world is like. The characters all look fantastic too, especially the women. Kali and her gang look sexy, but they’re not sexualised. Their outfits drip with personality, showing off what they’re like and how they navigate this world. And I love how natural they look. They slouch when sitting, their body shapes are real, they have folds and rolls when in certain poses. It feels so far removed from the super thin tones and often sexualised superhero women, and it just feels like normal women. It is incredibly refreshing.
Kali is an action packed revenge romp through a dystopian setting that features tough, beautiful women tearing their way through men to get what they want. A revenge story with a female twist, that will appeal to a lot of people.
Kali is out on 7th September from Dark Horse.
We Have Demons
Scott Snyder is a name that some comic fans will be familiar with, thanks in part to his work with DC Comics, where he spent a long time on titles like Batman, and Justice League, as well as writing big events like Dark Nights Metal. We Have Demons is the first of his new creator owned projects, and much like his big DC event books, it feels clustered, overly complex, and ends up being pretty un-engaging.
The story follows Lam Lyle, a young woman who grew up with her priest father after her mother died in a car crash. When she was a little girl Lam was bitten by a venomous snake, and her father cut her arm off to save her life. She now has a high tech prosthesis in place of her arm. After her father dies, Lam learns of a secret that he’s been hiding her entire life, that demons are real, and that he and a group of secret global warriors have been fighting them. And now that fight has been passed on to her.
Whilst the plot for We Have Demons sounds simple enough it gets bogged down in overly complex concepts and ideas that make the plot pretty muddled. There are two opposing elements that came to Earth at the dawn of time, one good, one evil, and the evil one makes demons whilst the good one is used in weapons to fight them. Demons are also twisted humans, who can be anywhere and anyone, and the evil element is inside everyone on Earth and so anyone can become demons. And the demons wiped out advanced, ancient humans that we know nothing about.
It reminds me of elements of Dark Nights Metal, but in all the bad ways. Snyder seems to like his weirdly magic metals and elements. The plot begins slow enough, but moves at a very quick pace, throwing huge concepts around with multiple narrators that sometimes makes reading the story a bit of a chore. The fact that we only really get to know two of the characters, yet are given close to a dozen to follow and care for, hurts the book a bit too, and it feels like it could have used a tighter focus.
The artwork, provided by Greg Capullo and Dave McCaig is decent enough for the most part, and the early parts of the book are decent enough. However, once the demons start showing up the art begins to feel very messy and busy, and when there are multiple creatures on the page at once their shifting, twisted bodies all start to become a jumbled mess. The superhero outfits also feel pretty weirdly designed, and stand out against the rest of the book in an odd way.
We Have Demons feels like a throwback to the ‘gritty’ and ‘extreme’ days of 90s and 2000s Image and Wildstorm comics. Everything here feels like it’s being done for style over substance, and the result is a book that feels pretty shallow. The fact that the lead character is disabled, yet gets a magical high-tech prosthesis that just doesn’t seem to fit with the regular world setting also feels weird. Her mechanical arm works no differently to her regular one, and it erases her disability completely to the point where you begin to question why you’d have a disabled character if you’re going to do nothing with them. I really wanted to find something to like in this book, but it feels like an example of everything that’s bad about Snyder’s writing pushed to the max.
We Have Demons is out on 7th September from Dark Horse.