Escape into the world of Dark Horse

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By Stephanie Holland, Adrian Pascua, Desiree Perez

Cal McDonald has to protect the Devil’s spawn in “Criminal Macabre (Courtesy of Dark Horse comics)

By Stephanie Holland, Adrian Pascua, Desiree Perez

“Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby”

Desiree Perez

It’s a twisted world when criminals and zombies work together to fight vampires and rescue the devil’s spawn – throw in some baby talk and it’s down right despicable. But that’s the life of Cal McDonald.

In the aptly, if not obviously titled “My Demon Baby,” author Steve Niles throws another wrench into the already wrecked life of private eye McDonald.

This time, a Catholic priest requests the help of the cynical, foul-mouthed detective.

His newest mission: Find the leader of a Satanic cult and stop him from bringing the Devil’s child to Earth.

Unfortunately, Cal’s put on the case a bit too late. The baby girl has already been born. Now he’s got to find her.

As if tracking down the demon seed wasn’t difficult enough, McDonald has to overcome a ridiculous amount of obstacles in the process.

From his internal struggles with drugs and depression, his guilt about turning a baby over to its certain doom, and his outward battles with everyone from the cops to the reanimated corpse of the last Templar Knight, McDonald’s in a world of hurt.

The gritty art of Nick Stakal and Michelle Madsen pulls the reader in, forcing them to follow Cal through the dirt and the dark – whether they want to or not.

While the “Criminal Macabre” series is usually a fun read, the absurdity of “My Demon Baby” is just overwhelming.

And, if you thought the depressed and suicidal investigator was too much to handle, the nurturing, cooing Cal McDonald is even more revolting.

“My Demon Baby” is a good example of a story line that hasn’t grown up, and should have never been born.

“Black Lagoon”

Adrian Pascua

Somewhere in the South China Sea, where the eyes of justice are blind, there’s a company who’ll do any job for the right price.

“Black Lagoon” takes place where anything can be bought and sold, even lives.

In the city at the end of the world, Roanpur, a city that is run by outlaws, lives the crew of the vessel, the Lagoon.

The story of “Black Lagoon” is filled with explosive action and a hardcore storyline. Starting from Rock’s recruitment, a former businessman from Japan, recruited by the Lagoon Company after being abandoned by his old company.

“Black Lagoon” follows the Lagoon Company on every dangerous mission that they always seem to be involved in. The art work is done in a way that some might find provocative.

“Black Lagoon” was written and illustrated by Rei Hiroe, with the intent to thrill by giving the reader a type of anti-hero where you get the sense the characters are pirates, but only if the crew is paid the right amount.

The characters of Black Lagoon are nothing short of interesting.

Dutch, the Boss, runs the Lagoon with a cool head and the sage knowledge of an old pirate who’s lived in the world of outlaws, villains and war.

Benny, the Mechanic, keeps the Lagoon together with his expertise in high tech equipment and the knowledge of how to keep the company’s illegal activities under the radar.

Revy, the Two Hands, is the gun of the Lagoon. She’s boorish beauty that enjoys the sensation she gets from firing her dual 9 mm custom Cutlass, like some sort of grim reaper, with the devil’s luck for hitting her intended target.

The Lagoon Company does everything from piracy to smuggling and gun running to hi-jacking. It doesn’t matter the job, just make sure that the money is ready when the job is done.

This Japanese-style comic wastes no time jumping into the action as Revy finds Rock on the South China Sea on a business trip for his company and proceeds to punch him in the face.

Black Lagoon is not meant for readers under the age of 18. The language and violence are probably too much for younger readers, as Revy, Rock and the rest of the crew seem to constantly find that they are in the middle of some kind of a old western shoot out, with automatic weapons.

“Black Lagoon” may be meant for more mature audiences, but if you’re looking for something that’s not about the everyday standard of truth, justice and the American way that most comics are about, “Black Lagoon” gets the job done.

“Star Wars: Early Victories”

Stephanie Holland

Have you ever watched the end of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” and wondered what happens after the Death Star explodes?

If so, then Dark Horse’s latest “Star Wars” graphic novel “Early Victories” is right up your alley.

It picks up right after Luke blows up the Death Star and has become a hero to the rebellion.

The first volume, “Vader’s Quest,” tells the story of an angry, bitter rebellion pilot who finds his way back to the cause.

It intersects his story with that of Luke’s first solo mission and Vader’s search for the young pilot who blew up the Death Star.

While the plot feels familiar and predictable, Dave Gibbons’ and Angus McKie’s illustrations are the saving grace of this plodding tale.

“River of Chaos” is about a young imperial officer’s ambivalence about going along with the empire or protecting his new love, who just happens to be in the rebellion.

With only an appearance by Princess Leia to satisfy fans, this chapter feels slightly pointless in the overall scope of the “Star Wars” universe.

Despite true fans’ excitement about finding out what happens between “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back,” the plot of these tales don’t add anything to the “Star Wars” galaxy.

There is also the fact that you have to put up with Luke Skywalker during his spoiled brat, pre “Return of the Jedi” phase.

“Early Victories” may let readers in on secrets from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but it’s no victory for the reader to get through.

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