Best Dark Horse Comics Reads of November 2023

It was tough to decide on which comic books and trade paperbacks released by Dark Horse Comics would make the November must read list, and what’s presented are titles I’ve actually read from beginning to end!

Dark Horse Comics LogoAs colder nights settle into the Pacific Northwest, instead of regularly heading out to the movies, I’m all tucked in and reading a comic or two. My go to publisher is always Dark Horse Comics, and I turn to Dynamite and IDW after, and when I’m all out, it’s some random manga!

Out of the books I read from this month, I offer my thoughts on these titles:

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Azula in the Spirit Temple

Azula in the Spirit Temple Book Cover

At long last, the work that writer/artist Faith Erin Hicks told me about during Fan Expo Vancouver least year is available to read! All I really knew at the time is that Azula would finally get her solo adventure, and I’m loving it, plain and simple! This story takes a deeper look into this character, warts and all. Although I want to sympathise, what’s presented shows just how tough she’s become.

What’s shown looks at all the skeletons she wants to shove into the closet, and have a conversation with one more time. When they surface yet again, the big question is that will she be able to lock them up again? I won’t say what happens, but had this been made into an episode of the cartoon series, I’d be willing to bet it’d get fans talking.

This comic book creator’s next story is The Bounty Hunter and the Tea Brewer, which already has a listing on Amazon, and that won’t be out until mid next year. It’s terrific she’s a regular writer of these one-shots, and as for what’s next, let’s hope I get some information when I see her again at Terminal City’s finest fandom event.

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Riding a Dark Horse Halloween with these Trio of Releases

The big reason why I love celebrating a Dark Horse Halloween is because they offer frightful stories that’s worth revisiting time and time again.

Dark Horse HalloweenThis publisher never fails to knock it out of the park with their themed All Hallow’s Eve releases, and I’m always excited to check out what they got every year. If there was a way to rename the tradition to a Dark Horse Halloween, I’ll be voting it in! Ever since they released The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings (2003), Witchcraft (2004), Dead (2005), Monsters (2006)–four different anthologies–to the market nearly two decades ago, and usually outside the season, I was hooked!

One of this publisher’s earliest specials, titled Drawing on Your Nightmares Halloween Special (2003), featured stories from Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith, Eric Powell, Brett Matthews, and many more. To track this publisher’s history with the coming of the All Hallow’s Eve is a joy, and I’m glad to learn they are going to release a regular anthology starting this year!

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Animated Predictions Ahead of the 95th Annual Academy Awards

My predictions will be about the animated content that are nominated for the 95th Academy Awards, and afterwards, I’ll name my top three favourite feature films.

The Oscar Statue and the 95th Academy Awards Out of all the categories I’m interested in for the upcoming 95th Academy Awards, all I need to know is who’ll take home the statue in the category of animated shorts and films. Next is feature film only because the list will see a lot of top contenders–most of which I’ve seen–go head to head. I’m not only considering technical achievement but also the best performer in the package. And later tonight, I’ll find out if I’m even close to seeing my favourite works take home The Oscar.

When I’ve seen all these films than the handful when compared to previous years, what I offer are thoughts on who’ll make the top three out of the five or ten that’s been nominated in each:

Animated Shorts

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse Promo PosterThe Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse

The deeper symbolism nestled in an otherwise surreal narrative defines why this work must be one of the best. I enjoyed it because of the netherworld quality. But to know more, I recommend reading my review, since I’m finding it tough to say anything new without repeating myself.

The Flying SailorThe Flying Sailor

Like Puss and Boots: The Last Wish, a dreamy short takes the idea of asking, should we be afraid of Death? How can we confront it after being thrown by an explosion, and the only thoughts are, “am I going to survive the landing?” There’s more to this work, which my analysis and review covers. Between this piece and the next, they define the top two choices of which should win.

The Ostrich Told MeAn Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It

This stop-motion marvel wins because of its crazy meta moments. For example, there’s The LEGO Movie and The Matrix. That combination is a simple winner to me, after watching this work, I even have to question existence. And although we can’t penetrate past the veil of current reality, perhaps what’s out there is truly scary, indeed. The dialogue will leave you thinking about life, the universe, and everything, too!

Animated Films

Guillermo del Toro’s PinocchioGuillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Del Toro can do no wrong in his retelling of a classic tale. It’s dark and enchanting. I don’t need to say anymore. And between this and him also executive producing the next work, this year may well see him needing to build a shed to house all those awards he has.

uss in Boots: The Last WishPuss in Boots: The Last Wish

The exuberance and challenge of facing death upfront is what makes this movie special. With this title, we can learn why the writers went the direction they did, and hopefully cheer for Puss as he regains a new set of “regenerations” (but not like in Doctor Who) to allow more stories to be told in his future. For a full review, please check out my original post.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes OnMarcel the Shell With Shoes On

I’d be very surprised if this work wins. There’s a simplicity in this film’s design to really tug at the heart, and you just have to read my review to understand why this movie rounds out my top three choices for taking home the Oscar.

Feature Films at the 95th Annual Academy Awards

To be fair, some people are watching just to find out if their favourite film will take the top spot for best all around. In the 95th Academy Awards Feature Film catagory are these top three choices.

A poster of two men standing by a sea shore with a dog lying between them. The tagline reads: "Everything was fine yesterday."The Banshees of Inisherin

When stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are paired up to play two lifelong friends only to have it self-destruct, what’s not to like? We can learn from this film. Some of it will break your heart, given the lost friendships that happen to us all, but as for how we can all grow from it, that’s why this film deserves special mention.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

This wicked sci-fi family drama really breaks a lot of conventions, and Michelle Yeoh gives a performance of a lifetime when she plays herself, a character, a rock, and even more. Although it’s essentially about dysfunction, why this picture shines is that it too recognises the value of cinema and the choices we make. For spoilers, my movie review can be read here.

The FabelmansThe Fabelmans

After giving my review, some voters may well have to honour Stephen Spielberg. Even though they’re putting this work ahead of others, the film celebrates the early days of cinema from a perspective few rarely know about. To see how these early pioneers become the greats we respect now depends on how much of the real backstory you know.

That fictional version of Spielberg can also be the next Cecil DeMille or even D. W. Griffith (minus the rough spots). But after watching the mini-docs about the making of this work, it’s easy to know who this movie loves.

Top Three Dark Horse Comics Releases from October

The best Dark Horse Comics releases from October to enjoy Halloween with is wide-and varied, and my picks include:

Dark Horse Comics Reads #1 - The EC Archives: Incredible Science Fiction
Available to order on Amazon USA

I have found my top three picks of the best Dark Horse Comics releases from October. A few were provided ahead of street release, and they’re now available at a local comic book store near you. They make for fine reading on a cold night, when not everyone wants to experience the brisk outdoors. Tis the season to sit by a cozy light, enjoy the warmth of the fireplace and enjoy a graphic novel/novella. 

The EC Archives: Incredible Science Fiction leads the pack since I like to see what comics were like back in the days. This publisher is better known for its horror comics than educational storytelling, and to get a peek at what else they printed makes for some great reading. Grant Geissman’s forward gives newcomers a history lesson regarding comic book censorship, and Mark Evanier’s mini-essay explains why these works must be preserved. 

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Three Shining Ways to Celebrate Moon Festival!

Over the Moon (2020) - IMDbBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The Moon Festival is nearly here in North America! It’s already started in China, and this annual mid-autumn event is big. Pandemic or not, close-knit families are likely to gather to observe the moon and give thanks much like the American holiday of Thanksgiving. The tradition came about circa 17th century and it only gained in popularity since. It’s also considered to be the second most important holiday in the Chinese calender (1) and some make the time a three-day celebration! I plan on catching three specific films to respect this aspect of the event.

Another aspect is ritualistic. This includes burning incense and releasing candle lit lanterns so they will float up into the night sky like an air balloon. The best made ones with a carefully hidden helium baloon can float up very high to resemble stars.

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