Variety is a major attraction of the 23 pieces selected from this publisher's online smorgasbord for prospective comics buyers. The longest section features stories about three of Robert E. Howard's larger-than-life, macho characters—Sailor Steve Costigan, Solomon Kane and Conan—prefaced with a wistfully vainglorious personal reflection by Howard himself. Otherwise, moods and styles vary wildly from one item to another. Cantankerous, violent humor from Evan Dorkin's Milk and Cheese is not far from Jason Graham's creepy kiddy story but also in the neighborhood of John Arcudi and Stephen Young's gritty tale of the Old West acted out by talking beetles. Readers can jump from David Malki!'s surrealistic collages of 19th-century engravings to Francisco Ruiz Velasco's occult trench warfare in the style of Warhammer; fans of continuing stories can catch a new episode of the Hellboy-related B.P.R.D. or the first independent appearance of Captain Hammer, nemesis of Dr. Horrible. If any of these fails to please readers, they can skip a few pages ahead and find something completely different. Dark Horse's willingness to let creators try idiosyncratic projects is well and enjoyably displayed. (Mar.)
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