Comics Review: Dark Horse Digital App and comics review

(Source: Dark Horse Comics)

(Source: Dark Horse Comics)

Comic book publisher Dark Horse has lived to its name by keeping its digital comics distribution independent from famed online store Comixology. This week, I decided I would give Dark Horse Digital app and store a try.

One of Dark Horse’s big guns is Buffy, with continuing seasons after the TV series ended. As a celebration for the oncoming birthday of our favorite slayer, Dark Horse is offering Buffy’s Birthday Bundle: All the issues from Seasons 8 and 9 for $50. Season 10 is about to start and it’s the best way to get into it. I actually already have most of the Season 8 comics in trade paperback collections. There have been comics of Buffy far and wide before and after the TV series ended, but I focus only on the ones that continue after the canon story line.

Recommended. Joss Whedon produces both Seasons 8 & 9 and occasionally wrote some arcs and one-shots in. Season 10 is next.

Dark Horse’s bundles are the same that Comixology’s. They’re bundle for the price, not the actual item. You still get the individual comics. DH doesn’t have collections though. To counter that they do offer bundles every several number of issues for you to pick up, which is a plus on Comixology’s bundles that usually are starter packs. CX does have huge bundles from time to time – case and point the giant bundle that gave you every single issue of The Walking Dead. However, CX is the only one that offers you Collections – the actual TPB as one unit. They’re usually not cheaper, but they contain extra art as they are the actual digital translation of the physical copy. From the economical point of view, DH’s bundles look like a better deal. CX may not do incremental bundles but they do lower prices on individual issues.

(Source: Dark Horse Comics)

(Source: Dark Horse Comics)

The real big gun at Dark Horse is their Star Wars comics. I was interested because they also have the deal for that alternative story line, The Star Wars which is based on George Lucas’ original draft where the names and the characters are really different from what became canon. The Jedi-Bendu battle the Knights of Sith for control of the Empire. Annikin Starkiller is the young Padawan, General Luke Skywalker is the veteran Jedi, Leia is still the Princess, Han Solo is a big green alien and everything is a little off. It’s not perfect. It feels unfinished. Some scene changes are really jarring. I expected to see Vader like he looks on the original version of Ralph McQuarrie, but he’s not using his mask and only dons the helmet so far. Still, they’ve made some things to still look reminiscent of the original series. I couldn’t get in it, even after six issues it feels rough and quite forced.

In the end, all I wanted after reading this was to see the original series again. Unfortunately, I don’t see myself becoming a fan of this series.

DH’s digital app is made with a different mindset that CX’s. I just started using it and the first issues that showed up were posted as individual numbers which I thought it was a nightmare. However after a few issues were loaded they re-packed themselves into collections and the view is similar. You have the latest issue cover as the “folder” of the series, same as CX and the same as comic readers everywhere. I’m not sure what to make of DH’s way to download comics. The idea is you highlight what you want to download (the entire series, a season (all seasons or volumes are stored under a series instead of CX where they become series of their own) or an individual issue. If you are downloading 43 issues like me and the connection gets interrupted, then you can choose to download the entire series and it’s smart enough to only pick up the remaining issues.

(Source: Dark Horse Comics)

(Source: Dark Horse Comics)

I did end up getting the original Star Wars. There are several comic books, a lot of them featuring Vader (I guess he’s DH’s Batman here). I opted for the main comic with a new story line set in the old days after the destruction of the Death Star. The art varies from one book to another but this one felt right at home for me. This one started last year so a couple of bundles and #13 just came out last week.

Recommended if you’re a SW fan, of course. I might pick up one of the Vader mini-series too. Of course there are many other titles available at Dark Horse Digital, including a few that are also available on Comixology, but for the most part is their own content so it’s worth checking out as a store.

The major disadvantage with the DH application is that contrary to CX, you don’t have a particular Download area to see what’s still on queue nor the progress of the files. You have two screens – Store and Device. Device has your local stuff and will also show everything on the Store with an apple-like-cloud tag that you can use to download it. Or you can go to the Store and highlight stuff through Download via the Edit button (Edit = Download mode). Once that starts you can see the comic in gray with a transition line scrolling vertically giving you the progress of the comics. With no numbers or percentage except for a visual estimation. The problem is you have to find the exact comic. Under each collection you have a legend with the number of issues so you can switch to Device to see how many are already on board and the number will update with a new one.

Without an overall view of the download, after you have a few issues it gets impossible to see if the download is still going or not. You will get a message if it gets interrupted. You don’t get a message once its done. The message doesn’t tell you how many are still missing, you have to figure it out. Also, if you switch from the Collection to the view of the individual volumes/arcs/seasons sometimes it switches from Device to Store. I don’t get what it’s assuming you want to do there. I get that DH wants to prevent itself from looking like CX but they need a Download area. If there’s a comic you no longer want taking space in your Device, you have to Archive it so that it “goes back” to the Store. It’s really just an option to erase it and I don’t see the need to give it a different name.

That will do for now.

(Source: Dark Horse Digital)

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