The Best Dark Horse Comics: Where to Start With Dark Horse Comic Books?

Dark Horse is one of the most consistent comic book publishers, right up there with Image and Vertigo Comics, with a unique blend of licensed properties (Alien, Predator, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and creator-owned masterworks (Hellboy, Concrete, Mind Mgmt).

Below you’ll find a complete list of the best Dark Horse Comics so you can fully enjoy what the publisher has to offer. The various offerings are broken into sections, which you can enjoy and explore one piece at a time without worrying about crossover or reading order lists between sections.

Before you dive in, I’ll note that Mind MGMT, Usagi Yojimbo, Grendel, and Fear Agent all crack the top 50 of my favorite comics of all time. Additionally, Comic Book Herald fans may note that many of the Dark Horse Star Wars titles are now available via Marvel’s digital library service, Marvel Unlimited, due to the licensing rights changing when Disney purchased LucasArts.

Dark Horse Comic Books

Paul Chadwick's Concrete Comics

Paul Chadwick’s Concrete

This doesn’t do it justice, but imagine if Marvel’s Benjamin J. Grimm, the ever-lovin blue-eyed Thing, was freed from the tropes of superheroism and instead found himself exploring the depths of humanity in the late 80’s indie comics movement. That’s the foundation from which Paul Chadwick’s incredible Concrete builds, and rarely ceases to amaze.

Concrete: The Complete Short Stories, 1986-1989

Collects all of the concrete short stories that have appeared in Dark Horse Presents since that title’s first issue.

Dark Horse Presents helped launch the publisher in 1986, and Dark Horse Presents #2 included a Concrete story, which would become a mainstay from Paul Chadwick and the comics line.

Concrete: The Complete Short Stories, 1990-1995

Concrete Volume 1: Depths

Concrete vol. 2: Heights

Concrete vol. 3: Fragile Creature

Concrete vol. 4: Killer Smile

Concrete vol. 5: Think Like a Mountain

Concrete vol. 6: Strange Armor

Concrete vol. 7: The Human Dilemma

Eddie Campbell's Bacchus ComicsEddie Campbell’s Bacchus

The publication history of Bacchus is confusing as Greek mythology, but for all intents and purposes Dark Horse published much of Eddie Campbell’s excellent Bacchus, so I’m happy to include it on a best Dark Horse comics list (the license later moves to Top Shelf for what it’s worth).

Campbell is probably best known among comics fans as the artist on From Hell with Alan Moore, but Bacchus allows Campbell to fully develop a universe and mythology full of pathos and black humor.

Bacchus Omnibus Edition Volume 1

Bacchus Omnibus Edition Volume 2

Batman vs AliensAlien

Dark Horse’s first, terrifically successful foray into licensed movie comics. While these could easily be throwaway cash grabs based on some hot intellectual property, Dark Horse actually sinks top creative talent and ideas into their Aliens comic books, imbuing new life into the franchise.

Aliens Omnibus Volume 1

Aliens Omnibus Volume 2

Aliens Omnibus Volume 3

Aliens Omnibus Volume 4

Aliens Omnibus Volume 5

Aliens Omnibus Volume 6

Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series

Published two years after James Cameron’s Aliens in 1986, presented at the time as a comic book sequel to the blockbuster film.

Aliens: Salvation

Written by Dave Gibbons with art by Mike Mignola!

DC/Dark Horse: Aliens

Collects: Batman/Aliens #1-2, Batman/Aliens Ii #1-3, Superman/Batman Vs. Aliens/Predator #1-2, Wildc.A.T.S/Aliens #1

Prometheus: The Complete Fire and Stone

Collects: Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1-#4, Aliens: Fire and Stone #1-#4, Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #1-#4, Predator: Fire and Stone #1-#4, Prometheus: Fire and Stone–Omega one shot

Aliens vs Predator Comic Books

Predator

See also: Successful was, Aliens. Of particular note here is the fact that Predator has fought Batman in three separate out of continuity brouhahah’s, and in 2015 took on Archie and Riverdale in what can only be considered an all out glorious massacre.

Predator Omnibus Volume 1

Predator Omnibus Volume 2

Predator Omnibus Volume 3

Predator Omnibus Volume 4

Batman Versus Predator: The Collected Edition

The Bats v. Predator showdowns occur outside the continuity of either series, which is naturally for the best. The opening salvo is from Dave Gibbons and Andy Kubert.

Batman versus Predator II: Bloodmatch

Batman Versus Predator III: Blood Ties

Archie vs Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus Volume 1

Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus Volume 2

Robocop vs Terminator

The Terminator

This section of Dark Horse history contains one of the most fascinating creative team-ups in comic book history, with Frank Miller (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil: Born Again) and Walt Simonson (The greatest Thor run in history) teaming up to pit Robocops v. Terminators.

Terminator Omnibus Volume 1

Robocop Vs. The Terminator

By Frank Miller and Walt Simonson!!!

Terminator Omnibus Volume 2

The Mask

The Mask Omnibus Volume 1

The Mask Omnibus Volume 2

dark empire comicsStar Wars

While there’s been much ado since 2015 about Star Wars’ move to Marvel Comics, from 1991 to 2014 Dark Horse owned the Star Wars comics Universe, and they owned it well.

You can check out the full Star Wars comic book reading order for more, but it all begins with the excellent early 90’s comics from Dark Horse below!

Star Wars: Dark Empire

Mike Baron and Steve Rude Nexus

Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus

While this wasn’t published by Dark Horse for most of its 80’s run, Dark Horse has subsequently picked up the license and rights to the collected editions:

Nexus Omnibus Volume 1

Nexus Omnibus Volume 2

Nexus Omnibus Volume 3

Nexus Omnibus Volume 4

Nexus Omnibus Volume 5

Nexus Omnibus Volume 6

Nexus Omnibus Volume 7

Matt Wagner's Grendel ComicsMatt Wagner’s Grendel

I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed the first Omnibus edition of Matt Wagner’s Grendel. I was largely underwhelmed with Wagner’s popular Mage: The Hero Discovered, but Grendel is a stunning comics achievement.

Grendel Omnibus Volume 1: Hunter Rose

Grendel Omnibus Volume 2: The Legacy

Grendel Omnibus Volume 3: Orion’s Reign

Grendel Omnibus Volume 4: Prime

Frank Miller's Sin City Comics

Frank Miller’s Sin City

For my money it’s not my favorite Frank Miller comic (that title goes to either The Dark Knight Returns or Daredevil #168 to #191), but Sin City delivers exactly what it promises, with good, violent crime noir. If you came from the movie, you won’t be disappointed.

Frank Miller’s Sin City Volume 1: The Hard Goodbye

Frank Miller’s Sin City Volume 2: A Dame to Kill For

Frank Miller’s Sin City Volume 3: The Big Fat Kill

Frank Miller’s Sin City Volume 4: That Yellow Bastard

Frank Miller’s Sin City Volume 5: Family Values

Frank Miller’s Sin City Volume 6: Booze, Broads, & Bullets

Frank Miller’s Sin City Volume 7: Hell and Back

Dark Horse Indiana Jones ComicsIndiana Jones

Another example of a Dark Horse license that could have simply floated on by but instead offers fascinating creative talent like Walt Simonson, John Byrne, and Denny O’Neil.

Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures Volume 1

Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures Volume 2

Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures Volume 3

Indiana Jones Omnibus, Vol. 1

Indiana Jones Omnibus Volume 2

Dark Horse Superhero Universe

X Omnibus vol. 1

X Omnibus vol. 2

Dark Horse Heroes Omnibus Volume 1

new comic book series hellboy in hellMike Mignola’s Hellboy Universe

I’ve compiled a complete Hellboy reading order all the way through to present day, but you can get started with these initial Hellboy reads below!

Hellboy Library Edition, Volume 1: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil

Seed of Destruction

Wake the Devil

Hellboy Library Edition, Volume 2: The Chained Coffin, The Right Hand of Doom, and Others

Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others

Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom

Hellboy Library Edition, Volume 3: Conqueror Worm and Strange Places

Hellboy: Conqueror Worm

Hellboy: Strange Places

Usagi Yojimbo

Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo

If I could only recommend one comic book to a non-descript reader of any potential age, and my life depended on their enjoyment, I’d pick Usagi Yojimbo. Stan Sakai’s wandering Ronin Rabbit is an endless world of story, morality tale, and timeless action.

Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 1

Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 2

Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 3

Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 4

Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 5

Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 6

Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 7

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Comics Universe

One of the more interesting properties from Dark Horse, simply because it continues the legacy and story of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe, transitioning from television to comics.

You can view the full Buffy comics reading order, or check out the first post-TV season from Dark Horse below.

Buffy Season 8

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Library Edition Volume 1

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Library Edition Volume 2

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Library Edition Volume 3

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Library Edition Volume 4

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales

Lone Wolf and Cub comic booksLone Wolf and Cub

By Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima from Dark Horse Manga.

Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume 1

Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume 2

Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume 3

There are an additional 8 omnibus volumes until Lone Wolf and Cub concludes in…

Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume 12

The saga then continues in…

New Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 1 through

New Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 11

The Goon by Eric PowellThe Goon by Eric Powell

Perpetually underrated bonkers monster beat-em-up, with more than it’s fair share of irreverent humor and great art.

The Goon Library Volume 1

The Goon Library Volume 2

The Goon Library Volume 3

The Goon Library Volume 4

Conan by Kurt BusiekConan by Kurt Busiek, Timothy Truman, and Company (2000’s)

I’ve never been particularly up to speed with the long and storied Conan the Barbarian history, but like he did with the Avengers in the late 90’s, Kurt Busiek makes Conan accessible and instantly intriguing for a new generation of comics readers.

Conan Volume 1: The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories

Conan Vol. 2: The God in the Bowl and Other Stories

Conan Vol. 3: The Tower of the Elephant and Other Stories

The Hall of the Dead and Other Stories (Conan, Vol. 4)

Conan Volume 5: Rogues In the House through

Conan Volume 20: A Witch Shall be Born

Serenity by Joss Whedon

Because, let’s face it, one season of Firefly was simply not enough.

Serenity, Vol. 1: Those Left Behind

Serenity, Vol. 2: Better Days

Serenity Volume 3: The Shepherd’s Tale

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind

Fear Agent by Rick RemenderFear Agent by Rick Remender

One of my all-time favorite comics, and a comic that frequently ranks near the top of my “Books I want to read any time I think about them” rankings. Fear Agent may not be my favorite Rick Remender comic (I can’t say enough about Uncanny X-Force), but it’s certainly in the conversation.

Fear Agent Library Edition Volume 1

Fear Agent Library Edition Volume 2

The Dark Horse Comics of Gerard Way

And here I thought The Black Parade was the pinnacle of creative joy I’d get from Gerard Way.

The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1

Umbrella Academy Volume 2: Dallas

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Mass Effect Comics by Dark HorseMass Effect Universe Comics

One of my favorite video game series, with Dark Horse doing their best to expand the universe and add even more depth to one of the fullest stories in sci fi gaming that I’ve seen.

Mass Effect Library Edition Volume 1

Mass Effect Library Edition Volume 2

mignola baltimore comicsMike Mignola’s Baltimore

As a general rule of thumb, if Mike Mignola launches a new comic book series, give it a read, it’s almost certainly really great.

Baltimore Volume 1: The Plague Ships

Baltimore Volume 2: The Curse Bells

Baltimore Volume 3: A Passing Stranger and Other Stories

Baltimore Volume 4: Chapel of Bones

Baltimore Volume 5: The Apostle and the Witch or Harju

Baltimore Volume 6: The Cult of the Red King

mind-mgmt-ad-man-artMatt Kindt’s MIND MGMT

At the time of publication, I have MIND MGMT ranked as my 6th favorite comic of all time. That’s how much I love it.

Brilliant, unique, innovative. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

MIND MGMT Volume 1: The Manager

MIND MGMT Volume 2: The Futurist

MIND MGMT Volume 3: The Home Maker

MIND MGMT Volume 4: The Magician

MIND MGMT Volume 5: The Eraser

MIND MGMT Volume 6: The Immortals

Brian Wood’s The Massive

Post-apocalyptic dystopia in a different style from Brian Wood.

The Massive Library Edition Volume 1

The Massive Library Edition Volume 2

The Massive: Ninth Wave Library Edition

Dark Horse The Strain ComicsThe Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and David Lapham

The comic book version of The Strain, predating the FX series from Guillermo del Toro.

The Strain Volume 1

The Strain Volume 2

The Strain Volume 3 The Fall

The Strain Volume 4: The Fall

The Strain Volume 5 The Night Eternal

The Strain Volume 6: The Night Eternal

The Witcher comics

The Witcher Universe Comics

My all-time favorite video game of the 2010’s, expanded into a comic book universe from writer Paul Tobin!

The Witcher Volume 1

The Witcher: Volume 2 – Fox Children

The Witcher Volume 3: Curse of Crows

Best of the Rest

Flaming Carrot, Volume 3: Flaming Carrot’s Greatest Hits

Late 80’s fan favorite from Bob Burden that is sadly overpriced due to low circulation of collections.

Outlanders, Vol. 1

Science fiction space odyssey manga by Johji Manabe.

Classic Next Men Volume 1 TP

Graphic novel 2112 from the legend, as well as the launch of his Next Men series. No, I can’t imagine where he got that name either.

Oh My Goddess! Omnibus Volume 1

America’s longest running Manga, from Kosuke Fuishima.

Ghost Omnibus Volume 1

Dark Horse superhero universe, long running series.

Ghost in the Shell (v. 1)

Dark Horse manga.

Arzach

Moebius artwork collection.

Blade of the Immortal Omnibus Volume 1

Blade of the Immortal Omnibus Volume 2

300

Frank Miller and Lynn Varley.

Solomon Kane Volume 1: The Castle of the Devil

Adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s “The Castle of the Devil.”

Axe Cop, Vol. 1

Professional comic book artist Ethan Nicolle draws the unbound imagination of his five year old brother Ethan Nicolle in a gloriously fun action comic.

Dragon Age Library Edition Volume 1

Samurai Executioner Omnibus Volume 1

More excellence from Lone Wolf and Cub creative team Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima

47 Ronin

Superbly told legend by Mike Richardson and Stan Sakai.

Sundowners Volume 1

One of the more underrated series on this list from Tim Seely and Jim Terry.

Lady Killer

Black comedy taking the homebody wife stereotype and turning it on its head with a second life as a cold-blooded assassin.

4 Replies to “The Best Dark Horse Comics: Where to Start With Dark Horse Comic Books?”

  1. Hold up, hoooold up. You’re going to go all the way through a Dark Horse comics post and not even mention Groo the Wanderer!?! Captain Midnight isn’t here either…

    I’m mostly kidding.

    Usagi Yojimbo is probably my favorite comic of all time. I’ve read most of it through twice and will probably do so again next year.

    Groo and Usagi are the only two Dark Horse comics i read regularly, but i’ve tried a bunch of stuff.

    I read all of Captain Midnight and some of the other Project Black Sky material earlier this year. Maybe its because i wasn’t expecting much from it, but i thought Captain Midnight was great fun. I’m sad to see it didn’t do any better and that Dark Horse gave it a half ass ending. Most of that series is on Hoopla if anyone wants to give it a try.

    I tried Concrete but i didn’t really grab me enough to keep reading it. I’ll go back to it someday when i’m in the mood for something somber.

    Kurt Busiek and Carey Nord’ Conan is really really good. I’ve marvel’s Conan and Savage Sword. That one beats the other two.

    I had two of those Indiana Jones Omnibus books. I regret selling them off. I got each of them for $4. They just keep going up in price now.

    I’ve had Nexus waiting in my queue for a long time. The first several omnibus edition are on Hoopla as well. I might need to push it to the top of the pile.

    Its a shame they lost the star wars license. I’ve read quite a bit of their later material and its very enjoyable. I’m worried that the new marvel star wars is going to be too bland.

    1. Sounds like I need to read some Groo the Wanderer 🙂 It’s unfair, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to get past the “I am Groo” stage of this relationship.

      $4 for an Omnibus collection is a steal! Live and learn, I guess.

      My early(ish) take on Star Wars is that Dark Horse took the universe in far more interesting directions, but never had the Movie connections to tie-in as heavily as Marvel will. Will be interesting to see if Marvel ever plays in the expanded universe toybox in similar ways.

  2. Hi Dave,

    Have you read Jeff Lemire’s “Black Hammer”? It’s only six issues and one annual in but it is shaping up to be the most intriguing story I’ve ever read and possibly one of the best series in the superhero genre at present. It’s also getting a lot of love among both fans and critics on comicbookroundup.com.

    Thank you for making another amazing list for me to check out!

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