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, Black Hammer).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Published two years after James Cameron’s Aliens in 1986, presented at the time as a comic book sequel to the blockbuster film.
Written by Dave Gibbons with art by Mike Mignola!
Collects: Batman/Aliens #1-2, Batman/Aliens Ii #1-3, Superman/Batman Vs. Aliens/Predator #1-2, Wildc.A.T.S/Aliens #1
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
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.
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.
Aliens vs. Predator
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.
By Frank Miller and Walt Simonson!!!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
Dark Horse Superhero 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!
Seed of Destruction
Wake the Devil
Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others
Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom
Hellboy: Conqueror Worm
Hellboy: Strange Places
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.
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
By Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima from Dark Horse Manga.
There are an additional 8 omnibus volumes until Lone Wolf and Cub concludes in…
The saga then continues in…
New Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 1 through
Perpetually underrated bonkers monster beat-em-up, with more than it’s fair share of irreverent humor and great art.
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.
Serenity by Joss Whedon
Because, let’s face it, one season of Firefly was simply not enough.
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.
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.
Mass 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.
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.
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.
Brian Wood’s The Massive
Post-apocalyptic dystopia in a different style from Brian Wood.
The comic book version of The Strain, predating the FX series from Guillermo del Toro.
The Witcher Universe Comics
My all-time favorite video game of the 2010’s, expanded into a comic book universe from writer Paul Tobin!
Black Hammer Comics
Get started with the first volume of this amazing series created by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston above, or check out Comic Book Herald’s complete Black Hammer universe guide!
Best of the Rest
Late 80’s fan favorite from Bob Burden that is sadly overpriced due to low circulation of collections.
Science fiction space odyssey manga by Johji Manabe.
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.
America’s longest running Manga, from Kosuke Fuishima.
Dark Horse superhero universe, long running series.
Dark Horse manga.
Moebius artwork collection.
Frank Miller and Lynn Varley.
Adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s “The Castle of the Devil.”
Professional comic book artist Ethan Nicolle draws the unbound imagination of his five year old brother Ethan Nicolle in a gloriously fun action comic.
More excellence from Lone Wolf and Cub creative team Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima
Superbly told legend by Mike Richardson and Stan Sakai.
One of the more underrated series on this list from Tim Seely and Jim Terry.
Black comedy taking the homebody wife stereotype and turning it on its head with a second life as a cold-blooded assassin.