Storm Dogs issue #1
Doug Brathwaite, David Hines, Ulises Arreola
May I say how refreshing it is to just read a comic sometimes with no expectations and pre-conceptions at all? I love browsing comic sites and looking at what’s coming out soon, but it often means that you know quite a bit about what you’re reading before you’ve even got it in your hands. Pre-conceptions aside: Storm Dogs is bloody fantastic. I haven’t had a comic push my buttons like this in a while: strange, inexplicable going ons, hostile environments, dinosaury beasts, murder mysteries . A blend of sci-fi and crime and boasting some great art by Braithwaite , this first issue delivers so much promise, I am once more considering threatening you with issue by issue reviews of it.
It’s an impressive first issue, with characters and situations quickly set up: a task force from a technologically advanced planet arrive in the more primitively abled Amaranth to investigate a series of suspicious deaths. We are introduced to these people in a pleasingly neat way- as they turn off their comm links and say goodbye to those they’re connected with; the brief glimpses into relationships and conversations giving us insight into their personalities. They land in a place called Greivance where they’re met with the suitably (un)friendly sheriff and deputy and the two groups waste no time in butting up each other. The task force have little time to settle, however, as dispatch relates news of an attack and they head out to respond.
Amaranth itself offers a rich vein of storytelling for exploitation: boasting two indigenous species, all manner of beasts and dinosaurs, rich, wild flora and vegetation, a strange rain which drives anyone apart from native life-forms to madness and more. Brathwaite and Hines do a superb job of establishing the planet as the main and most curious character. Yes, there are obvious genre references and conventions, some of which work to settle the reader in, but I like the feel of the story so far – I don’t feel I know which direction it’s going to take and I’m eager to read more.
Braithwaite’s art is spectacular and does much of the work in creating an otherworldly atmosphere and ambiance: I do appreciate an artist who can draw a good beast, and he manages to convey a nice juxtaposition of the familiar normality of humans against their fantastical surroundings. That is again turned on its head when the task team venture outside to the aid of the mayday sent by a native transport vehicle; the panel of them below in their suits looking ominously bulbous, faceless and bug-like really stuck with me.
To conclude: at the moment I’m swamped under uni work and work-work but this comic is so good I’ve wriggled an arm out from under this mountain of books and paper to finger prod a review out for you. A great first issue which has left me with very high expectations. If you like your sci-fi, mystery and solid comics in general, you definitely won’t want to miss out on this one.