Dog Eaters #1

The opening captions of this new Dabel Brothers miniseries do an effective job of establishing the setting and mood of this post-apocalyptic adventure:

“Mankind failed in its first attempt to transcend the Petroleum Age. The Die Off killed nine out of ten people worldwide.

“One hundred and seventy five years later, civilization consists of scattered nomadic tribes, isolated casino-cities, and roving bands of predatory bandits. This is the world of the Black Dog clan.”

Dog Eaters, then, is a Road Warrior pastiche crossed with an old-school wagon trail western. Only instead of traversing the wasteland in horse-drawn covered wagons, the extended family of the Black Dogs travel in a variety of tricked-out armed and armored trucks, RVs and such. Where they come up the gasoline, engine oil and tires remains a mystery.

Lamont, leader of the clan, has an admirable endgame in mind: to settle on a gulf coast and establish a new city. In order to make that dream a reality, his intrepid convoy makes delivery runs across the tortured landscape. Naturally, there are rival clans on the prowl who are not so noble of purpose…

The main action set-piece of this issue concerns a gunfight with such a clan, a wild pack of mohawked punk bikers straight out of central casting. Fans of gunplay and carnage should enjoy the show, though having the majority of the issue dedicated to one long action scene may leave the reader feeling the story raced by too fast and they didn’t get their four dollars’ worth. Writer Malcolm Wong does manage to shoehorn some character development into the last few pages. There are a few tender moments between the Dogs’ pigtailed tween gunner Tracy and the Northern nomad she accidentally shot down during the fight. There is also an intriguing love rectangle developing as Lamont moves out of his first mate’s trailer and weds a younger girl he’s impregnated-- a girl who formerly was dating one of the young bucks in the clan.

Guillermo A. Angel’s artwork shows both manga and European influences. The character designs are interesting. Some of the violence gets rather gory at times (which is not a minus in my book, I just thought squeamish readers). There were a few cases where I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at, for example before the fight Tracy is talking to a little dog and for the life of me I can’t figure out if “Mr. Fluffy” is meant to be a real dog or a toy. (If he is real he’d better watch his back, considering the title or the comic and all) But for the most part, the art is quite good.

Dog Eaters may deserve some flak for its derivativeness and spotty pacing, but overall I have to say I enjoyed it. After one issue its hard to predict whether it will ultimately satisfy, but I liked it enough to check back in next issue to see what Wong and Angel have in store.

Oh, and by the way: I don't recommend that anyone google "dog eaters". You will get a lot of hits that have nothing to do with this comic. Trust me, don't go there.

Rating: 7.5/10

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