One of my favorite things to do is just jump on a series. Sometimes I jump on with the last issue without ever knowing it, which I believe is the case with Bad Dog. Frankly the cover, title and artwork is what drew me in and even though I had never read the series before I was able to grasp what was going on. Strangely enough I don’t know if I would venture back through the rest of the series having already read the ending, but I’ll definitely be paying attention should the series return. The story is in a way all about Vegas. It takes place there and many of the clichés that are associated with the city are present in some form or another in this issue. Especially any cliché saying. It’s also about a big fucking dog named Lou. Apparently he’s actually a Werewolf and a bounty hunter, though in this issue I think he’s acting as a body-guard more than anything.
If you’ve followed my reviews you may be familiar with my lack of love for structuring a story in such a way that we read the future or present first and then jump to the past or present and work our way back to the beginning (I need a name for it… the lazy man’s opening?). The reason I’m not a fan of it is that so many writers do it when it’s not necessary for the story. It’s become a lazy writing device of comics and again is used so many times a month that you probably don’t even notice.
I bring this up because Bad Dog starts in the present and works its way back to the past. The thing is Joe Kelly does it so well that you don’t notice. Rather than being numb to the writing formula, you’re actually just impressed by the seamlessness of the transition. It also makes the ending worthwhile and shows exactly how and when you’re supposed to use this writing device rather than “I don’t know how to start the issue and making it interesting.”
That said we actually open with a women going to work. I assume she’s blind because she never really looks at Lou and all of her comments involve smell. In fact I think he’s kept the fact that he’s a werewolf from her for some reason. It was a very Thing and Alicia moment if I do say so myself.
Our first introduction to Lou the bounty hunter werewolf is of him sitting a couch like a chair, gunshot wounds visible and plentiful and a giant steers head sitting on a coffee table. Well what’s left of a steer’s head. Also I should mention that Lou doesn’t transform or anything, he’s always in werewolf form and honestly looks more like a bear and a Shiba Inu had a baby that could talk.
I’m going to use this to segue into the art because as I said the art was what brought me into this world. Diego Greco is one talented dude. Greco’s artwork has this amazing photorealistic look to it when it wants to. The world, Lou and essentially anything that’s not human is super detailed and realistic. The humans in the story are realistic, but stylized. They’re a bit exaggerated in the face all of the features are very soft. It has this awesome cartoonish look at times, but because of the coloring it looks serious. I couldn’t get enough of the art and Greco’s style. It was clear from the first page that a ton of time and detail goes into each panel and each page making this a visual treat from beginning to end.
Kelly writes an interesting story as there is a ton of action going on, but there’s more than that. On the emotional lever there’s even more going on. While Lou is trying to save his client he’s being shot at by a mad woman. She wants to kill Lou because he’s the enemy of her master the Bull. It’s strange, but her beef (pun!) against him is important to her even if it’s meaningless to Lou. All of her actions make it so that Lou has to deal with her or he and his client end up dead. Also while all this is going on he’s struggling with the constant reminder of a lost child he didn’t look for.
Now coming in late there were smaller story elements and even a few larger ones that I didn’t really get nor have as much pay off with, but that was okay. They were good even if I didn’t get them. I could see that they were strings being tied off from the overall series and they didn’t take up too much of the story so it worked.
I really enjoyed this issue. I guess you could call it double-sized, but by today’s standards it’s a bit bigger than that. It was a rewarding read that kept a steady pace. It also shows the creative teams talents that I was able to pick up the last issue and get the lay of the land and understand what was happening. That wasn’t just the writing either since the visuals play a huge part in the success of this issue. Now, you may not want to take a chance on this issue if it’s your first. I get that, but the team actually puts together a story that is worth reading until the very end. I dug it and hopefully they’ll be back with more or at least another project and when it’s collected you should definitely check it out.
Writer: Joe Kelly Artist: Diego Greco Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/22/14