There are, in my humble opinion, comic properties that should live and die in their era of creation. Not every character is timeless. Nor is there the need to bring everything back again and again. Enter Sixpack and Dogwelder: Hard Travelin’ Heroz, from the same publisher that brought us Before Watchmen. I say that never having read Before Watchmen, but also as a comic reader that never hears about anyone giving two shits about it either. Usually, I like Garth Ennis. Usually. There is no other way to say this, but I hated this book.
It is not for me. It is for anyone that enjoyed Hitman and read that like the Holy Bible of 90s comics. That’s not a bad thing either, but we’re far removed from the 90s and DC as a publisher is far removed from anything resembling their dominance of the decade as well.
Get ready to gasp.
I’ve never read Hitman. Now, I never will read Hitman.
If this book is any indication of what to expect from Hitman, then I’m past the point that I could read it and enjoy it. It’s kind of like watching Animal House after you’ve already watched everything inspired by Animal House and just being able to appreciate where the gags came from, but not enjoying the gags themselves.
I’m reviewing this book from the standpoint of a new reader. Someone who walked into the shop and saw a new first issue from Ennis and DC and it looks ridiculous and fun. If you’re already a fan of this book, if you knew well before reading it that you were going to love it then save your comment. This review isn’t for you. We’re not going to agree, and I don’t need to hear your history lesson on Garth Ennis’ writing. That and shit like that doesn’t matter. What is important is in the book. And what’s there, isn’t inviting to new readers, nor is it polished in the sense that it even reads like a first issue.
Other than all the cameos that were forced and senseless, there’s not a lot that makes sense in this “first” issue. Dogwelder spies on his family… I assume. He tried to weld dogs to his kid’s faces… I assume. There’s a lot of “you’re a great new dad to them” talk, and then we’re off to a bar. At the bar, Sixpack talks. He talks a lot. Something about needing a job and not getting the respect of the other teams in the DCU. The Spectre shows up making what’s possibly his first Post 52 appearance. Constantine is hinted at. Jokes from the 90s that have been reused, redone and abandoned run rampant throughout the issue, and if I were the sensitive type, I would say that a lot of politically incorrect jokes were made. I’m not, so I’ll say that a lot of dated and weak jokes were attempted.
The art is… there. It’s inoffensive. It looks as if it’s trying to match a style it shouldn’t. It looks dated at times, but then not. It’s strange, to say the least. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it. It clearly has a personality of its own, but not one that I would personally seek out again.
This issue and possibly this storyline, feel like something pulled out of the drawer. Something abandoned because of low sales or an event that would make it fit awkwardly with whatever else DC had going on at the time. It looks and feels like the old DCU, but not in a way that makes you miss it. Instead, it kind of reminds you that the New 52, for all its faults and lack of history, cleaned up a lot of turds floating around. This story could have worked, but it needed to do a lot more than just embrace the current costume designs of its characters. That and books starring the supporting cast of a popular character always suck. While I don’t need to say this, I want to: I won’t be back for the remaining five issues.
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Sixpack and Dogwelder: Hard Travelin’ Heroz #1 Writer: Garth Ennis Artist: Russ Braun Publisher: DC Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital