Review: Southern Dog #1

Well I need to start reading solicits better because I just thought this was a werewolf story set in the south. I mean it is, but it isn’t. Frankly I find this comic to be very bold. The subject matter is racism which let’s be honest is not a subject that comic books tackle often. The fact that it tackled the subject of racism with maturity and tact is enough reason for me to recommend it. The story starts off with an all-white werewolf being dragged behind a truck by his neck. When he comes to, he’s hanging from a rope after being lynched up by the KKK. Yeah this book doesn’t pull any punches to begin with and you’re likely to feel uncomfortable at the sight and that’s kind of the point.

From there we meet our main character Jasper who I can only assume turns into the werewolf we saw in the beginning. He’s hunting with his Alpha male father and his Alpha in training brother. They kill a deer and we follow them through all the way to dinner. All the while Jasper is narrating and it’s pretty clear that he’s different from his brother and dad. We get a view into the family or at least the father’s political view when Jasper’s brother expresses his view on our current President. Since junior is too young to actually create an opinion it’s pretty clear that he’s just copying dear old dad.

We head to school with Jasper and get another dose of racism in the classroom from one of his classmates. The subject is conveniently the Civil War which seems to instantly stir up the subject. After school we learn more about Jasper’s dad and how he has some new ideas, but he describes them as a return to traditional thinking. He says this on a hunting trip with a senator and a mayor and it’s here that Jasper is bitten by a wolf in the woods.

SouthernDog_issue1_cover_solicitThe pacing of the story is what it is. It’s has to proceed a certain way and while that makes it clunky to talk about, reading it is actually pretty smooth. The story itself is good. Again I think it’s great that Jeremy Holt is addressing the subject of racism in a comic book. The only thing I noticed were the few conveniences like the kid instantly using a racial slur in class. The subject of the Civil War and of course our current President. What really shocked me was the “reverse” racism that happens later on in the story. While I understand the subject matter I worry that it’s going to be hitting people over the head with it too much and they’ll tune out. That would be a grave misfortune, but I could see it happening easily.

The brother comes across as a psychopath that’s one day away from climbing a bell tower and shooting people. I mean not everyone gets along with their siblings, but to point a gun at one as they wake up as a joke is a bit much.

The art is really good. It’s detailed and clean and really the perfect match for the story. The brothers actually look like brothers and the werewolf at the beginning is unique and not just a copy of what’s come before. The fact that it has white fur was interesting and made it stand out. The coloring was a bit flat. It’s not bad, but it could have been more vibrant and added to the story that way.

This comic wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I’m very curious to see how it proceeds especially with the ending. If there’s one thing that Southern Dog proves, it’s that comic books are a versatile medium open for any subject matter. Be bold and pick up this issue, you won’t be disappointed.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Jeremy Holt Artist: Alex Diotto Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment Price: $2.99 Release Date: 8/13/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital