Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist/Cover: Michael Dipascale
Review by Eric Owens
Comics have been through their Golden Age, Silver Age, etc. With the ever-increasing number of comics about the end of humanity, this could be the Age of Apocalypse, assuming you don’t mind risking a lawsuit from Disney. Joining the pack is Garth Ennis’ Rover Red Charlie, the story of three dogs trying to survive while the human race tears itself apart.
For reasons that aren’t made clear, the citizens of New York City and quite likely the rest of the world are suddenly killing themselves and each other in horrible, violent ways. There are a surprising number of New Yorkers walking around the 14th Street subway terminal with cans of gasoline. One of them is the feeder of Charlie, a guide dog. Coming to his rescue are the dumb but loyal Red, the rather British Rover, and to a much lesser extent, Max. Take note that his name isn’t in the title and draw your own conclusions. From there, the dogs are off into a city of chaos.
One of the clever aspects of this book is the dogs’ speech patterns. For the most part, they sound like humans, right down to Rover’s accent. However, they don’t quite have the same vocabulary, so words and expressions get changed around a bit. For instance, “fire” and “smoke” become “burn” and “choke” and “lording it over us” is instead “Rexing it over us.” Your milage may vary on whether you enjoy it or find it grating. Too much of it would likely get old quickly.
Although it isn’t the main focus on the book, hopefully we eventually get some answers about just what is going on with humans. The titular trio are likable enough and you definitely don’t want any harm to come to them, but it would be nice to know what sort of event happened to put them in this position.
Dipascale’s art is beautiful, even when it’s depicting the horrific. He doesn’t shy away from showing the brutal behavior all of the people are suddenly engaging in. Keep this in mind if cruelty toward animals, even entirely fictional ones, turns your stomach. Overall, he draws the dogs in a realistic style. He gets the little gestures like ear and tail movement down, giving us a feel for their emotions even when their dialogue is just “I’m a dog!” When necessary, though, he’ll get just a bit cartoony with their faces, such as when Rover jumps between two buildings and the cover image.
This issue does what it needs to do by introducing our leads and giving us an understanding of the epic scale of disorder that they’ll have to navigate. From here, there are so many directions the story can go now that they can’t rely on their feeders anymore. It will be interesting to see where Ennis takes it.
Eric is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @EricDOwens.