3.04.2013

Storm Dogs [Shotgun Blurbs]

by Contributing Writer Keith Silva
 

Storm Dogs
Published by Image Comics
Creators: David Hine, Doug Braithwaite, Ulises Arreola

What It's About: In a far, far away future a team of investigators arrives on the off-off world mining settlement of Grievance on the planet of Amaranth to examine a string of seven mysterious deaths. The local law enforcement, who reported these occurrences (or crimes), isn't crooked per se, but it ain't straight either. In an 'asylum' like Grievance, guilt is relative, everyone is a suspect and to look the other way (to keep secrets) insures one's survival. At what cost and who profits is a minor detail to work out later in the reckoning. These beggars, borrowers and thieves stand in contrast to the sentient indigenous and peaceful (?) populations of the Joppa and the Elohi who share a symbiotic relationship; however, is their connection one of mutual benefit, is it parasitic in nature or is it like the scorpion and the tortoise, doomed by its own nature. Amaranth doubles as setting and character. Like a haunted house, the planet acts as a player, an omnipotent and indifferent force made to test its inhabitant's mettle. Storm Dogs raises big questions about dog-eat-dog Darwinism, nature versus nurture and the character of relationships. The crime here is a mere circumstance -- one in a long list of grievances -- what counts comes from and what one chooses to do with the information one finds within.

Why You Should Buy It: Few operators and fewer writers come off as sharp as David Hine. Speculative fiction requires the author to have all the answers, know the angles and exploit the dead spots. Hine conceives of ''the weave,'' wetware to assist with interstellar communication, memory and complex calculations like crime solving-- think Philip K. Dick's 'Minority Report' crossed with a pacifist Skynet. In order to keep the untutored aboriginals of Amaranth from losing their culture and their simple minds, technology like 'the weave' must remain verboten -- also, such a deus ex machina would make for a dull procedural. Not one to let a good idea slip away due to protocol and local jurisdiction, Hine imagines 'wireheads,' people who prostitute their minds (and their bodies) in order relay information weave-like to the highest bidder. Ideation like this proves Hine is a master storyteller as adept at plot and character development as he is with winks to his beloved Beats and Sci-fi forebears. Doug Braithwaite's panel composition, character designs and overall mis-en-scène say cinema and shout epic. Storm Dogs multi-genre mélange gives Braithwaite license to draw everything from Horror and Science-Fiction to Westerns and Noir and to do so in reasoned and thought-out manner. Braithwaite imagines a world so complete it triggers a kind of synesthesia in which one can smell rain, taste deserts and touch death. Ulises Arreola's colors give the entire production a feel both familiar and yet alien. Storm Dogs plays big in terms of ideas and art and boasts a sturdy and unique narrative as audacious as any action adventure mystery in this world or out among the stars.

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