Review: ‘Storm Dogs’ #1

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Alien planet with humans coming in to mine its resources? Check.
Mysterious local wildlife and deadly environment? Check.
Criminal Investigation team brought in to investigate a string of murders? Check.
Readers, welcome to a new space mystery thriller, Storm Dogs #1.

WRITTEN BY: David Hine
ART BY: Doug Braithwaite
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: November 7th, 2012

From the first page, readers are given enough to go on about the new and mysterious setting: a mineral-rich planet called Amaranth, full of alien wildlife and resources to explore and exploit. Mining operations are worked by “questionable” characters, all with something to hide or forget. The mystery part comes into play when seven humans are murdered with no clue as to who or what did the killing. Time to bring in a team of experts including a lonely Commander Cassandra Burroughs, forensic crime and alien anatomy Doctor Jered Hoffman, culture and language expert Masika Zenda and weapons, tactics and muscles Siam Locke.

Writer David Hine’s story is set in the future where some planets are technology-haves and some are technology-have-nots. Amaranth falls into the latter category which means the CI Team will have use less tech than they are used to. Some of the team have more difficulty with this than others. It reminds me of the setup that Firefly employed so smartly to give the creative team more flexibility as to where their stories could go. Throw in the two mysterious intelligent species – the Elohi and the Joppa – and you’ve got the good parts of Avatar thrown into the mix for good measure.

Artist Doug Braithwaite works towards his strengths as the planet and the characters are given the proper amount of grit and roughness in the different landscapes. Some panels look sketchier than what I’ve seen from Braithwaite in the past, so I’m assuming he’s trying out a new approach to his own creations. The coloring by Ulises Arreola is also muted in certain panels to depict the harsh landscapes. I’m curious to see if other parts of this planet will have a more vivid colour palette to show us. The deadly acid rain storms with its red lightning and gigantic rolling black clouds that has humans running for shelter is one area I thought should have more bold colour.

The local lawman tells us what “Storm Dogs” are: “anyone who’s crazy enough to go out in the rain, they’re Storm Dogs.” Like a storm rolling into your town, this first issue has a slow but gradual movement. It’s never easy to set up a new world and premise in one issue but Hine, Braithwaite, and company deliver a decent start. Plus, they included some nice extras to entice and intrigue the reader to come back to Amaranth next month. I think I’ll wait out and see what this storm brings.

Rating: 3/5 Skulls.

Reviewed by: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Brady