Sometimes my heart breaks for Alan Moore. He’s said in the past that he doesn’t read any comics that are coming out today, which means that he’s probably not gotten a look at Storm Dogs #1 out from David Hine, Doug Braithwaite and Image Comics. Alan’s going to be missing out on a terrific comic that reads like that dark, nasty British scifi that’s helped define the island (at least in genre terms). It’s no surprise that he did time with 2000 AD, every time you read any amazing European science fiction it usually leads to the title. When you hear someone give advice on writing and they say, “Write a story that you would want to read.”, think about David Hine and think about Storm Dogs because that’s exactly how the comic reads. It reads like David Hine is writing a story that he would love to read and thankfully, you’ll probably want to read it too.
The story takes place on Amaranth, where there’s mining and murder. There’s also aliens, although to be fair, humans should probably be considered the aliens in the scenario. We don’t see a lot of the native people in the first issue, it’s more about getting to know the team and getting a brief overview of the social and political makeups of the planet. An Union team is called in to investigate a series of deaths and get caught up in one of the super storms while trying to rescue some unlucky workers. However that’s just the beginning of this story, it’s by no means an encapsulation of what’s going on here.
Storm Dogs takes it’s place comfortably with Firefly, Ignition City and Cowboy Bepop as the great space westerns of our time. Genre is so difficult, especially when you look at genres with such long histories behind them like science fiction, because you can lose your identity in a homage and become just a bland copy. Storm Dogs feels like you could be reading it during practically any period of the 20th century and it would fit right in step with the culture. It plays with basic aspects of scifi comics, a far off planet, mysterious deaths, team called in to investigate, strange animals, aliens, scary governments, and brain internets. Well maybe brain internet isn’t as much of a pillar as the others, but that’s part of the strength and charm of the comic, is that it pulls from the pool the coolest bits and makes them new again, so you don’t have to daydream about how it must’ve been to actually read Morrison’s Zenith as it was coming out. You’ve got amazing stuff coming out now friends. It’s right there.
I was only barely aware of Hine as a writer, I read some Batman mini’s he did and really enjoyed them, but other than that I had no clue who he was. Then I picked up Bulletproof Coffin at NYCC and now he’s on my “buy anything” list. From it’s simple cover to it’s smart characters to Braithwaite’s gorgeously detailed pencils, Storm Dogs is easily worth the $3.50 price tag. There’s also back matter in the forms of sketches, script samples and a character study by Hine. The big boys give you less story, more ads and charge you more and here you’re getting gold from one of the more creative and talented comic writers working today (I feel like Hine is the missing link connecting Warren Ellis and Mike Carey).
Higher Earth has been canceled which means there’s room in your schedule for a great, new scifi comic, make it Storm Dogs.