Overview

Dogs: Bullets & Carnage Volume 1

Review

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Dogs: Bullets & Carnage Volume 1

Credits

  • Words: Shirow Miwa
  • Art: Shirow Miwa
  • Publisher: Viz Media
  • Price: $12.99
  • Release Date: Aug 7, 2009

Badou and Heine are a different sort of private investigator/bodyguards. Naoto is a woman on a mission. When Badou’s latest case involves lost and mutated children, their paths cross. When an old nemesis named Giovanni shows up - guns begin to blaze, swords slice, and dogs... well, they bite.

Miwa has created an ultra violent dystopia where government experiments have led to both the demon/angel-like lost children and maniacal killing machines like Heine and Giovanni. The latter are the eponymous dogs. The surface of Earth has become uninhabitable, but the mafia has made the underground just as inhospitable.

All of this leads to a story that is mostly action packed fights - whether they be gun based or hand to hand. The story itself is a bit of a jumbled mess. Some of this seems to be by design. The past of all the leads is shrouded in mystery. Heine is plagued by cryptic dreams that are meant to point to the experimentation that created his blood lust.

There is also the distinct possibility that the previous volume 0 of Dogs explains much of this. However, what is on display in this book seems fresh. The mystery surrounding the dogs is certainly unresolved, as revelations late in this volume would lead one to believe. Given the three years between the publication of the stories in Japan, it may be a little of both.

Miwa does make a valiant effort to catch everyone up and make the story self-contained, but the connection between Naoto and the two investigators is never brought to light. Giovanni is presented as a villain and there are hints to a past between him and Heine.

It’s not at all bad though. The story has an action sense that recalls Aeon Flux through a filter of Jet Li’s Unleashed. The science fiction apocalyptic setting and the desirability (maybe even collectability?) of the book’s "angel" are attractive thematic qualities. There is also the distinct feel that like a David Lynch film or Lost, you are not exactly supposed to know what is going on.

The art is perfect for the fast and furious violence of the book. The character designs recall Aeon Flux as well, while retaining a more distinct traditional Manga feel. Awkwardly humorous countenances used to lighten the mood of the piece are just as prevalent as the bombardment of lines used to denote the most intense action.

What truly stands out about the style of the book is the stark contrast of the blacks and whites. There is some grayscale used for detail, but the blacks are utilized to create mood, lighting and even eerie dream sequences. It is fine craftsmanship that makes a less than tangible story all the more entertaining.

There are crumbs being dropped for a detail oriented reader to follow. This reader is uncertain whether the trail is obscured or just very far from its destination. In the end, Dogs is an enigmatic thriller that should appeal to a new hybrid of fan enthralled by Crank but smart enough to enjoy Blade Runner.

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