There are times reading Astro City where you’ve distinctly remember seeing a hero story like the one you’re reading, but never this good. I had just that experience reading the latest issue out this week from Vertigo, which is an experience that’s like catching lightning in a bottle. It reminds the reader stories can feel brand new even with elements you’ve seen elsewhere.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Meet G-Dog, possibly Astro City’s most unusual superhero ever. Half man, half dog–but who’s running the show? The answers will change a life, reveal another hero’s deepest secrets, and possibly, just possibly, save the world. Oh, who are we kidding…they’ll definitely change the world. Do you see that handsome face? Also featuring Honor Guard, with guest art by Mike Norton (Revival, Battlepug).
Why does this matter?
Can we just give Kurt Busiek the lifetime of lifetimes achievement award in superhero comic storytelling? The guy is incredible at writing an origin story, whether it’s villain, hero, or anything in between. This issue is no different, focusing on a man who melds with dog to become G-Dog! Need we say more?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
::Record scratch:: You’re probably wondering how I got here.
The key to this story’s success lies in the captions, which perfectly capture the protagonist’s feelings and thoughts. He’s your average part time crook who isn’t murdering anybody by any means, but he’s done bad enough things to have a gangster on his tail after not paying up. Busiek does a good job establishing his good-guy personality despite having done some minor crimes. Enter Hank, the corgi that changes everything. I won’t spoil how the transformation to what you see on the gorgeous cover drawn by Alex Ross takes place, but let’s just say our protagonist’s personality changes with the temperament of a good boy. Along their journey together Busiek utilizes the good nature of the dog to shift the protagonist in the right direction, which should make dog lovers enjoy this story even more.
Mike Norton draws this issue and he captures the goodness in Hank quite well. As the dog looks on to his master who is thinking of committing crimes (they can hear each other’s thoughts), Norton captures Hank’s dismay and goodness. Norton also does a great job making the corgi/humanoid hero look cute and believable in a way that only an Astro City comic could pull off. Luckily it’s not some kind of Looney Tunes affair, but instead, a heroic looking corgi saving the day whenever he swoops in.
The story also wraps up with a whopper of a cliffhanger which may just draw a tear to your eye. It’s the kind of ending that’s logical, but oh so depressing and, again, pet owners will relate to and commiserate with. This is another Busiek-written script that seems to have a bevy of story packed into your conventional comic book length. It’s safe to say the first third of this issue delivers what most origin stories would deliver in their first issue. By the end, I felt like I got more than my money’s worth.
Is that Hawkman?!
It can’t be perfect can it?
Though it might hurt the story I wanted a bit more detail on how the powers work and how a dog/human combo makes the character so powerful. I guess it presumes if you turn a dog into human size he’d be super strong and fast? There are dogs that are human size after all and aren’t that insanely powerful. Chalk it up to magic, but these powers could use a bit more explaining!
Is It Good?
Another excellent origin story from Busiek that’s a great combo of superheroes and a relatable pet-friendly premise. Superhero fans will love it, but dog loving superhero fans will adore it.