By Leroy Douresseaux
December 10, 2009 - 09:08
|Dogs: Bullets & Carnage cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.
Rated “M” for “Mature”
They are like stray dogs. Former hit man, Mihai aka “Weepy Old Killer,” is haunted both by the ghosts of his victims and the death of his lover. Gun-for-hire, Badou Nails aka “Gun Smoker” is an information broker with a reckless nature and a goofball persona that belie his skill. Naota aka “Blade Maiden” is an amazingly skilled swordswoman who saw her mother and father cut down before her very eyes. With a talent for violence, Heine Rammsteiner aka “Stray Dog” is the mystery man who wears a metal collar bolted to his neck. Troubled by the ghosts and secrets of their past and driven by their desire for the truth, these dogs still have to survive their very dangerous present.
As Dogs: Bullets & Carnage, Vol. 2 opens, Badou and Heine take an assignment from the information broker, Granny Liza, one that requires the duo to remove small time thugs from a larger gang dispute. Naoto is also in Granny’s lair, hoping that the well-connected, animal-human hybrid can provide the information that will unravel the mystery of her past. Not only does Naoto learn her own last name; she also follows Badou and Heine on their assignment. When Luki and Noki, the Hardcore Twins, also show up to “play,” Badou and Heine’s shoot out becomes a free-for-all.
THE LOWDOWN: There’s nothing wrong with being stylish and violent, but lacking in substance or deeper meaning. Some of the best American comics (Elektra: Assassin and The Authority) have been mostly genre exercises, attempts to give mainstream comics a visual cool and edgy not usually seen. There is certainly something to be said for being clever, imaginative, and inventive. Thus far, the Dogs series: the first volume of Dogs: Bullets & Carnage and the earlier Dogs: Prelude, was stylish and violent, but not clever.
Up until now, this seinen manga (comics for adult men) from Shirow Miwa came across as little more than a really cool looking static image take on Hong Kong shoot ‘em up films (John Woo, anyone?). There was wildly drawn art that slashed across the page, depicting all manner of violence – from evicerations to head shots. Volume 2 gives more of the same when it comes to style, violence, and stylish illustrated violence, but this time, the tone is different.
Creator Shirow Miwa subtlely changes the style and tone of the art and way it is composed, depending upon what a sequence or scene needs. Flashbacks and memories are drawn in smooth, starkly contrasted black and white that makes the figures seem to move across the pages like determined phantoms. Miwa composes the action sequences as a series of jittery panels of varying sizes, but only a few of them square shaped. In many ways, the way this art is presented is probably Miwa’s way of revealing the different sides of his characters’ personalities in a scenario that mostly reveals their darker natures. Adding a bit of cleverness has made this more than just another seinen gun show.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Fans of the manga Black Lagoon may like Dogs: Bullets & Carnage.