Storm Dogs is a cool name. That, coupled with people in cool space suits braving a purple rainfall, was enough to catch my eye and pick up the first issue. I'm a sucker for aesthetics. It's how I pick my favorite sports teams.
The look of Storm Dogs, as rendered by artist Doug Braithwaite and colorist Ulises Arreola, is quite vivid. The beautifully hostile planet of Amaranth, in the "ass end of the nowhere" as local lawman Curtess Starck describes it, is balanced well between the extremely colorful fauna and flora and the harshly weathered people who are trying to inhabit the place. There's an undeniable Tattooine sensibility to some of it, as the space port named Grievance is nestled in a desert, but we don't rightly recall any rainstorms on Luke Skywalker's homeworld that had precipitation deadly enough to dissolve human flesh.
David Hine's story also helps us imagine a Star Wars world that also involves the internet – or as they call it, The Weave (not the web, haw haw). This, however, is something you can jack into cranially, and the crew of criminal investigators sent to Amaranth to look into a series of strange deaths are going to be cut off from it due to native technological restrictions. This is a big deal, going off the grid, and for one member, Jered, he has just enough time left on The Weave to get dumped by his boyfriend before going aground. For another, Commander Cassandra Burroughs, she doesn't seem to feel the need to bid anybody farewell, suggesting a solitary, isolated existence – or at least as much of one you can get if you're jacked into the internet 24-7.
It makes you wonder what Star Wars would've been like with social media. A couple of Leia tweets from Cloud City could have really saved Luke an hand.
Anyway, it turns out the strange deaths are likely due to native creatures who go savagely apeshit when the storms come, and have begun to attack caravans in the midst of inclement weather, and are seemingly intelligent enough to take their space helmets off and let the rain fry them. There's some unspoken connection between the weather and the animals – even non-native dogs went crazy in the midst of the storms – hence, Storm Dogs, the new moniker granted to the investigative team.
It's a pretty interesting set up, some cool sci-fi staples cobbled together – along with Star Wars, there looks to be some Avatar elements settling in, definitely some Alien, a little homage to The Right Stuff, all with a crime procedural storyline woven throughout. Braithwaite's art is fantastic when it comes to most everything on Amaranth from environments to animals, but suffers a little with the actual humans. He's good with differentiating faces, which I very much appreciate, but they do feel a little too static at times. But then, all is forgiven when Braithwaite goes all-out with face-melting madness.
Storm Dogs is cool. I'm on board to see where this adventure takes me.