Thousand Faced: Science Dog-Issue #1

Science Dog-Issue #1
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Cory Walker
Published by: Image Comics

Anthropomorphism. It’s a word which puts human-animal relationships in their place for the presumption of having beasties act as we do. Once you use nomenclature to put something in a box we get relieved that it will stay safely locked down there. When I was a wee tyke these were among my favorite stories. I remember Mr. Ed for Chrissakes! To this day I believe when a horse talks to me it will be with the voice of Johnny Cash. Do you remember Freddie The Pig or his megalomaniac cousin Napoleon on the Animal Farm? Do you recall the real Pooh and not the Disney cleansed sham Pooh?
So just the other day, I swear to you people, it was just the other day; I discover Robert Kirkman is writing a new series to me, Science Dog. Kirkman is the word-slinger that created and writes the best zombie series ever written, The Walking Dead. This will be discussed here at length in the next few weeks. By now, those brave few of you who read this column know I have a tendency to follow certain writers and artists from series to series and from story arc to story arc. I like to get a good reading experience in the little time I am allotted to do so. So far, Kirkman has got the job done with TWD. Hey, the cover by artist Cory Walker looks fun enough with a bipedal dog in a jet pack toting a lethal art deco pistol in his thumbed hand. To me it screams good science fiction filled with lots of pulp. I ought to read this. I did. There was great rejoicing.

Science Dog was created by Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Filip Schaff. Although brand new to me, the series has been going on awhile as a back up story in Robert Kirkman’s Invincible series for Image Comics. It has resonated well enough to spawn a line of action figures and a brand of dog food.

Science Dog is what you get when a grumpy scientist named Walter chases a pet terrier of the brilliant but off the normal path scientist Dr. Collins into the brand new time machine. When a safety manual is written there really needs to be a chapter that advises you against this sort of thing. I’m sure The Dog Whisperer will agree. Having a terrier in my home I immediately identified with the situation and have been watching Baxter much more carefully until Thanksgiving when I fit him with little paper shoes. “Get in my belly little doggie!” The terrier and the scientist go for a ride on the tachyon express and get themselves evolved for about a million years. Science Dog gets ten times the intelligence of the smartest human being (27x if you’re Christine O’Donnell). He also gets ten times the strength and speed of a human as well; a pretty good ambition realized if up until now you aspired to having a good poop. Walter, the scientist gets all big-headed in all the worst ways and gets telekinesis to boot and continues to use the science to “dog” our hero on a regular basis.

There you have it; a sweet and smooth origin story that takes all of two pages to tell and ZAPP!…back into the action you go.
The book starts with Science shoving cold steel in some a-hole insectoid dictator’s gutty wutts in another dimension. I think Science even showed his style to that world’s insect queen. I’ll bet in fifteen minutes, our time, he has eight hundred or so dog-faced larvae crawling the palace walls. Now I’m just guessing here but a good character lends themselves to all kind of freestyle speculation.

Walter, the mad scientist, is on a city smashing rampage, probably because the bigger his head got the smaller his package shrank; Walter has inferiority issues. He is likely the guy that farts into elevators at comic book conventions. Ahhh-scientifically enhanced protein bars and Kim chi the sweet taint of soured success. There is clever banter covering the history of conflict between this battle armored dick and the ever affable Science Dog. Each summary of a fight is a cleanly drawn panel depicting the fight. Brevity is the soul of wit and Kirkman and Walker are on it big time. Each panel with its elegance and color propels the story like Science Dog’s jet pack. It is cool to look at and the dialogue punchy as befitting two highly evolved foes; except in Kansas where that just can’t happen.

Science gets TK slammed and vanishes. Daniel, the other scientist crippled by the loss of his legs when the time machine exploded way back when must leave the safety of the lab and his smart girlfriend, Rachel to face Walter on his own. As he suits up in his own white armor he is afraid. Walter kicked his ass before and it was painful. Daniel is a hero and he goes anyway. The book’s last panel is Sciece floating in a tube aboard a space craft being observed by green guys with eye stalks. Now I have to find Invincible #75 to get the rest of this story. It’s all good. Kirkman has gone two for two with me. To quote a line from the dystopian film, Blood of Heroes, “Show me where you are going Dog Boy!”

by Bill Hilburn

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