Dogs: Bullets & Carnage 3
Story and Art by Shirow Miwa. $12.99. Publisher: Viz Media
Once again we find a post-apocalyptic world in which violence and crime is circumscribed by deregulated technology and genetic mutation. In Dogs: Bullets & Carnage, life is a quest to find out just what in the hell happened! Enter Heine, Badou, Naoto, and Mihai. An assassin, a gunman, a journalist, and an amnesiac, they’re thrust together by sheer coincidence as they grapple with mysterious pasts and a violent present.
In chapter 3, Heine and his unique collar take center stage. The device pinned to his neck has not gone unnoticed, and curiosity has gotten the best of his unexpected comrades. As he recounts his time in a kindergarten for future killers, Mihai’s train is attacked by mutated shock troops, forcing the old assassin to sharpen his retired skills.
A feast of sword and gunplay, Dogs is a hypnotic murder spree begging for explanation. Thus its strength rests with its characters, whose unraveling lives give depth and context to the bloody carnage. Simply put, a character driven story makes a great read, since the flip of each page brings you closer to the truth. Here, it’s all about Heine and his disturbing childhood. Yet, as we thoughtfully learn more about him, Mihai satisfies are hunger for elegant violence. In fact, the balance between narrative and violent action in Dogs, a too often neglected element in print and visual entertainment, is spot on! And in an art context, this balance is rhythmically conveyed in the ebb and flow between calm and frenzied still frames.
However, the post-apocalyptic backdrop is a bit disheveled – as it should be, I suppose. The initial spotlight is placed so much on the characters that you don’t get a cogent feel for the origin and organization of this defunct world. But hey, in media res, I get it. The origin and politics of this broken civilization is being revealed via the exploration of each character’s past. But still, a little more orientation would have been nice.
At any rate, strong characters - with a touch of cliche of course -, putrid violence, and a mongrel world, Dogs: Bullets & Carnage concedes upfront everything you expect in a great sci-fi manga. Yet, it also hides enough to keep you flipping those pages unwittingly fast.