Written by Rob Cohen, the director of XXX and The Fast and the Furious, Red Dog is a departure from what you’d expect from someone with his film credits. More space star than fast car, this book tackles the beloved trope of a boy and his dog—but in another galaxy.
Set in the distant mining colony of Kirawan, the story’s lead protagonist is a boy named Kyle. Life on Kirawan is difficult, especially since everything’s contained within a giant dome, and everyone needs to pull their weight—including Kyle. To teach Kyle about responsibility, his uncle Jake builds him a robot dog named Q that learns and develops faster than normal. Everywhere Kyle goes, Q follows and keeps him company. One fateful day, Jake’s crew goes outside of the colony, and Kyle and Q accompany them. However, a group of alien species attacks, putting Kyle in danger…
Gorgeously illustrated by Rob Atkins (G.I. Joe, The Amazing Spider-Man), Red Dog #1 draws you into its world immediately. The setting is reminiscent of BraveStarr’s New Texas with scattered elements of Treasure Planet—think of futuristic machinery but barren deserts as well. There’s so much to see and take in that you’ll often lose yourself in all the backgrounds and details for minutes on end.
Complementing the detailed artwork is an extremely detailed story as well, which is possibly the issue’s biggest flaw. I presume Cohen wrote the story as a screenplay first, and Andi Ewington adapted it to the comic book format afterwards. This would explain why the story suffers from huge exposition issues. Most of the first issue is spent describing Kyle, Q and Kirawan, as well as establishing the tension between Kyle and his father. This is fine and necessary, but we could’ve avoided the whole part about the death of Kyle’s brother so early on. There’s a strong element of telling in this issue, when it should be more showing.
Despite the abundance of too much information, Red Dog #1 remains an interesting read and premise. Superhero-free, it’s a book that explores the different side of comics, which is welcome. I would like to see more of Q in the forthcoming issues, though, because dogs are always better than humans.