Title: Dogs: Bullets and Carnage
Author: Shirow Miwa
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volume 4 (ongoing), $12.99
Vintage: 2009 by Shueisha, Sept. 14, 2010 (this week) from Viz Media
Genre: Action, drama
It’s taken me a few days to figure out what I was going to write for this review, and truthfully, now that I’m sitting down with it I still don’t know. Volume 4 is my first exposure to the series, so I’m missing character backgrounds (which I’m using Wikipedia to help remedy) and the early plot. The cover summary doesn’t help, and the volume drops you right into the aftermath of what appears to have been a significant event (judging by the myriad of injuries). So bear with me, if you please, and we’ll explore this together.
Dogs follows the lives of four main characters: Heine, the white-haired genetically modified gunman; Badou, the journalist, photographer, and information broker, searching for his brother’s killer (seen on the cover); Naoto Fuyumine, a female sword wielder who is often with Heine (well, at least in this volume); and Mihai, a retired assassin. The world of Dogs is a dark place, divided into the Above world and the Below world, with the Below world filled with the unsavory aspects of society, and ruled by an organization that performs genetic experimentation and is known for using extreme violence. These characters search for a way into the Below, in order to discover the secrets of their pasts. Volume 4 brings some of the characters closer to their answers, Badou specifically, but these answers will be very hard to come by.
Liza gives Badou a new job to hunt down some information regarding the kidnapping of children. Memories of his past come back to haunt him as he digs for information that may be related to the incident that caused his brother’s death and the loss of his own eye. Unfortunately the only information he manages to dig up is a name: Giovanni. Badou goes back to his brother’s place to try and find a lead, but only finds a cryptic message. It’s Mimi who gives him his next lead, the name Magato Fuyumine, a dangerous assassin working for a mysterious man known as “Herbst.” When a pair of tickets to the theatre arrive for Badou, he’s brought face to face with the man who may have all the answers he’s been searching for. Meanwhile, a group of strange trains has appeared on the local tracks, threatening calamity.
There aren’t serious faults with Dogs. It’s just rather flat. I had a difficult time drumming up interest to read it, and again to get myself to write about it. I was bored. The art is great; it’s a treat to look at (and the guys are easy on the eyes). There’s a minimal amount of stuff going on in the panels, so even the action scenes are easy to follow. Unfortunately the word balloons aren’t alway so easy to follow. And the story just isn’t that interesting, at least not within this volume. There are also several attempts at humor that really aren’t particularly humorous. Badou isn’t so bad; at least he’s got a real past that is laid out on the pages. A dead brother, an amnesiac woman, a search for a mysterious man and the reason for his suffering. And it’s nice to see an older character like Mihai, whose troubles are a little more normal, like being sent out on errands as punishment from his wife for coming home late. I did want to note that Dogs came wrapped in plastic, with a Mature rating. I’m going to assume this is because of the violence, though I’ve seen far worse. Unless there is something in previous volumes that warrants that treatment.
Next week I plan on looking at Deadman Wonderland, Black Bird, and Grand Guignol Orchestra, so be sure to come back for those.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.