Comic Review: Dogs of Mars

Dogs of Mars
Trade paperback
Story by Johnny Zito, Tony Trov and Christian Weiser
Art by Paul Maybury
Image Comics
Release Date: May 2, 2012
Cover Price: $15.99

Dogs of Mars is a comic rooted in restraint. Nearly every panel of this Sci-Fi horror comic is a detailed study in delicacy. Everything from relationships to brutal violence is explored in Dogs of Mars. Yet, none of it is fully exposed to us as readers. When many comics sprint from one extreme to the next, Dogs of Mars plants the first seeds of terror from page one. The result is a completely visceral experience that will leave you checking to make sure your doors and windows are locked.

Dogs of Mars has a pace and tone that should exist organically in this genre of comic yet rarely does. Writers Johnny Zito, Tony Trov, and Christian Weiser have crafted something that will genuinely make you uneasy. That sense of discomfort is in part due to the fact that the writers of this comic have done everything in their power to alienate the reader. Characters are far from home, on an uninhabitable planet and they are being hunted. These are not careful calculating aliens hunting the unfortunate astronauts either. These are rabid and vicious beasts with snapping jaws that will eviscerate everything that comes in their path.

Dogs of Mars has the same effect in terms of horror that Garth Ennis achieved with Crossed. We are frightened by these monsters because of their mindlessly brutality. There is no rhyme nor reason to why these beasts hunt, they only shred anyone in striking distance. The second layer of tension that this comic builds is from the relationships that are created between characters. Every uneasy silence or hushed conversation is felt in Dog of Mars, and as the reader we know every word counts. As men and women are turned into pulp one by one, Zito, Trov, and Weiser force their readers to genuinely care.

Dogs of Mars would not be the incredible comic it is without the artwork of Paul Maybury. This is an artist who understands the complex nature of not exposing too much to the audience. Maybury achieves true terror by forcing readers to imagine brutal violence more than witness it. The book’s characters are torn to shreds, yet with a wash of red coloring and extremely sketchy line work, Maybury only hints at gore. Death and violence are a regular occurrence in this comic, but the gritty details of a man being ripped in half are left for readers to work out in the late hours of night.

Dogs of Mars at its core is a horror comic, but it is also so much more. This is a collection of four single issues that have created more tension and fright than most comics do in 50 issues. Dogs of Mars is a comic about humanity, death, terror, love, and isolation. This comic will keep you up at night and you will be happy it did.

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