In which I get to use the phrase “Pre-Crisis Dogwelder”, thus making me unreasonably happy…  Your Major Spoilers review of Sixpack and Dogwelder: Hard-Travelin’ Heroz #1 awaits!

Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Russ Braun
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Marie Javins
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Sixpack and Dogwelder: Hard-Travelin’ Heroz: Probably the least successful superhero team in the history of the universe, The Section 8 operated in Gotham City, often interacting with Tommy “Hitman” Monaghan.  Notably, they took on (and theoretically defeated?) demons known as The Many-Angled Ones, and leading Sixpack to a sort-kinda heroic end.  All that changed with his own miniseries in the New 52, and now they’re back and worse than ever…


After the events of All-Star Section 8, Sixpack is once again himself: A drunken wreck, parked permanently at Noonan’s Bar in the worst part of Gotham City.  This issue actually opens with Dogwelder standing outside the window of a happy young family, watching sadly as two children open presents from their new stepfather.  The black comedy upshot comes when new stepdad suggests they get a puppy, to a violent response from mom, and a shot showing the grafted skin where welded dogs were clearly removed from their faces.  It’s both tragic and awful, as well as humorous in the Garth Ennis “cruel and unusual over-the-top ridiculous” sort of way.  At the same time, Sixpack and the remaining members of the Section 8 (the demon Baytor, the utterly disgusting Bueno Excellente and living entrails-creature Guts) assemble to have a meeting about how to get taken seriously…

…a meeting which is interrupted by a cosmic portal from beyond that disgorges THE SPECTRE.


There’s a thing about a Garth Ennis comic in the 21st Century that I must warn anyone about: It’s very likely going to turn your stomach.  Russ Braun lovingly renders Sixpack’s vomit, Guts’…  Well, her everything, and even gives the sight of Starfire smiling a terrible, Cthulian overtone.  The issue is filled with lovely touches: Constantine or someone very like him entreats Dogwelder to learn more about his powers in a way reminiscent of how he educated Swamp Thing back in the day; Guts and her gal pals (Starfire, Power Girl and Catwoman) discussing her unhealthy relationship with Bueno Excellente, and the last-page reveal with perfectly timed joke by Sixpack make it an enjoyable issue, so long as you can stomach mean-spirited writing and the skewering of any and all comic book tropes.  In short, it’s a Garth Ennis story, and should be approached as such.


As someone who loves the idea of the bottom-of-the-barrel super do-gooder screwing up over and over (as well as someone who can stomach Ennis artistic excesses), I find this an enjoyable reading experience and am truly interested in what The Spectre might want with one of the deadbeats of the 8.  (I also expect that he’s after Baytor, but that seems like it might be the Too Easy answer?)  Sixpack and Dogwelder: Hard-Travelin’ Heroz #1 is funny in a dark and horrific way, but also serves as an interesting tease of a bigger story coming, with strong art and characters that are mostly fun to read about (Bueno Excellente excepted), earning a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I really want to see Constantine’s tutelage of Dogwelder, so I’m in for the rest of this series…


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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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