Growing up as an only child in a family can be hard, but the only child on an entire planet is almost unthinkable. That is unless you have your own K9 complete with cybernetic tongue and robo-drool…

Writers: Rob Cohen and Andi Ewington
Artist: Rob Atkins
Colourist: John Rauch
Published by: 451 Studios
Cover price: $3.99 USD

Previously In Red Dog: Kyle is the only kid on the entire planet of Kirawan in a small mining colony on an inhospitable hell hole. Living in a gigantic bio-dome the 200 miners survive on boring rations, surrounded by twin-sun-blasted desert wastes inhabited only by an alien insectoid species who appear none too happy about their new ‘friends’.

The Worst Place you Could Ever Imagine?

Well that is according to Kyle at least. The only problem is, it looks really nice. And I don’t just mean it doesn’t look like hell, I mean it looks much nicer than where I live every day. Obviously there is a touch of ‘future-worship’ in that statement, mechanical helpers and intergalactic spaceships are something most people would like to have, but besides that the local looks idyllic (inside the dome at least.) I remember watching Star Wars as a child with the opening on Tatooine  and despite the land speeder and droids, I really would not have wanted to go there.

I can tell this is what they were aiming for, especially with the strong yellow palette, the problem is they made it too ‘nice.’ The rolling wheat-fields and stunning views make it hard to feel this is a place I would hate; they even go so far as to put a little white picket fence around the houses! Being born on the ‘wrong side of the pond’ I don’t have quite the same affinity for good-old American homesteads, but even to me this looks friendly and warm.

Utterly stunning visuals

Never in all my years of reading comics did I ever think I would make this statement: the art is too good. There, I’ve said it, and now I feel dirty. The art in this book is stunning, from the people to the aliens, the landscapes to the robots. All of it is utterly perfect and so absolutely wrong for this book. This is supposed to be a distant mining colony on a complete hell-hole of a planet. They are frontier people able to grow only the most basic foods, reliant on sporadic re-supply from ships come to collect their mined ‘Imperium’. I feel like if someone put this comic in a mouldy box for a year the end result might be an improvement, at least then I wouldn’t be looking at space-suits that look like they have just come out of a dry cleaners.

The whole middle of this issue shows the industrial mining process as they extract the Imperium ore which allows for time travel in the 23rd century. They use towering mining robots that spray acid and employ giant drills to get at the ore, but where they are working looks more like a clean bio-lab rather than a dusty and dirty mine.

I hate to overcook my point and I do rather much feel like a turkey voting for Christmas when I say this, but please mess up your art work just a little bit. Or better yet, take this fabulous art team and put them onto a book that would benefit from this clean and perfect art style. To carry on the science fiction metaphor from earlier, this book wants to feel like Star Wars, but looks like Star Trek and the end result is disconcerting.

How Far Have Independent Comics Come?

I remember when reading Independent comics meant something. The art was appalling, the writing non-existent and the spelling deficient. Occasionally you would come across a little star of a comic which would rapidly have its creative team snatched up by one of the big publishers, but even then the comic itself was rough and felt home-made.

However when you have a powerhouse director like Michael Bay behind you, rough edges and lack of proof reading becomes a thing of a past. This ‘independent’ company doesn’t have to worry about overspending on ink, or getting out comics as fast as possible to keep the lights on, they are clearly here for the long haul using the best talent money can buy with incredible production values.

The problem is, I really liked the old type of independent comics. Sure I hated the art and the plot holes in the stories made them hard to swallow, but every so often the spelling mistakes made the story funnier and most importantly they had a heart and soul to them.

You may have noticed that I have barely mentioned the storyline of this comic and there is a good reason for that. Don’t get me wrong, there is a story here – boy is lonely, boy gets dog, boy has past trauma, ends on cliff hanger – it’s all there and it’s terribly generic. As much as it pains me to say; this comic is a Michael Bay film in printed form. It looks fantastic, the production values are enormous, it reads fine and hits all the right notes but there is absolutely no soul behind it and its heart is entirely artificial.

But then again, I’m a cat person and chances are I just don’t get pulled into a story about a boy and his dog…


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About Author

Etienne has loved comics ever since Hasbro licensed a random collection of out of scale transforming toys from Japan and gave them to Marvel and said 'make up something so we can sell this crap to kids.' Well, they managed to do that for 6 years to this kid, and in the process create an entire mythos, dozens of TV shows and at least 1 decent film. Not bad going for a giant advert. Since then Etienne might have grown up a bit, but the seed that Transformers started in 1984 has taken root and 30 years later he's still obsessed with his comics.


  1. This sounds like a rough adaptation of the Fox cartoon “Red Planet” mini series from the 90s, which was itself a rough adaptation of the Robert A. Heinlein novel of the same name.

    The show summary from Wikipedia reads as follows:

    “Jim Marlowe (voiced by Benny Grant), Jr., and his little sister, Phillis Jane “P.J.” Marlowe (voiced by Haven Hartman), are teens growing up on the distant mining world of New Aries. Life on New Aries is difficult, with its surface being a red-colored desert. Along with the harsh climate and severe weather, there are many dangerous creatures living on New Aries, such as the three-headed Cerebus Hounds, the swift and voracious Water Seekers, and the misunderstood Locals, creatures so rare and dangerous they border on urban legend.

    Jim has recently acquired a new pet, a “roundhead” called Willis (voiced by Pat Fraley) with the parrot-like ability to mimic human speech and record conversations. Willis is small, furry, and playful, can survive both on the surface of New Aries and the Earth-like atmosphere of the colony, and has some sort of connection with the Locals on an almost empathic level.”

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