Dog Days of Summer #1 – Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Joshua Williamson, G. Willow Wilson, Andrew Marino, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Kenny Porter, Dan Didio, Mariko Tamaki, Writers; Cully Hamner, Kyle Hotz, Stjepan Sejic, James Harren, Christian Duce, Tom Raney, Cian Tormey, Paul Fry, Mick Gray, Artists; Dave McCaig, David Baron, Dave Stewart, Luis Guerrero, Ivan Plascencia, Hi-Fi, John Kalisz, Colorists
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: That Krypto Story. Feels Right to the Heart
Ray: DC’s quarterly anthologies have become one of their recent highlights, with most of the recent offerings having at least one gem and many being strong through the entire 80-page volume. That’s the case again for this offbeat animal-themed anthology, Dog Days of Summer #1, which unites some of the biggest furry and scaly stars in the DCU for adventures in every genre.
It starts with a Superman and Krypto tale, “The Crucible” by Lanzing, Kelly, and Cully Hamner as Superman and his loyal dog investigate a massive alien spaceship hovering over Metropolis. It turns out to be a sadistic test designed to rip the two apart and ends with a gut punch followed by a sudden burst of hope. This one is going to emotionally wreck dog owners – I don’t even have a dog and it worked on me.
Corrina: This story! Instant classic. It didn’t go where I thought it would and then, at the end, a total emotional gut punch. (And a happy ending.) I don’t want to describe it but if you love animals, you’ll love this. This is probably going straight to my top ten Superman stories of all time list.
Ray: Next up is a Killer Croc story by Josh Williamson and Kyle Hotz, as Croc breaks out of Arkham and heads for the Everglades – the only place where alligators and crocodiles live in peace. After terrorizing a tour boat full of Ugly Americans, he returns to his swamp and tracks down an old protege named Gator – born with the same skin condition, apparently – who’s been making some bad choices. It’s a dark, tragic story that does a great job of capturing Croc’s inner sadness and humanity. Williamson might have a Bat-book in his future.
Corrina: Putting aside that I was surprised to see Croc in this anthology, given he’s more or less human, it’s an effective tale of someone who can see the good in others but knows there is no good in himself. The art practically drips with swampy atmosphere, showing so much effectively in the shadows.
Ray: I was surprised to see Stjepan Sejic do a DC book again after the fiasco of what DC did to his last one, but his partnership with G. Willow Wilson on a story featuring Ferdinand the Minotaur is gorgeous-looking and oddly twisted. Ferdinand is hosting the Justice League family reunion for Wonder Woman and co, and there’s just one problem – he’s manning the grill, and making burgers is a bit awkward for him. His attempt to find a cruelty-free meat option leads him to accidentally unleash a mad scientist’s experiment in this hilariously gruesome story.
Corrina: What a winning combination. I’ve seen Sejic’s Wonder Woman art on his Twitter feed, especially in his Wonder Woman/Lara Croft riffs, and it was a pleasure to see it in an official story. Equally excellent was Wilson’s wry sense of humor, which never made fun of Ferdinand’s need to serve the League a proper meal.
Ray: I don’t think anyone was expecting a Captain Carrot story here, but Andrew Marino and James Harren deliver a bizarre, dense story set in the Multiverse’s Justice Incarnate headquarters. As the multiversal super-team meets, Captain Carrot crash-lands to warn them of a crisis on his world. President Superman and Atomic Batman (a Judge Dredd pastiche) accompany him to take on an evil sun that’s possessed the Zoo Crew. I wish I could say it makes sense in context, but this one is kind of a mess. Some amusing uses of cartoon physics aside.
Corrina: Aw!! I love the cleverness in this tale, such as the “cartoon logic” of the moving hole in the ground and the other sight gags. Not to mention how Atomic Batman eventually had to concede to Captain Carrot’s point of view. A fun and clever tale.
Ray: Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Christian Duce take on Animal Man, one of the more intriguing DC heroes who has largely been MIA since the Jeff Lemire run. What starts as a fun family vacation with his wife and daughter in an isolated Amazon jungle turns horrific when an ancient supernatural being starts stalking them. It’s a pretty grim tale, with Buddy forced to fight the last remnant of a dying species, but the art is brilliant – and Buddy taking on the powers of a Mantis Shrimp won me over. The absence of his son is keenly felt if never mentioned – I was hoping that was a continuity beat Rebirth might have erased.
Corrina: This is a more serious story than any of the others. The creative team treats Buddy and his connection to the animals well, not idealizing the animal kingdom, but showing even Buddy’s place in the pecking order realistically. I also like seeing Buddy the family man. A solid read.
Ray: Next up, it’s everyone’s favorite murder kitty’s turn to take the lead for the second time this week – Dex-Starr’s story by Kenny Porter and Paul Fry promises carnage and delivers in spades. Khund tourists roam the galaxy, invading peaceful planets and killing the residents for sport – but while the planet they just invaded only has cuddly bear-like aliens, they just got a visit in the form of Dex-Starr. Dex-Starr training a little teddy bear alien in the art of war isn’t something I knew I wanted, but it’s just the right level of bizarre and ultraviolent.
Corrina: RAGE KITTY. Do I detect a bit of an Ewok pastiche in the cuddly bear aliens? Perhaps. But if you ever wanted to see a murderous teddy bear go to town on the evil Khunds, this is your tale.
Ray: Dan Didio and Tom Raney pick up on the bizarre ballad of Bat-Cow in a story set at a Texas rodeo, where a particularly ruthless bull with a clown-face painted on likes to hurt cowboys – until Bat-cow shows up to step between “Laffa” and his latest victim. The idea of Bat-cow getting her own Joker is the stuff of fever dreams, but somehow the story works. It’s simple and doesn’t exactly make us care about the dim-witted cowboys, but Bat-Cow is a weird force of nature that needs no explanation.
Corrina: The story works but it’s perhaps a little bit too long, drawing out the joke in more panels than necessary. But, overall, effective, though I was hoping for a Damian cameo.
Ray: The anthology wraps with a Beast Boy story by Mariko Tamaki and Cian Tormey, as Beast Boy tries to flirt with a local lifeguard only to run into a group of bullies straight out of the 1950s. He gets into a game of one-upmanship with the bully, winning contests by turning into various animals. Besides befriending a nerdy boy at the beach, this story is mostly about Beast Boy showing off his powers. Still a better use of the character than most recent titles he’s been in.
Corrina: Beast Boy’s story spotlights what’s best about the character: he’s insecure but always willing to laugh at his own absurdities. I love the look the art team gives each of Beast Boy’s transformations.
Ray: Overall, it’s a fun anthology with a few gems and a few misfires. Not the best they’ve done, but one I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It’s worth the price of admission for the first two stories alone.
Corrina: Yes, buy this if only for Krypto. But you’ll enjoy the rest as well.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.