Not comics you want anyone to catch you reading on the train…
rover red ch arlie – historical perspective too. His Rover Red Charlie is basically the old Disney classic The Incredible Journey, about three lost pets trying to find their way home through a hostile environment, transposed to the post-apocalyptic zombie horror landscape of a Walking
or Ennis’s own hit, Crossed. The world has gone mad, people everywhere are taking their own lives or murdering their neighbours – no reason is given – with gleeful abandon, and three dog friends (Basset Hound Rover, Red Setter Red and Border Collie guide dog Charlie) look for an explanation, and try to survive. It’s a book packed with horror – an owner sets himself alight as his pet looks on in shock, a gang of small children push a policeman off a balcony to his death, and everywhere brains are bashed in and planes fall from the sky – and heartbreak too. “I’m a dog I’m a dog I’m a dog,” bark our heroes at their humans, but no one’s listening; “Feeders don’t hurt dogs,” they yelp, but they do.
Just as gruesome – and impressive in its way – is Absolution: Happy Kitty, a one-shot spin-off from the very violent Absolution series by writer Christos Gage. That told of superhumans working for the emergency services becoming so traumatised by what they see they begin killing criminals in secret, and Happy Kitty was introduced as an adrenaline-junkie hitwoman. Now we get her origin story: as a young girl,
Brains are bashed in and planes fall from the sky
her parents murdered by a criminal gang, she’s saved from life as a whore when the bad guys start to notice what she can do – an almost supernatural obsession with videogaming, and matching dexterity at it too. Now she’s brought up as a near-mute assassin enforcer, denied a proper home life or even a real name and rewarded by playtime with a pet tiger.
Happy Kitty is handsomely told in a vaguely manga style by Brit artist Paul Duffield, who’s not so good at small girl’s faces but excels at brains chopped in two. It’s got a cold, morally ambivalent flair alright, but again it’s heavy on the violence – in the first issue alone, we counted some 30 one-on-one sword or gunshot murders, and a single threat to cut off a tiger’s paw. Grim then, but there’s something of the Hit-Girl to this lass, and I expect we’ll see her again. Matt Bielby