Not comics you want any­one to catch you read­ing on the train…

Comic Heroes - - Front Page - Michael Di­pas­cale Garth Ennis

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

An in­no­va­tive take on the gore-packed zom­bieathon… The pint-sized as­sas­sin has swapped her joy­stick for a sword.

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