Coming unlooked for from Image, David Hine’s science fiction crime thriller STORM DOGS makes an excellent first impression.
Probably best known for his Marvel work, Hine has also turned heads recently for his Image title, THE BULLETPROOF COFFIN. In STORM DOGS, an investigation team travels to the planet Amaranth in response to a series of killings. It is a distant human future, where Earth is no longer the center of humankind and far-flung planets are mined for resources. Amaranth is one such planet, a backwater of the galaxy populated by miscreants and criminals. It is also home to a variety of native species, including a few intelligent races. Although the atmosphere appears breathable, it occasionally spawns acid rainstorms which can eat away at human flesh. Thus humans must either take shelter during the storms or don specialized suits to protect them from the acid. In any case, it’s a hardscrabble life for humans on Amaranth, and neither the local authorities nor the investigative team are sure why the interplanetary government has bothered to dispatch a high-profile investigative team.
In this first issue, our team is prepped aboard the ship during its descent, somewhat reminiscent of the beginning of Ridley Scott’s film PROMETHEUS. We learn that human technology is greatly advanced, down to an individual brain connection to an internet-like network called the Weave. But Amaranth is home to races with minimal technology, lending them protected status, and therefore the team must set aside much of their advanced tech so as not to frighten the natives. At least that seems to be the rationale.
This is the first installment of what is billed as the six-issue “first season” of the series. Hine has created a fascinating hard science fiction world in STORM DOGS, but it’s the addition of the crime thriller elements that will likely set this series apart. Also, Google the word “amaranth” for insight into some possible themes in the series.
Artist Doug Braithwaite’s classic style lends the comic a timeless feel, and Ulises Arreola’s bright color palette brings the organic and alien world of Amaranth to life. This first issue only scratches the surface of the deeper mysteries of Amaranth, but there is potential here for a memorable sci-fi adventure, and here’s hoping that issue #2, out in December, maintains the debut’s momentum.