[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Michael Norton
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Meet G-Dog, possibly ASTRO CITY’s most unusual superhero ever. Half man, half dog—but who’s running the show? The answers will change a life, reveal another hero’s deepest secrets, and possibly, just possibly, save the world. Oh, who are we kidding…they’ll definitely change the world. Do you see that handsome face? Also featuring Honor Guard.
A few months ago in Astro City #44, Busiek gave us a tale guaranteed to please cat people. So I guess it’s only fair that he now does the same for dog lovers. I’m not a dog person myself, but I can appreciate a well written dog story – which this definitely is.
The protagonist and narrator, Andy, is a ne’er-do-well and small time criminal who finds himself merging with his dog Hank to become the composite hero, G-Dog. Andy is the mind in charge, but he finds himself forced to abide by Hank’s moral compass – and Hank is a Good Dog (or G-Dog for short).
Reluctantly kept on the straight and narrow by his connection to Hank, Andy starts rebuilding his life: getting a girlfriend, taking courses, and landing a job. But suddenly disaster is lurking, when Andy realizes that Hank is nearing the end of a dog’s limited lifespan.
This isn’t really an issue with the story, but with what it implies for Andy and Hank’s future. Quite likely, Andy will soon find himself mourning his pet. I always find those kind of stories hard to read because of the painful feeling they invoke, and just the hint of a pet’s death makes me shudder. Anyone who’s had a beloved pet die will understand what I’m talking about.
However, if that is the direction the story takes, it is sure to be a powerfully emotional story – powerful, but still painful. Even though it would weaken the storyline, part of me hopes Hank finds a way to cheat death.
Astro City has a strange kind of realism. It’s set in a setting full of superheroes, aliens, arcane magic, and other fantastical elements, but it finds the human element that everyone can relate to. On the face of it, this is a superhero story, but at its core, it’s about a man’s love for his pet.