Old Dog #1 is part of a brand new action series published by Image Comics, created, written, and art by Declan Shalvey, and letters by Clayton Cowles. An old C.I.A. Agent is nearing the end of his career. But after an accident changes him, he is provided with a new lease on life and a new set of missions.
The structure of this first chapter is deliberately misleading but brilliantly constructed. The beginning of the comic switches between two locations at different times, but they coincide with one another in a deceptive fashion. Shalvey superbly gets exposition into the comic early on before everything goes crazy, which sets a small status quo necessary for what comes next. The story is then flipped with a surprising concept, with several mysteries set up. What is excellent about Old Dog #1 is that the plot is relatively simple in the initial idea, yet Shalvey displays the potential for a wealth of opportunities through terrific storytelling. Realising the trick brought a smile to my face, then raised questions. The action is only glimpsed, but the spy-thriller elements are interesting.
The main character has a lot of backstory, and the start of a personality, but there is still a lot to learn. At first glance, Lynch is a gruff and bitter agent, tired after decades of service. It appears that the C.I.A. is entirely his life, as hints of tragedy and mistakes have driven him to the fringes of the ranks. Simultaneously quiet but answers when he is spoken, there is an air of a classic action star to his demeanor. The dialogue in the book is great for detailing the story but can get too bogged down in simply regaling the past.
The art is incredibly fitting for the gritty world Shalvey has created for himself. The art style shines because it is able to use both empty space and detail. Lines are only used when they need to be but beautifully capture so much. The buildings and cityscapes are stunning, able to create a sense of place without overwhelming the page. The level of detail is also pivotal for the main character in particular. In the beginning, Lynch is depicted as old and wartorn. His face shows signs of age, especially around the mouth and eyes. Due to events in the comic, his appearance changes sometimes. The effect Shalvey tries to achieve is presented with a remarkable method, one that isn’t immediately obvious and takes a minute to work out.
The colours are beautiful and powerful. Shalvey uses the colours both to denote time and atmosphere. It is most often one tone on a page but with a stunning variety of shades within that one base colour to provide depth and shading. Other times this tactic is used but with small and slight additions of a distinctly contrasting tone, for a sniper scope or even just background buildings. This is, again, subtle, but it is crucial for depth perception. The font for the lettering is perfect for the grittiness of the book; however, there was a typo on one page.
Old Dog #1 is an intelligent book built on playing with time and misdirections. So much of this first issue contains the most glorious parts of a 90’s action movie, with the gruff lead to top it all off. The comic, having strong elements of a spy story and existing in multiple timelines, means that you need to read through it repeatedly to truly grasp what the creator intends. Shalvey displays mastery in all forms of creation as he constructs a world from scratch. The grittiness we are only shown a glimpse of other characters and the true direction of the series, meaning that there is still a lot to learn.
Old Dog #1 is available wherever comics are sold September 28.
Old Dog #1
Old Dog #1 is an intelligent book built on playing with time and misdirections. So much of this first issue contains the most glorious parts of a 90’s action movie, with the gruff lead to top it all off. The comic, having strong elements of a spy story and existing in multiple timelines, means that you need to read through it repeatedly to truly grasp what the creator intends. Shalvey displays mastery in all forms of creation as he constructs a world from scratch.