Rover Red Charlie is frankly, one of the most moving stories to have been released all year. It is a tale of three friends who just happen to be dogs that, after a great catastrophe, find themselves without owners and are now looking for a place in the world. Being one part post-apocalyptic survivor drama and one part The Incredible Journey, it is a book that is unlike most anything on the stands currently. There have been stories similar to this, at least in the talking animal department, like Pride of Baghdad and Beasts of Burden, but nothing really like this. The dogs in this book act like dogs, barking excitedly, eating grass, having fun running around and so on. And if they could actually talk, they would most likely sound something like how they are portrayed here. And it is all thanks to one man. Garth Ennis.
Yes, Garth Ennis. Strange as it might sound, the purveyor of fine works like Preacher, Crossed, The Boys, The Punisher, Caliban, War Stories and countless other works is responsible for a book featuring talking animals. Not only that, but for crafting one of the best talking animal books ever put out. It might boggle the mind and make you think about it for a few minutes as this is the man who has given the world characters like Arseface and acts of violence and depravity that very few could dream up. Yet it is true and despite all of his past writings, he creates a truly wonderful tale of friendship and brotherhood, of struggle and hope and takes you on a journey with the dogs as they make their way across America in the hopes of finding some sort of peace with their new life. It is a truly moving work that runs the gamut of emotions and while it may seem doubtful coming from Ennis, prepare to be flabbergasted.
One of the best things about this book is how humanity has taken a backseat to what is being told. Something awful has happened in the world and humanity is dying off and while we are shown little bits, you find yourself not even really caring, instead focusing upon the dogs and their plight and whether they are going to even make it out of the city, much less find something to eat. To make this book come alive was Michael DiPascale whose painted art was simply quite marvelous. Ennis might have given these animals a voice, but it is DiPascale’s visuals that truly bring them to life. For a tale such as this, having the right artist on board is important and it is hard to imagine anyone else really doing this book any justice. There is a subtle beauty in the script, but it fully blossoms with DiPascale and you find yourself mesmerized by each and every panel.
It might be easy to dismiss this story in favour of your regular capes and tights books, but it would be a mistake on your part for having missed a story as well written and as well drawn as this one is. There is some horror in the book, it does come from Avatar after all, but it is miniscule and really, when it comes right down to it, is a story of friendship above all else. It is a story of three friends banding together, through thick and thin and daring to live when all they know is gone. It is gripping, it is uplifting and it is good. This is probably the best book Avatar has released in years and Ennis has really outdone himself on this one.
4.5 out of 5