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Tribes: The Dog Years

Written by Michael Geszei and Pater Spinetta, Art by Inaki Miranda, Colors by Eve de la Cruz
IDW, 202 pp.
Rating: Teens (13 +)

Tribes: The Dog Years is a post apocalyptic tale set some time in the future after a biological accident has resulted in a large portion of humanity being wiped out. The survivors have banded together in small, tribal communities and live short, brief intense lives. Sundog is part of the Sky Shadow tribe and he leads a life already full of struggle and hardships, but things get more even more complicated after a helicopter drops an elderly and oddly dressed man into the tribe’s lap, an event that will reveal the history of the world and change the fate of mankind.

I had never heard of this story and came into completely cold and I have to say that I’m glad I gave it a chance as it’s a surprisingly entertaining and engaging tale. Sundog is clearly the main character and he starts out as someone who’s a bit of an outsider and on the periphery of his tribe, the Sky Shadows, due to various reasons. His inability to fit in causes him to clash with the more orthodox Sky Shadows, including Rockjumper, the next chief, on several occasions. On the flip side it also earns him the affection of Fallingstar, Rockjumper’s betrothed. Over the course of the story we watch Sundog grow and develop from a hesitant, outsider to a leader who ultimately forms his own, ragtag tribe of survivors, misfits and run aways. It’s very much an origin story, not just for Sundog and his group, but for the world in general, and because of this it does suffer a little bit from introductory-itis, but thanks to Michael Geszei’s and Pater Spinetta’s skills none of it ever felt shoehorned in and it certainly didn’t keep the story from being engaging and fun.

Inaki Miranda and Eve de la Cruz do an amazing job in the visuals department and this book is absolutely gorgeous. The character designs are fantastic and reminiscent of the Mad Max series of movies, featuring armor made from scraps of items left over from the previous civilization. Tires for armor, colanders for helmets, that kind of stuff. It’s a visually stunning book presented in a slightly larger than usual format. This has some mixed results in that it allows the visuals to take on a grander scope and gives the story a very cinematic “wide screen” feel, but at the same time it occasionally causes the panel to panel flow to move in odd directions. While this is noticeable at times, the use of border thickness helps to direct ones eyes in the right direction. The oversized format also means that you’ll need to view it a page at a time in the Emanga reader or you’ll be cutting off the edges.

Tribes: The Dog Years was enjoyable all the way through with a nice, big blockbuster feel to it. The visuals are clearly the high point but don’t mistake it for all sizzle as there’s enough meat to the tale to have me wanting to see a follow up.

Tribes: The Dog Years is available now from IDW Publishing and Emanga. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

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