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"Stray Dogs" Pits Loveable Pups Against A Serial Killer

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This cover for Stray Dogs #1 is an homage to The Silence of the Lambs, one of the movies that inspired the latest from writer Tony Fleecs.

This cover for Stray Dogs #1 is an homage to The Silence of the Lambs, one of the movies that inspired the latest from writer Tony Fleecs.

Sophie Meets A Pack Of New Friends

The following review contains spoilers for Stray Dogs #1 from Image Comics.

In the debut issue of "Stray Dogs," the new comic book series from Image, we meet Sophie. She is a timid Papillon who is thrust into a terrifying new situation and can't shake the feeling that something is not quite right about the man who has "rescued" her.

The five-issue mini-series is from writer Tony Fleecs, artist Trish Forstner, and colorist Brad Simpson. They get an assist on layouts from Tone Rodriguez. "Stray Dogs" is obviously a labor of love from all involved. The idea of talking dogs going up against a serial killer might seem outrageous, but in these creators' capable hands it works a lot better than it should.

Sophie is introduced to a group of other stray dogs at the home of a seemingly nice man. He has rescued her after Sophie's former owner "threw her away." Rusty is the leader of the pack and he takes Sophie under his wing as she tries to settle into the new environment.

Sophie is a nervous little thing, and is initially overwhelmed by the attentions of the other dogs, who are overjoyed to have a new member of the pack. Rusty and the rest of the gang take her on a tour of her new home, in hopes that she will calm down and settle in.

The tour goes well until Rusty points out the man's bedroom and tells her, "we all sleep in there with the master." Sophie immediately has an "accident" on the floor at the thought of sharing a bedroom with the man.

The reasons for Sophie's innate mistrust of her new master soon become clear.

Meet Sophie, the star of the new Image Comics series "Stray Dogs."

Meet Sophie, the star of the new Image Comics series "Stray Dogs."

Sophie Wasn't Really Abandoned

The story kicks off with a very nervous Sophie at the veterinarian's office with her former owner - a lady whose face is never shown. We do see a red scarf she is wearing. The creative team takes great pains to put all the focus on their four-legged characters; we never see the face of the man who "rescued" Sophie, either.

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After the chaos of Sophie's first day at the house, the man finds her sleeping and offers her food. Noticing that she is trembling, and thinking she is cold, he then offers her a red scarf as cover. Sophie sniffs the scarf and the scent of her previous owner triggers a horrible memory.

In the flashback, we see Sophie's previous owner returning home with a bag of groceries only to be confronted by an intruder who attacks and murders her. Sophie witnesses the murder and has apparently been suppressing the memory. It all goes a long way toward explaining Sophie's timid demeanor. She's suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Spurred to action by the memory, Sophie rushes to tell the other dogs about their master's malevolent activities. "He killed her and he brought me here," she tells them. Are all the dogs there for the same reason? Is their master a serial killer?

Sophie's claims are met with disbelief and disdain from the other dogs.

Rusty is the only member of the pack who takes her aside and promises to help figure things out.

"I don't know if I believe you or not," Rusty tells Sophie. "But I really can't think of a good reason you'd be lying. So we're gonna figure this out."

The final scene sets up an investigation into Sophie's claims - and a potential escape plotline. "I know every corner of this place," Rusty says. "If the master's done something like you say, we'll figure it out. And if he is a killer, I'm gonna get us all out of here."

The main cover for "Stray Dogs" #1 from Image Comics.

The main cover for "Stray Dogs" #1 from Image Comics.

Throwback Artwork Sets The Tone

The story in Stray Dogs #1 is straight-forward and the artwork is clean and crisp. It's a delight to get to know all the different dogs and their very distinct personalities. The first issue does a bang-up job of setting the stage for what promises to be an entertaining mini-series.

The throwback artwork sets the tone and gives readers a nostalgic point of entry for the series.

A movie deal is already in the works and it's easy to see why. The media landscape is cluttered with crime stories, and this one has a unique hook sure to pique the curiosity of movie-goers.

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