Written By Chuck Dixon
Illustrated By Victor Toppi
3-Issues, B&W Comics Format
Eclipse Comics, 1992
Chuck Dixon has written a lot
of crime comics. Most of them, though, have headlined such spandex-clad
characters as Batman, The Punisher and Catwoman.
Mad Dogs, however, is a straight-up, no bullshit crime story; dark, brutal, action-packed, and with nary a cape nor cowl in sight.
Brennan, an ex-cop booted from the force for rule-breaking and
excessive force, is charged by the Philadelphia D.A.'s office with
forming a special, quasi-official anti-crime unit. He proceeds to
recruit four more loose cannons like himself and one sexy "Dirty
Harriet," before setting his sights on bringing down an Asian drug
dealer named Billy Lin. Without badges or warrants, his team swings into
action, and before long, bullets are flying, blood is spraying, and it
looks like his new team's days are numbered.
some hardcore stuff. When we first meet Brennan, he's sucking on the
barrel of a .45, about to eat a bullet. Pretty much every member of his
team is responsible for at least one dead criminal before they even join
his squad, and the depiction of gang violence in the series is
disturbingly realistic. Dixon's dialogue is tough and convincing, and
characters are skillfully and economically established in a minimum of
pages, leaving plenty of space for the elaborate action sequences.
art is the very definition of "gritty," with intricately detailed
linework bringing considerable texture and atmosphere to the urban
jungle setting of Dixon's tale. The crumbling slums and dilapidated
crackhouses are so lovingly rendered that you can almost smell the rot
On the down side, Toppi's storytelling can
get a little muddled at times, and in a few places, poor placement of
word balloons by the letterer made following the dialogue a little
confusing. Overall, though, the book is nearly as satisfying visually as
it is narratively.
According to Dixon: "The genesis of this series is interesting.
was creating new properties for a Swedish publisher and they
specifically asked for a very violent police thriller. When I handed it
in they were horrified. They paid me but never published it. I offered
it to Eclipse and they picked it up."
is a mean, violent crime story with interesting – if not necessarily
likable – characters that deserved a sequel (or two). Too bad that never
happened. But in many ways, this feels like a warm-up for the tales
Dixon would go on to tell in mainstream books like The Punisher, and those are worth reading, too.
Four out of Six Bullets