Stray Dogs: Dog Days #1 Review: A Satisfying, If Heartbreaking Addition to the Original

Stray Dogs was one of the most unique and heartwrenching comics of 2021, delivering fans a murder mystery with adorable dogs as the central protagonist in a Don Bluth-esque art style. Offering gut punches aplenty and a gripping and tension-filled story, fans definitely wanted to return to this world, and Tony Fleecs, Trish Forstner, Brad Simpson, Tone Rodriguez, Mike Vasquez, and Lauren Perry have delivered that with the first of a two-issue miniseries titled Stray Dogs: Dog Days #1. Dog Days takes us into the lives of each of the dogs seen in the main series and shows us how they got there, and while these stories aren't critical to the main story, they are just as impactful and heartbreaking as the original.

Dog Days features the gorgeous art style of the original and the same mix of joy and heartbreak in each story, which gives us the backstories of pups Killer, Gucci, Aldo, Henry, Imogene, and Roxanne, though the book starts with the most unusual story. This story is focused on Killer, who seems to actually live at the murderer's house before he collects all of the dogs we meet in the original series. It gives us a glimpse at the man's life as his daughter visits the house with her boyfriend, and Killer is already wary of him, as the frequent tense moments of his arrival show.

Then we move to Gucci's story, and the team shakes up the storytelling method, as Gucci's story is told entirely through photos and Instagram posts. Again, there's a palpable tension because you know what is bound to happen, but the issue is always playing with how that event plays out and it keeps the stories from being formulaic.

Then we move to Aldo's story, which is probably my least favorite. It's still entertaining in spots, don't get me wrong, but it just doesn't really add much to Aldo's story and it doesn't feel like we learn anything that we didn't already see in the original story.

Although Henry's story is exactly the opposite of this though and is probably the hardest hitting of the issue. As opposed to the other stories, Henry and his owner's fate is viewed by another character, and though they weren't exactly friends, you see the effect that witnessing this event has on this character, and the result is a scene that will feel like a punch to the stomach for any pet owner.

By the way, if you're feeling angry by this point in the issue, I feel that's completely normal. Lord knows I was, not at the book of course but just at the acts of his blight on humanity. This is only heightened after Roxanne and Imogene's stories, which focus more on the dog's reactions. Imogene's especially, conveying a sense of loss and depression without saying a word, and while things don't play out all the way in Roxanne's story, the image you are left with foreshadows the heartbreak to come.

Stray Dogs is sometimes a hard series to get through, but you get the necessary payoff and resolution in the core series to help balance that out. You don't get that with these short stories, so for some, it could be more challenging to read this since it doesn't have that resolution by book's end. That said, Dog Days is a worthwhile addition to that original series and world, and fans of the series won't want to miss out on what Dog Days has to offer.

Published by Image Comics

On December 29, 2021

Written by Tony Fleecs 

Art by Trish Forstner, Tone Rodriguez, and Mike Vasquez

Colors by Brad Simpson

Letters by Lauren Herda

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Cover by Trish Forstner