In this adult fantasy, millionaire racecar driver Curtiss Hill is not only a fierce competitor, but an excellent driver. The world looks upon him as a generous philanthropist and all-around good guy, but Curtiss has a dark side where he’s much willing to do anything to win, even cheat. His chief competitor is Rowlf Zeichner, an equally gifted driver, but the two have one major difference: Dino, Curtiss’ mechanic. Dino is a genius whom Curtiss takes for granted until the war that has been quietly playing in the background becomes personal and Dino disappears. Did I mention that all of these characters are dogs?
This is an interesting story where nothing is quite what it seems. Set in a fictional 1930s, creator Pau has woven in a very gradual character arc for the narcissistic and opportunistic Curtiss. At the beginning, I really hated that character, but the art pulled me in and I wanted to see where he was going with it. I wasn’t disappointed. The pacing was perfect, and I loved the racing panels, as I felt like I was in the middle of the action. The addition of a full page highlighting the local newspaper has hints of what is happening outside their small world, so pay attention to that.
All of the characters are complex which adds to its depth, but the heart of the story lies in the war in Kalkany. Reminiscent of Nazi Germany, cats are fleeing extermination by the leading political party of Kalkany, the Pitbullists, and someone is helping them. This story is ultimately a lesson on how one person can make a difference, which is something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.
I look forward to seeing more of Curtiss’ character development.
Note: Though animals are the characters in this graphic novel, I would rate it “M” for mature audiences due to some sex scenes and other adult themes.
Creative Team: PAU (writer/artist), Frank Cvetkovic (letterer)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics