ATLAS & AXIS #1 by Pau
While light in story, the comic provides an endearing nod to older comics and cartoon characters.
86 %
Charming throw-back to older comics

Something is charming about the way cartoons were drawn in the early 40s and 50s. The characters moved like they had no bones, over-exaggerated expressions to really show what they’re feeling, and just a general lack of subtlety. Not enough comics today utilize this older style. Instead, they favor more realistic, gritty designs. While not inherently worse than the whimsical, older look; it does help comics that incorporate an old-fashioned look appear even more unique. ATLAS & AXIS #1 by Pau benefits quite a bit from this phenomena. Though, it helps that a charming story of medieval dogs goes along with the style.

Dogs Doing People Things

The story begins with scenes of destruction. Dogs run from spreading fire and sharpened blades from an unknown enemy. A young pup watches helplessly in the forest as her friends and family are systematically slaughtered one by one. A rather dark way to start an otherwise cheery comic. The story then cuts to the title characters of Atlas and Axis in the present time of the comic. There’s a festival going on in their town, and naturally, they’re both late. When they see the fire billowing from the town, they realize it’s not from the festival. Their friends and family were taken by mysterious people from the north, and the two are determined to get them back.

Courtesy of Titan Comics

While this sounds like a dramatic set-up for a comic book, it all happens in a fairly tame way. Yes, characters die, but they do it in such a cute way. When one passes shortly after Atlas’ and Axis’ village burns, a little skull bubbles out of their mouth. Even though it should have been tragic, it made me smile. The story exudes charming moments like that as the two venture across the green lands of fantasy-dog-Europe; making it a light-hearted joy to read.

Issues with Pacing

Even though this comic works with the wholesome appearance it goes for, it’s not entirely without fault. The entire book clocks around 45 pages, yet despite its length, events seem to come and go a bit too fast. Once we meet the main characters, they immediately embark on this quest to find their loved ones. Moments later, they start looking for food. After that, they run into female dogs that one of them appears to fancy; and so on and so forth.

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Instead of getting to know these really adorable dogs, we flit from one scenario to the next. A lot happens in this first issue without any real understanding of the main characters aside from, “they’re dogs.” Hopefully, this gets addressed in later installments. As it stands now, it does make it rather difficult to understand these character’s wants and needs.

Courtesy of Titan Comics

Style Is ATLAS & AXIS #1’s Substance

Despite these qualms, the golden-age look of the comic does feel like a breath of fresh air. It’s just so fun seeing how Pau has his dogs run, using little circles to show their speed. He also depicts them crying with little dots streaming away from their face in such an orderly fashion. The art appears as such a breath of fresh air that any fans of older Walt Disney and Fleischer Brother cartoons must at least flip through the pages of ATLAS & AXIS #1.

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While the pacing of the story does feel a bit off, ATLAS & AXIS #1 is a charming comic on looks alone. The classic style helps set this comic above the rest. Plus, it helps that the main dogs in the story make adorable protagonists. While not the deepest story around, the whimsical tone will warm anyone’s heart.

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