Despite there being only three available issues, I’m declaring Kinski a must read comic book series. For what it lacks in momentary length, it makes up for in mystery and intrigue—vague yet accurate descriptions for a comic that hasn’t failed to impress me. Dropping us randomly in the corporate world of suits, hotel conference rooms, and frequent flyer miles, we are met with a protagonist whose actions are questionable and whose discretion is totally absent. Who is this man Joe and what lies beneath his façade of an average exterior? [Spoilers to Follow]In each issue, Joe moves further away from the man he is apparently perceived to be. By issue #3, Joe’s last remaining ally, his coworker Frank, begins to learn just what sort of crazed and reckless man he’s been sticking his neck out for. From the outset, Joe was established as a character that seems to be concealing a dark side. There are panels that depict moments in which Joe’s eyes fill with hate and aggression over the notion of losing Kinski the dog to another person, even if that person is the rightful owner.
His actions are impulsive and, often times, totally thoughtless. From the moment he laid eyes on the allegedly stray dog, he acted as if it was already his. Himself like a dog with a bone, he growled off interested adoptees, annoyed bosses, reasonable coworkers, and Kinski’s rightful family. Why thoughtless? Well, by issue #3, Joe is overridden with guilt and decides that the dog formerly known as Bosley ought to be returned. He jeopardized his career for this animal and he seems on the verge of losing both.While the first two issues showed Joe’s dark side, the third and most recent depicts what appears to be a Joe who has come to his senses. Dark Joe, a thief with an anger problem, spits in the face of those who oppose his vision. Even as he leaves the hotel with a dog carrier in hand, he turns to the hotel employee and taunts, “Yeah… it’s a dog. Get over it.” But as the newest issue establishes, there seem to be two Joes at war with one another in this story: the obsessive and dangerous Joe who puts himself before all else, and the suited-up chicken feed sales rep with a conscience. Dark Joe, however, seems to be winning.Life can be a brutal thing. Choices always have consequences and some decisions can’t be changed in retrospect. Sometimes, the hole you’ve dug yourself is too deep to climb out of. So is the case with Joe, who has had a change of heart in regards to Kinski’s rightful owners. He comes clean to Frank about the lengths he went to acquire the titular dog, and Frank is horrified. Despite, Joe still seems bent on making things right—that is, until complications arise. Will Dark Joe make another appearance? Or, will good Joe fend him off? Gabriel Hardman is the sole creator of Kinski. Writer and artist all at once, there seems to be nothing that he can’t do; in neither area is he lacking. Kinski is so much more than a story about a businessman who falls in love with a dog. At the same time, it is precisely that, and the way he manages to keep it exciting and suspenseful is nothing short of impressive. His minimalist style of artwork heightens the themes and mystery of the narrative, and yet the level of aesthetic detail is remarkable. Hardman’s faces say so much more than words or dialogue ever could.So I’ll say it again: Kinski is a must read comic book. That isn’t a claim I make light of, and here I make it adamantly. Comic books are a medium renowned for their larger than life and heroic characters. So, when a chicken feed salesman stealing a dog gets me this excited, and told in the very same medium that brought us Batman, I believe some credit is due. There is a heck of a lot more to Joe than meets the eye, and I’m willing to bet we haven’t seen the end of the darkness and fury that he seems to be brimming with.