‘Billionaire Island: Cult Of Dogs’ #1 Review: Smart, Fun, Much Needed Satire From Mark Russell And Steve Pugh
by Olly MacNamee
We return to the scene of the crime, so to speak, in ‘Billionaire Island: Cult of Dogs’ #1 with Mark Russell and Steve Pugh delivering a debut issue crammed with well observed and well executed satire. Reporter Shelly By returns to
A lot has happened in the world since Mark Russell and Steve Pugh’s biting satire on the wealthy in the first Billionaire Island series, but not much of it good. Well, not for those of us who make up the other 99% of the global population, at least. Although, on the flip side, it has certainly given Russell plenty to harvest and plenty to comment on in Billionaire Island: Cult of Dogs #1. A debut issue teeming with well-observed social commentary masquerading as dark humour. A comic that once again so eloquently and enjoyably puts into words, and pictures, the frustrations many of the readership will be feeling about the real world, but exaggerated. Although since the first series, our own world seems more and more like a comic book version of reality each and every day. Art imitating life, and all that. And much of it reflected skilfully in this issue.
Of course, what also helps sell this book is Pugh’s realistic sensibilities when it comes to the art. While a good part of the world building is rather futuristic, it’s not that far from the mark. After all, the billionaire class get want they want, and what they want is often high-tech, high-end design and impossible to afford for most. And so we get a backdrop of opulence and opportunity. Opportunity for Pugh to include several standout visual gags that aren’t too far from the truth. Just check out the depiction of a 2020 billionaire-sponsored rocket launch that many will immediately recognise from the recent adventures into orbit by Jeff Bezos. Or, the extravagant Canto-Loop complex that’s interiors are all sleek, smooth, streamlined luxury enveloped in a ridiculously conceived exterior.
Navigating through the opulent excessiveness is level-headed reporter (well, someone has to be), Shelly By, and our narrator, catching us up on the way of the world since the richest people “went on permanent vacation… face down in the Caribbean,” two years previously. A voice that questions the world and recognises the rot set in back in the ‘80s with the lie we all bought into; trickle down economics. One of the few sane people in this mad-cap series and much needed to keep the story somewhat grounded in a world suffering from the collapse of the economy, but with a sliver lining as we witnesses communities coming together to save themselves. For good and for bad.
And in pursuing this story she is invited to Bel Canto Campus, the bolt hole of the deceased Rick Canto’s beneficiaries; his father and, of course, Business Dog. The aforementioned seemingly some kind of Howard Hughes type lock-in with a nurse that oozes untrustworthiness, beautifully captured by Pugh. An artist who knows the importance of physiognomy in the portrayal of characters and the deliver of the story. Indeed, the whole issue is full of such characters, both rich and poor, all creating a more diverse, and believable world.
Billionaire Island: Cult of Dogs #1 is a richly layered debut issue that allows Russell the best platform to elaborate on his personal world-view. A world view well informed as reflected in the smart, sharp script. All the more terrifyingly brought to life by Pugh. And out now from AHOY Comics.