(Big Dog Ink, 2013)
Review by Jeremiah Kielman
Written by Rob Anderson
Artwork by DaFu Yu
Rex and his crew, which includes dogs, cats & a gorilla with a baseball bat, are working their way across California to find a “safe place” with Rex’s human. Making their way through a forest they are attacked by a pack of primate escapees from the zoo. Help arrives in the form of Rex’s pit bull allies. They fight but are interrupted by zombie animals, or “rotters” as they call them, who attack everyone.
Joining forces with the primates they continue their journey. Along the way Rex and Kenji, the gorilla with a bat, teach the other primates how to use sticks and stones as weapons to fight the rotters. They also teach them how to carry backpacks and open canned food.
When we rejoin our heroes their former enemies, the escaped apes, join forces with Rex’s pack to fight off the rotter animals that attack. While the simians don’t like taking orders from a dog they do see the wisdom in doing as Rex says. The rocks and sticks he has them use on the zombie creatures work much better than bare hands. With the pack distracting the undead the apes make quick work of them. Except for one pesky bear that just won’t die again. But they manage to finish him off together.
From there an uneasy alliance is formed between the pack and the shrewdness of apes. So along with a group of squirrels who act as scouts they set out to find this “safe place” Rex knows. It could be a disaster, all these diverse critters traveling together, but Rex is smarter than your average bear and sees how to play to Chuma, the leader of the apes, like the proverbial fiddle. He also manages to keep the other canines from supping on squirrel. Through his cunning and guile the group makes good time on their quest. For Chuma’s group is now decided on joining Rex & Co. in the “safe place”.
But not all are so easily hornswoggled as the zoo apes. Namely Snowball the cat. She notices that Rex has nightmares each time he attempts to sleep. And after clearing a town of rotters without a casualty in order to save a small human girl who was trapped by a horde of the shambling brain eaters in a car. Her parents could do nothing but look on in horror once they ran out of bullets. At that instant our heroes sprung into action.
With Rex orchestrating the attack from the rear. Each member of their little menagerie playing their part to perfection. Even Kenji, who has spent more time with humans than with his own kind, has fun, losing himself in the heat of battle. He enjoys his time with his jungle cousins.
When Rex refers to the attack on the horde as “a test” Snowball is deeply suspicious. Why would they need a test if Rex’s human is in a “safe place”? She poses the question to Rex. He is silent. She tells him she can keep a secret so long as she is kept safely in the back when there is fighting to be done.
Rex goes to Chuma to discuss the next test. This one will be big. Las Vegas. Chuma can’t wait to prove himself. As Rex proves himself an excellent leader.
I can’t praise these books highly enough. Talking animals are just cool. As are gorillas in backpacks. Whats not to love?