The past few years have pretty comprehensively proved that, as much as Marvel would like it to be otherwise, no one really cares about the Inhumans. For a superpowered royal family who live on the moon, somehow they’ve never been all that exciting. But there is one exception. One big, slobbery exception -- Lockjaw.
Lockjaw is the Inhumans’ family dog. An enormous bulldog with a little tuning fork on his head and teleportation powers. Finally, a mere 53 years after he was created, Lockjaw has his own book. Maybe 2018 isn’t all horror and dread, after all.
Still, as much as Lockjaw lights up every page he appears on, it’s not obvious how to make him the star of his own book. He’s a supporting character who doesn’t talk. He is, after all, a dog.
Lockjaw #1 by writer Daniel Kibblesmith and artist Carlos Villa solves both of the above problems by quickly ditching all the Inhuman trappings in favor of a very human supporting cast on earth. The issue partners Lockjaw with an unexpected character from the history of the Marvel Universe. By its end, the two are thrown together with another familiar face, who is even more unexpected. I won’t tell you who either are, because one of the most delightful things about Lockjaw is how consistently it manages to surprise.
Here’s another surprise: how suddenly emotionally real it gets. The story touches on topics like loneliness and depression in a way that repeatedly broke my heart -- and then, within a page turn, glued it back together.
This is, after all, a comic about a magical dog, and Lockjaw delivers on that front. Villa has the cutest take on Lockjaw I’ve ever seen. There’s a remarkable doggy realism to every movement -- whether it’s struggling to stop after running or enjoying a scratch -- paired with perfectly cartoony expressions. It’s worth the price of admission all on its own.
Luckily, though, for that price you also get a bunch of great jokes, an emotionally involving plot and fun appearances by Marvel characters new and old. I believe there’s a saying about old dogs and new tricks, but Lockjaw #1 comprehensively disproves it.