By Will Holden

Okay, so this recommendation is going to begin with an admission. This comic book is only tenuously connected to Christmas. Despite the name and an appearance of Father Christmas and his elves, this is only a small bit of the tale spun here. Well, you try and find Christmas based indie comics, it’s not easy. This appears to be an underserved area in the indie market.

Battlepug is written and draw by its creator, Mike Norton with additional art and covers by Allen Passalaqua and published by Image Comics. It is the story of a young boy whose village is destroyed by an adorably sinister, giant seal. He is discovered, battered and broken by a group of familiar looking elves who carry him back to their home. This is where we get out Christmas connection, but perhaps not in the way it is expected.

When the boy arrives he discovers that Father Christmas is in fact an iron fisted tyrant and sentences the warrior to a lifetime of servitude. Is it during this time that the boy becomes a man, even getting the opportunity to enact revenge against the seal that devastated his village. Without giving too much away, the now Warrior breaks free from his festive prison and embarks on a mission to seek final revenge against whoever it was that set the seal against his village in the first place. Shortly thereafter we meet the titular Battlepug, a ginormous, magical pug that forms an unwanted bond with our nameless Warrior. Battlepug has the characteristics of a puppy, lolloping around and chasing sticks (or trees…) and communicates in typical pug fashion, with wheezes and snorts. Together the Warrior and Battlepug embark on a mission of vengeance.

The following adventures don’t really have very much to do with Christmas, but I am gripping this gossamer connection with both hands to make it fit this feature, so you’re just going to have to lump it.

The story is framed by an inexplicably naked woman (although it is very tame nudity) regaling this tale to two talking (but normal sized) puppies, one of which wants to hear about adventure and violence while the other is more compassionate towards the fates and feelings of the characters. I enjoyed this framing device as it gave the main bulk of the story a more epic feeling, like it’s a great work of fiction that the denizens of this world know of and share.

The art has a delightfully cartoonish style, especially when it comes to the Battlepug and the dichotomy of the giant, deadly seal with a giant, cute grin. Although the art does not shy away from action, it is not gratuitously violent and maintains a general Teen+ rating. The cartoonishness of the art feels fully in keeping with the tone of the narrative as the whole book has a vibrant fairy tale-like quality. Just, you know, with a huge pug.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys whimsical fantasy, cute animals, excellent cartooning and a little something different for Christmas.

5 chewed slippers out of 5.

Check out the first issue for free from Image Comics or Comixology!

You can find Battlepug volume 1 and more from these lovely places:

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