Animal crimefighters are a fun-sounding idea which, more often than not, turn out to be a lot darker than the concept would suggest. For every Detective Chimp, there's a half-dozen crimefighting dogs, horses and ... uh, marmots? I dunno ... who keep finding themselves standing between the mob and innocents, or become involved in putting a kibosh to murder plots, or break up kidnapping rings. I mean, this isn't even a comic book problem, have you ever seen The Littlest Hobo? With a title like that, there should be musical numbers ...
|Something is wrong with that lion.|
Rex is a service dog for Dan Baxter, the owner of Baxter's Circus and -- like all comic book circuses -- an institution rife with murder and racketeering. No wonder Ringling Bros is shutting down.
Baxter's circus really is a cesspool of anger and violence. On the very first page, we see bad trapeze man Karl haranguing good trapeze lady (and Baxter's daughter) Laura. Also, the circus' animal dealer, Jeffries, is threatening to take over the circus if the Baxters don't pay for a recent order of wild animals. Raise your hand if that's happened to you. I mean, if I had a nickel ...
Things get even more out of hand when a cart containing a vicious lion has its brakes cut loose, and it goes rolling through the crowd -- but Rex is there to stop it! He leaps on the roof to manage the brakes, which probably I wouldn't have put in a place where only a dog could get to it, but who am I, the boss of circus lion carts? Not anymore, I'm not, not since they started putting the brakes up on the top of the carts.
|Rex! Get the gun!|
He's so clever, in fact, that he appears to be able to convey information to his blind master. When Laura is almost killed due to a faulty trapeze line (which, by the way, Rex presaged from his seat in the bleachers), Dan sics Rex on a figure dashing away. "Someone's trying to escape! Catch him, Rex!" Uh, not to be insensitive, and I do have friends with severely impaired vision so I know that blindness is a spectrum and all that, but Dan you better be fucking sure before you set the dogs on that man.
Of course, it pays off ... Karl and Jeffries are in cahoots, not only rigging Laura's near-demise and loosing the lion, but robbing the box office and passing some counterfeit cash into the mix. Amazingly, it's Rex who manages to coerce a confession out of Jeffries, solving the case.
The story ends with a text box celebrating seeing eye dogs and encouraging the kids who're reading the comic to do nice things for blind people, like helping them across streets and putting them on buses. You know, basically, trying to convince kids to be seeing eye dogs. I'm for it, gives the tots something to do in the Summer.
|I forgot to mention "Tom the Midget," who does as much to|
catch the crooks as Rex does, really.