A few years back, HeroClix, that comic book miniatures game, released an Independents set separate from their Marvel and DC sets. In there was a character named Johnny Alpha. As I played at the time, I almost instantly fell in love with that miniature. I put him on almost every team I made.

So, when DC published Strontium Dog: The Early Cases, I took the opportunity to learn about this character. As it turns out, he is just one of many Strontium Dogs or Search/Destroy Agents. Essentially, he’s a bounty hunter within a bounty hunter organization. The trade paperback was filled with fun stories, including a trip through an imaginary Hell and a time-traveling adventure involving Hitler. I enjoyed it immensely, enough to look for more.

Eventually, Rebellion Comics began publishing the Search/Destroy Agency Files. I didn’t catch them until the second one and was then unsure if I should get it, as I wasn’t sure how The Early Cases fit into this new trade run.

In any case, I did get the third trade (labeled a graphic novel) last week. I finished reading it yesterday.

It’s not as great The Early Cases but there’s some pretty good stuff in there. The “Strontium Dog in Rage” story is a pretty good read and probably the best of the stories included. It’s a revenge tale where Johnny Alpha seeks the killers of a friend and long-time ally of his (Wulf Sternhammer, a viking sent to the future from 739 A.D. whose origin is provided in this collection before his death). Johnny’s quest is side-tracked a few times by things unrelated to the killers, adding to my enjoyment. It’s a revenge tale that includes stories not based solely on that revenge. Good stuff.

One the biggest problems I had in reading these stories was MiddenFace McNulty, a Strontium Dog from Scotland. I don’t mind the character; he made for some interesting moments. I did, however, have trouble interpreting his dialogue. His words are written to reflect a thick Scottish accent. Most of the time, I can figure out what he’s saying. Sometimes, though, I get thrown off by the spelling or he says some word or combination of words I haven’t heard before. What does “jings” mean?

Even though this collection had its ups and downs and was by no means perfect, it was a bargain considering the price of comic books currently. It has enough good stuff in it that I don’t mind owning it. And since I haven’t mentioned so far, the art is superb, save one story that was not drawn by Carlos Ezquerra (the standard Strontium Dog artist).

Overall, I give it a 4 out of 5.