Comics, Reviews

Old Dog #5 Review: The Monster Within

Discover the secrets behind the Black Circle and Jack Lynch's connection to the monster rampaging through its halls.

Old Dog #5 Cover
Image: Image Comics
By: Javier ReyesFeb 23, 2024, 2:05 AM

Old Dog #5

Old Dog #5 Full Cover

Writer: Declan Shalvey

Artist: Declan Shalvey

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: June 13, 2023

Page Count: 32

Format: Comic

The latest issue in Declan Shalvey's new espionage series delivers its more shocking twist. Its final pages completely change everything we know about Jack Lynch and the rest of the Black Circle.

I first discovered Declan Shalvey from his phenomenal 2014 run on Moon Knight with Warren Ellis. The six issues he worked on as the lead artist were so monumental that they redefined who the character was for almost a decade, even influencing elements of the live-action Disney+ series. He depicted that character as someone more cold, calculated, and stylish. All while still maintaining the insanity of who Moon Knight is. Despite being such a brief run, it was more than enough to convince me that Shalvey is an artist to look out for because of his distinct flair for action and visual storytelling.

Shalvey has since made his name bigger within the comic book world. While he is still more known for his gritty art style, he’s expanded his work as a solid writer as well. His latest series, “Old Dog” from Image Comics, is the first time the creator has taken on the role of both writer and artist. Now on its fifth issue, the comic’s story is shaping up into something much bigger than it first seemed. Let’s dive into my review of it!

Old Dog interrogationImage: Image Comics

Story Overview

Jack Lynch is a disgraced CIA officer and was one mission away from retiring. Everything would have gone according to plan had he not found himself in the middle of a science experiment gone wrong. Despite being told to avoid conflict at all costs, Jack investigates his non-responsive team during what was supposed to be a routine surveillance mission. He finds his crew dead in front of a strange machine controlled by a mysterious scientist. Being the grizzled old dog he is, Jack shoots first but has no time to ask questions later. The console explodes and sends Jack into a coma.

Jack eventually wakes up years later to a different world with a new body that defies aging. The moment he wakes up, agents from the shadow group known as the Black Circle offer Jack a second chance at a life of action and adventure. They believe that a man of his talents with genetic superpowers will be an invaluable asset to their organization. With nothing left to live for, Jack accepts their offer and starts his journey to reclaim lost glory. Except the Black Circle have interesting plans for the old dog. Jack gets put into a team with the Black Circle’s top officer, codenamed Agent Retriever, Jack’s daughter.

Old Dog eyesImage: Image Comics


Up until this point in the story, "Old Dog" has lived up to what I expected from Declan Shalvey’s work. The art direction and action sequences are top-notch, while the story and character writing has plenty of grit and attitude. It’s been a fun ride following the intrigue surrounding Jack and the Black Circle, but the latest issue takes things even further. This issue drops a big revelation about Jack that completely changes the trajectory I expected from the series. What I thought was an espionage thriller with a bit of sci-fi flavoring has transformed into something with a monstrous twist.

Ominously titled “Leviathan,” this issue showed off Declan Shalvey’s abilities as a visual storyteller in a massive way. The panels constantly shift between a tense interrogation scene and flashes of a grotesque monster rampaging through the facility. The creative paneling used throughout the issue was made better by the incredible coloring. The tension of the interrogation scene feels palpable because of the gradual shift from pale yellows to intense reds. Meanwhile, the flashes of the strange monster are always presented with deep reds to contrast the panels around it. By the end of the issue, it felt like each page worked hard to build up to the series’ most shocking finale.

This issue was the best of the series by far. The first four issues felt like “missions of the week” following Rotweiller and Retriever on the field. After what went down at this issue's finale, it now feels like the main plot is finally kicking into gear. It was the perfect cliffhanger because it answered some questions about the series while opening up plenty more. Seeing the comic dig deeper into its sci-fi influences leads me to believe it's building up to something more unique than just another espionage story.

Old Dog Monster attacksImage: Image Comics

Final Thoughts

This latest issue of Old Dog hit a good balance between sci-fi action and spy thriller intrigue. I’m excited to see where the series goes from here after dropping a big twist about Jack and his role within the Black Circle. Declan Shavley has been on target with Old Dog so far, delivering his signature flair for action within a storyline that keeps you on your toes. It’s a series proving to have plenty more dark secrets to reveal.

Why You Should Read Old Dog

  • Brutal action scenes throughout the series 
  • The mystery behind the Black Circle is intriguing to follow 
  • The grittiness of Shalvey’s art style is perfect for the story of Old Dog

TAGGED: Image Comics