Throughout time lived on this Earth we’ve been drowned by our fair share of stories written and otherwise of animals being personified and completing human tasks. Duck tales. Bunnicula. Street Sharks. Clifford the Big Red Kaiju Dog. Wishbone. Wishbone. The world’s greatest detective not named Bruce Wayne who is also a Jack Russell Terrier. A dog. Man’s best friend. And so it comes to be that Sarah Dyer and Evan Dorkin (of “Milk and Cheese” fame) are here once again in the shadows with a wet rag to chloroform you once more with the latest entry in their talking animal mythos. However this time It’s “Beasts of Burden”, and it’s worth it’s bite.
Much like it’s oddball Master, Beasts of Burden has been lurking in the shadows for years with it’s first soft debut in 2003 when Evan Dorkin first wrote about a haunted dog house in “Stray”.
Since then this group of wise paranormal investigating puppers have popped up quite a few times. It wasn’t until 2009 that they got their own titled comic series aptly titled “Beasts of Burden”. Since then these doggos have sunk their teeth into multiple mysteries by teething on eldritch horrors, and playing their own brilliant game of fetch with the undead.
Now, Evan Dorkin and switch off franchise artist Benjamin Dewey return to bring you “Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory.”
In this first issue we aren’t so much led into the future as we are led for a nice walk back to the past. Here we meet the Wise Dogs, as they recline in the house with their owner Jonathan Hope. A world renown paranormal investigator himself with his own secrets. He has a house full of dogs and for good reason. These good boys are experienced necromancers and they’re all frothing at the mouth to regal each other with their own spooky stories. In this particular issue they give the floor to Emrys, A big furry Old English Sheepdog. Here he tells an ancient World War II tale of when Jonathan Hope and himself were invited to Northern Japan for a less than pleasurable reason back in 1947. They meet Colonel Rhodes and he informs them of some casualties in his platoon. Two missing, and eventually two dead. But the reason for their inclusion is that the bodies that came back did so without their heads. Now It’s up to Emrys and Jonathan, and mostly Emrys to figure this all out. Something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark as this case leaves us off with some shocking eldritch secrets.
The artwork by Benjamin Dewey is most successful when it shows our canine heroes in different poses and postures. All these beasts are anatomically correct and they show great personality. There’s a Hellboy-esque atmosphere in it’s color palate and tone that make it an easy engaging read. It’s a great start to a fun “Doggos vs. the World” story and definitely leaves you in a state of intrigue by the end. Beasts of Burden is worlds different than “Milk and Cheese” but a worthy successor for Evan Dorkin, and this franchise is alive and well with “Occupied Territory”.