Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer ride again with issue #2 of Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory. Beasts of Burden is a long running graphic novel series about paranormal investing necromancers who also happen to be a group of dogs. This new series is told from one of our pupper protagonists and is about an old supernatural war story he happened to survive with the help of his master John Hope, and a scraggly nonamed stray he would meet and befriend. It’s comical in the right spots but it never takes away from the atmosphere created. The story continues to unwind and It’s proving to be a worthy successor for the franchise.
We last left our furry heroes in the midst of an esoteric pickle in the middle of 1947 Ogawara, Japan. Emrys, our Old English Sheepdog lead and his newfound Jack Russell Terrier Kato that now goes by the name of Mullins have gone out in search of answers to some unexplained grisly deaths. Luckily for us all, Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory issue #2 brings the same mystique and fun-loving energy that this franchise is known for.
Artist Benjamin Dewey brings us right back to where we left off. The combat is drawn colorful and playful with a humorous tone. Emrys and Mullins traverse the great outdoors into the unknown as they cross wide open landscapes and valleys. The art here definitely brings a certain sense of adventure to such a grim and dangerous mission. The focus as always remains on our four legged companions. They’re brought to life with such animation and fluidity in every panel almost always taking up the full shot.
This open roaming is perfect for the tone of this issue which allows the reader to get to know Mullins and Emrys as they get to know and trust each other. As the pages turn, the art and the night gets darker and darker allowing for an ominous tension to build. This all accompanies the direction perfectly. This buddening friendship is constantly met with reminders and warnings to turn back that they gnash their teeth at and fight the whole way until they have no choice but to listen.
The tone captures the reader’s sense of wonder. It’s an intriguing supernatural mystery and you want to follow these characters down this path. You feel the dread lurking around every corner when strange looking woodland creatures shapeshift but you also cheer for moments of triumph and character growth when Mullins proves his worth as a friend and a sidekick. As the enemies grow in numbers and weirdness our hero canines are forced to show what they truly are capable of no matter what the physical cost may be. In this tale of puppy pals, friendship reigns triumphant, but it is abundantly clear we’re only in the second chapter of this tale. As we near the last page we know that there’s much more story to tell and this mystery is only just beginning to unravel. Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory Issue #2 goes on sale on May 5th and is an engaging continuation to an always welcoming franchise. If you love reading Hellboy but can’t help but feel like it should only be about dogs, look no further. Your super strange prayers have been answered.