It’s all too easy for me to bemoan the choices of the modern comic book publishers, but sometimes, it’s easy to find something to recommend. Something so original, so interesting, so well executed that it deserves every bit of exposure it can get. And since I’m a semi-public figure with a modicum of cultural influence, I’d like to go ahead and do what I can.
BEASTS OF BURDEN by DARKHORSE COMICS is a fantastic mini-series that is something like a cross between Benji and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This alone should be enough to intrigue anyone looking for something different. But I’ll go ahead and share a little more because this isn’t an easily defined comic book.
The first issue of Beasts of Burden starts, in many ways, in typical “secret world of animals” conceit. Then the rain of frogs falls, and the frogs start eating each other. It only gets weirder from there. Before you know it, our heroes are tracking down a demon in the woods and . . .well, it’d be a crime to give anything else away.
Beasts of Burden is a difficult book to peg down. The art is beautiful, but realistic. Even the expressions of the animals are rarely exaggerated. Instead, the art usually expresses our heroes emotions via their expected body language. There might be a hint of a smile or a glint in the eye, but for the most part, this is a very natural looking book. You might even mistake it for a “Homeward Bound” type story if it wasn’t for the weirdness.
But there is weirdness, and it can be surprisingly graphic. Nothing too shocking (especially in today’s modern comics) but there can be blood. And the second issue features a very dark story. Things are always tasteful, but that just confuses the issue more. Is this a horror comic? A fun animal adventures comic?
Actually, it’s both, and while that might be a delicate balancing act, so far the comic has managed to pull it off beautifully.
What is most intriguing about Beasts of Burden though is the way the story is told. Rather than starting at the very beginning, it seems as if we’re thrown in the middle. One of the dogs has been bitten by a werewolf, we’re told. Another has begun magical training. Both are important story points. I’m not sure if I’ve missed a previous mini-series with these characters or if the writer has just elected to skip the obligatory origin story. Either way, the backstory is handled well, and it’s nice to just get on with it.
It’s about dogs and a cat who encounter supernatural weirdness. It’s surprisingly sincere, and it never apologizes. So Beasts of Burden is a must buy as far as I’m concerned. So go ahead and run down to your local comic book store and give it a shot because anything this unique deserves all the support it can get.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,