The Beasts of Burden tackle yet another magical mystery.
Anthropomorphic animals are fantastic. Talking forest creatures have a long, storied history in the animated world, from Snow White to Howard the Duck. Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows exactly how easy and fitting it is to ascribe human emotions to wild/domesticated animals; there’s just something in their eyes that lets you know they’re not dumb creatures simply going through the motions of life. Writer Evan Dorkin, artist Benjamin Dewey and letterer Nate Piekos, with a cover from the amazing Jill Thompson, have been crafting truly emotional stories centered around a pack of mystical dogs and cats for years, telling tales of derring-do, body horror, and good ol’ whodunits. This author finds it rare to read a Beasts of Burden tale and not be moved close to tears, and if that isn’t good storytelling, then who knows what is.
Dark Horse Comics
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Prognosticating dogs and evil crows converge in Beasts of Burden
In the last issue, a family of ghost-hunters stumbled across the beasts of Burden Hill at a mausoleum just in time for the animals to save the children’s father from being possessed. This issue deals with the aftermath, as the local cats and dogs administer healing herbs to help heal the human, who had brought his family there in an attempt to pay off debts owed, by finding magical items for his employer. His daughter touches a beagle, who has a vision of her dead mother. The gorgeous watercolors and the attention to detail from both Dorkin and Dewey make this a deeply touching scene; whenever dogs are hurt it kicks in something primal in most humans. As the people and animals head back to their car they all are attacked by a murder of crows, sitting on a tree.
Dark Horse Comics
Beasts of Burden introduces it’s first were-husky, to gruesome effect
After narrowly escaping from the possessed crows, the father takes the beagle hostage, planning on trading him for a cancellation of his family’s debt. Ace, a husky once bitten by a werewolf, demands the release of his companion, and the father shoots Ace several times, depicted in several horribly emotive panels.
The family flees in their car with the beagle while the other animals attempt to help the injured Ace, who is overcome by the werewolf blood inside him, turning him into a very angry doggy. He chases down the car, busts through the windshield, and drags the father out, threatening his life if he ever returns to Burden Hill again. The several pages showcasing that might be some of the best comic panels this author has ever witnessed;Beasts of Burden is truly something to witness with your eyes and feel with your heart.
All the animals leave, and the family reports the accident as a run-in with a deer. The father becomes unintelligible, the police and glory-hounds of television and YouTube turn up nothing, and the daughter has a horrible nightmare showing all the beasts of Burden Hill ripped to shreds, focusing on the beagle that shared a vision with her. This comic is something to behold; 10/10, a must-read. Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.