There’s been a lot of confusion about what’s happening in this story, at least for me personally. Sure there’s been some social commentary, but the overall plot was still hidden from us which made for an interesting couple of issues. Now though, with the third issue of Beast Wagon, we actually know what’s going on. It does however get insanely more fucked up as a result. We begin with the writer we’ve been following as he pushes through to the other side of things. His name is Patrick and he comes face to face with a giant turtle… or tortoise. That’s on me I can’t tell the difference and the Ninja Turtles haven’t helped me at all. The turtle explains that Patrick is the Shaman they’ve been waiting for and that he has something to show him. Their interaction continues throughout most of the issue and reveals the most to us.
We check in with the lady that was in the Lion cage and she opens up about feeling a deeper connection to the lion. It may not seem important, but pay attention to this scene. We also head back to the really sad hippo scene. The results aren’t pretty, but then that’s the point of this part of the story. The ending is… well it’s a pretty big “holy fuck” moment that I’m not going to spoil for you, but it explained another element of the story that’s alluded us.
Beast Wagon really is unlike anything out there. I don’t really know if it’s a statement against zoos or just animal captivity in general. It feels like that or at least part of that, but for as much of the real world this story includes it gives us a glimmer of hope for a happy ending. I mean maybe. Who the hell knows at this point, but there is the potential. As much fun as the animals talking like normal people and the dark humor associated with them, it’s still a real downer of a story at times. Hopefully there’s something coming soon to balance that. If not, then it needs to go even darker. Either way it seems like writer Owen Michael Johnson has it figured out and planned out.
The art is a huge part of what makes this story dark and kind of creepy at times. The giant turtle is so detailed and real looking that you’re taken back by it. The art is also what makes the human dialogue attached to the animals so damn funny or in some cases sad. When the male hippo is justifying his actions and rationalizing the female hippo’s outburst, it’s so real that you forget they’re animals. John Pearson continues to deliver impressive and original artwork for this series. There’s nothing else that looks like it.
Quick shout out to Colin Bell who is by far one of the best letterers in comics. He makes sure the jokes hit and that the conversations flow naturally all while working with Pearson’s crazy/amazing layouts. No joke, the lettering is super important in this series and Bell delivers.
Beast Wagon isn’t going to be for everyone. But if you’re brave and you can read a story with social commentary without feeling that it’s attacking you somehow then give Beast Wagon a look. I really mean it when I say there’s nothing else like it in the world of comics.
Beast Wagon #3 Writer: Owen Michael Johnson Artist: John Pearson Letterer: Colin Bell Publisher: Changeling Studios Price: £2.99 Format: Mini-Series; Print Website