By Dustin Cabeal
Anytime I can return to the world of Beasts of Burden; it’s a damn good day. It’s probably going to be a sad day too because as a whole the Beasts of Burden series are heartbreaking. The brilliance of the idea is that it’s a simple witches and warlocks story, but because all the characters are animals, it plays upon peoples emotional attachment to their pets. Nearly seeing a dog die in a magic fight is ten times more moving than any death in Harry Potter. Just kidding, I know that will piss some people off, but there is an insane amount of emotion in this series, and that’s saying something considering there are no people in the story.
The Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men doesn’t follow the usual cast of Beast of Burden characters. Instead, it goes to one town over. I don’t have the freshest of memories on this series, but I do know that a few of the characters have been previously introduced. The issue starts with a fire and the animals all running from it. Our Scottie on the cover is running towards the fire, and for the first time in a while we see a lot of magic happening. He’s protected by a bubble around him, so the flames aren’t touching him. He finds an elemental salamander that’s on fire and burning the forest down. He tells it to close its eyes, and it’ll all be over soon, but then he notices an enchanted animal trap around its leg. Instead of killing it, he helps it. He returns to his coven/pack just in time for the other dogs to have summoned the rain through a spell.
If you’ve read any of the previous Beasts of Burden stories, then you know that you should pick this newest issue up when available. There’s more going on, and the enchanted trap is only the beginning of it. Evan Dorkin’s writing remains fantastic on this series. It is unlike anything else in comics. The balance of magic and the supernatural with the animals it just brilliant. Part of that brilliance is how scaled down everything is, the dogs aren’t just flying around fixing everything instantly with magic. Yes, there’s a bit more than what the series normally have going on, but it’s also apparent that this pack is full of masters of their craft. Even still, it has a grounded feel to it. Like this could be happening while everyone is at work or school. The storytelling is masterful on this series, and because of that, I am always looking forward to more.
Purist will probably dislike the fact that there’s another artist on the book. I understand that there are conflicts in scheduling and other bits of life that make change necessary, so I wasn’t one to write off Benjamin Dewey’s artwork. That and it’s really fucking good. I didn’t even bat an eye when I saw it because he’s doing his finest at keeping the consistency of the series. Fans of the series will be pleased as its still water colored and detailed.
With Blackwood’s first chapter coming to a close this is a fantastic replacement. It’ll fill the void quite nicely and really it would be great to get at least one comic a month from Evan Dorkin as he is a talented storyteller with a unique voice. This newest chapter of Beasts of Burden delivers the good stuff so be sure to grab it when it releases.
Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #1
Dark Horse Comics