In Review: Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #1

Treat yourself and open this book and marvel at the four legged heroes who battle the supernatural.

The covers: A pair to pick up to satisfy your predilection for supernatural pooches. The Standard cover is by Benjamin Dewey, the interior artist and colorist. In the rain, around a pentagram they’ve constructed, sit Dempsey, Brigid, Miranda, and Dempsey. Behind them looms Lundy’s head in profile and behind him is a burning forest. Cool tease of this issue’s first ten pages. The Variant cover is by Rafael Albuquerque. Against a beautiful green forest, Lundy, Emrys, Brigid (I could be wrong), Miranda, and Demsey consider the reader. This is a solid cover that introduces the characters to the reader without showing ay of their supernatural abilities. Overall grades: Both A 

The story: In the Pocono Mountains, four days out from Burden Hill, a fire rages. Animals flee the flames, with a doe yelling at the creatures to run. As the throng makes its escape, a Scottish Terrier runs toward the flames, its eyes glowing an eerie green. The other animals call the dog crazy and foolish, but they don’t know what this canine is capable of. He projects a ball of energy around him to protect him from the flames. Finding a clearing, he stops and sniffs the air. He changes direction and runs again, stopping only when he’s found his prey. What Lundry finds is very surprising, but not as surprising as the item on Page 6. The dog shows what he’s capable of and a mystery is begun on 7. Writer Evan Dorkin does an incredibly smooth job introducing the characters to new readers, but in a way that will not dull faithful fans. The protagonist dogs are tested by a large, frightening group of foes and it’s an incredible battle. This fight is surprisingly brutal and reveals something ominous to the heroes. I refuse to go into more detail with this story because it’s an absolute pleasure to read. I fell in love with the characters and I now find myself realizing I should have followed these characters much sooner. I have a lot of catching up to do with these animals’ exploits. One issue and I’m a fan, Mr. Dorkin. That’s the sign of an outstanding writer. Overall grade: A+ 

The art and colors: Benjamin Dewey is the artist, and as there’s no stated colorist in the credits, so I’m assuming he also colors his own work. This book looks incredible. The first page is a splash of the mountains that’s mired by the orange stain of flames and a billowing inky cloud. A turn of the page shows an excellent menagerie of creatures bolting from the flames. Though he’s introduced on Page 2, it’s on 3 where Lundy shines. He looks so strong as he races into the blaze and his green eyes increase the uniqueness of this character. There are only four words of dialogue and two sounds on the fourth page, requiring Dewey to tell the story with his images. I’m really impressed with how expressive Dewey makes Lundy. He keeps the dog realistic looking without dipping into Disney-esque cartoon creatures. The final panel on the page is a great visage of discovery. The item discovered on 5 is equally impressive for how it’s rendered and its outstanding colors. There’s a key use of blue on 6 to draw the reader’s attention. An important plot point is shown in the fourth panel on 7 and it’s vicious and wrong on several levels. The introduction of the other characters on 9 is great because I wasn’t expecting them to gather around such a construction. Page 14 has a terrifying image that had me reacting as the character sees it. One of the dogs employs an ability on 16 that’s accompanied by some cool, trippy colors. The individuals that appear on 18 are excellent and their design is fantastic. The actions that follow their arrival is awesome, with the dogs’ abilities showcased. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the exceptional use of blues, yellows, and greens on these pages. This is my first exposure to Dewey’s interior work and I’m leaving this issue to scour the Internet to find out more of what he’s done. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, yells, dialogue, quiet dialogue, sounds, newcomers’ dialogue, and spell casting are brought to life by Nate Piekos of Blambot. The opening scene uses a very soothing font that creates the effect that this location should be pleasant, but deceptively introduces the reader to the fire. There are several instances of quiet dialogue and all work exceedingly well: a small creature’s dialogue, a character mutters to himself, and the whispers of two characters at night. There are several sounds in this book, but I believe that Dewey inserted many onto his own art (Pages 4 – 6, 17, and 19). The other sounds occurring during the closing confrontation are wonderful. Several different styles of lettering appear on 20 demonstrating Piekos’s skills. Overall grade: A+

The final line: It’s no burden to fall for every beast in this book, be they protagonist or antagonist. The scares are great, the drama outstanding, and the visuals superior. This is perfect reading for fans of horror who think they’ve read it all. Treat yourself and open this book and marvel at the four legged heroes who battle the supernatural. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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