In Review: Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #4

This is an excellent series. Recommended.

The covers: Benjamin Dewey, the interior artist and colorist, closes out this series with Carter growling as he walks toward the reader on the Standard cover. To his right is an unhappy Emrys and to his left is Lundy with his head down. Behind all three are two of Tate’s militia, the group that Tommy (who helped capture them last issue) works with. The man holds an assault rifle, the woman a pistol. Both figures are ominous, dressed in red. Behind the five figures is a bridge one would find at a mine or quarry, as well as an obelisk. This scene is in the issue and spoils nothing, but teases much. The Variant cover is by Jill Thompson. Lundy, Emrys, with Carver and Miranda behind them, walk through a gorgeously green forest. However, looking down upon them are two raccoons. These climbing critters’ backs are to the reader. If one remembers an incident from earlier in this series, this cover has a very different meaning from this serene scene. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: Lundy, Emrys, and Carver are being brought into the compound in the mine that’s been taken over by Tommy’s allies. As he marches his captives into the center of the quad he’s teased with dog puns by several others. The three dogs are taken to the entrance of a mine to speak with the leader of this group, Tate. Behind the leader is an obelisk with a crimson pentagram on the ground. A hooded figure is tied to the structure. After laughing at Tommy’s fear at the dead farmer in the stream, Tate wants the dogs to speak, but they remain silent. “That’s okay, keep your traps shut. The old man’s told us plenty about you. He’s met your kind before. Even killed one, ain’t that right?” A mad looking cloaked senior steps forward. “Summer of’ ’75. Put two bullets in its brain. Shut it up just like that.” This prompts Lundy to say, “You’ll be paid back for that. Even if you’re lying. That’s a promise.” Laughing at getting the dog to speak, Tate says he’s mad at the dog for freeing the salamander, but “Anyway, the way I figure it, three wise dogs boiled down is almost as good as a fire lizard. Evens things out a bit.” The Brotherhood of the Red Serpent plans to sacrifice the dogs to raise a godling. The Wise Dogs have other plans. Evan Dorkin has a surprising move on 11, followed by a fiery response on 12. I was cheering the revelations on 13 and was loving and frightened by the what follows. Things go wildly out of control on 14 and 15. I was surprised by the decision on 18. The solution to the threat is epic. There was a neat twist for one character on 22 that’s beautifully ironic. The final two pages wrap up the story wonderfully with an incredibly joyous image. This is a sensational conclusion. Overall grade: A

The art and colors: Also concluding this series superbly are Benjamin Dewey’s illustrations and colors. The first page shows the dogs being brought into the compound surrounded by several people dressed in red with guns everywhere, stocked ready for use or held by the faithful. The bottom panel on the first page reveals that these people have something more than rifles. The top panel on 2 shows a terrific view of the entrance to the mine, the obelisk, the previous sacrifices, and a pen holding diggers. Tate and Faryn are awesome looking antagonists: big, brutish, and brazen. The old man looks like the Crypt Keeper before he died. The mania of the humans on Page 6 is excellent. The vision in burnt rose on 8 is deliciously disturbing. The actions and reactions on 9 are great and lead into a series of spectacular actions on 10. There’s a lot going on and Dewey keeps the pacing of the events quick, but easy for the reader to follow. The progression of the action is impressive, sick, and deadly. The reveal in a familiar emerald is like a rally cry and the crimson in the second panel on 11 is joyful. I shouldn’t have enjoyed it so much, but the third panel on 12 is awesome. The tease of what’s coming on 13 is fantastic with the partial double-paged reveal on 14 and 15 a big payoff for this series. The colors on the new character draw the eye as much as its nightmarish design. The team up on 18 is a smart visual look: complex in nature, but easily understood by the reader. Colors are key in communicating the plan of the protagonists to the reader. The sadness on the individual’s face on 22 is heartbreaking, even after what’s proceeded it. The final panel of the book, and of the series, is beautiful, joyful, and a perfect representation of triumph. I loved it. Overall grade: A

The letters: Blambot’s own Nate Piekos creates dialogue, sounds, whispered speech, and yells. The difference between the dialogue and whispers is its size, making each time a whisper is used intimate. There are several times this font is employed, but it’s at the end of Page 5 where it made me smile. The sounds by Piekos are spectacular, with SPULTCH, CHUMF, FOOSH, and SHRAAR! my favorites. Overall grade: A

The final line: This series was my introduction to these characters and now I have to find all of their previous exploits. The story is thrilling, magical, and creepy, and the visuals are gorgeous for the reality they create and frightening for the horrors brought to life. This is an excellent series for fans of horror. Definitely recommended reading. 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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