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

This is a welcome addition to the Beasts of Burden collection that familiar fans and new readers alike should feel comfortable picking up.

Evan Dorkin’s Beasts of Burden returns with a fun, brisk, and intriguing new miniseries introduction that, alongside Benjamin Dewey’s fantastic artistic offering, walks the perfect line between fantastical and dark.

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What’s it all about? Well, Dark Horse’s preview promises:

A heroic pack of canines known as the Wise Dogs set off on a mission to clean up a Pennsylvania corridor plagued by seemingly unrelated occult disturbances that include a fire salamander and a horde of mutant lurkers.

As far as I’m concerned, Dorkin, Dewey, and the rest of the creative team here execute that promise near flawlessly.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

While the mystery at the center of the issue here, a rune-etched animal trap, may not be inherently interesting, the way Dorkin scripts the events around it undeniably is. The Wise Dogs are a fantastically compelling, hilarious, and admirable bunch. And, while the sheer realized nature of the world can make it difficult to determine what details are actually important, muddling an otherwise crisp pace, it’s hard not to appreciate them nonetheless as our veritable menagerie of heroes set down the path of finding out who — or what — is out to harm their fanciful ecosystem.

Equally fun and spooky is Dewey’s lush depiction of the world these animals live in. Toeing the line between the issue’s light and dark elements — dancing between eldritch blasting beams crackling with energy and a shockingly woeful omen of a deceased dog — is no easy task, and the visual elements here more than merely accomplish but exceed especially in the issue’s unexpectedly spooky and thrilling conclusion.

All said and done, it’s a unique first issue from what familiar readers know is a unique book but also one that feels entirely accessible to those unfamiliar with the world of wise dogs their occult powers. I highly recommend.

Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #1
Is it good?
A fantastic return to the world of wise dogs, their magical powers, and the dark nooks and crannies between. This is a welcome addition to the Beasts of Burden collection that familiar fans and new readers alike should feel comfortable picking up.
Dorkin's writing is crisp and refreshing -- the animals talk exactly how you would expect they might but it's not overwhelming.
Dewey's art is jaw-dropping beautiful as a varied watercolor palette brings the world to life.
There's just a little too much going on both in plotting and art; it's hard to tell what's important and what's scenery.

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