Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Evan Dorkin
Artist: Jill Thompson
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Release Date: 5th June 2019
Oh my, this is a difficult review to write. See, I’ve never read Beasts of Burden before, never picked up a single issue, and I’m starting with the second issue of the fourth volume…
I’m going to assume that most of you already know about this series, but for those of you who don’t, this is a story of the occult, evil cabals of rats and crows and a heroic band of animals trying to keep their particular patch of ground free from all would-be aggressors, both animal and human.
Oh, and the animals can talk.
This is a series that already has a decade of world building and adventure under its belt, not to mention eight Eisner awards. It’s even had a Hellboy crossover, for Pete’s sake! So with sincere apologies to Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson for being so incredibly late to this party, let me tell you why Beasts of Burden might be my new favourite comic.
I think it’s a testament to the sheer skill with which Dorkin has built his world and characters that I have managed to pick up an issue so late in the life of this series, not even at the beginning of an arc, and still felt comfortable enough to grab the idea of what’s going on. This series is all about the animals, obviously, and it was really great that each and every one that we’re introduced to here has his or her own personality and character that sets them apart. Again, these characters are so well developed that I felt that I’d known them for years rather than a single issue. For me, this is an occult twist on Watership Down that has so much going on, and all of it is fabulous.
Now let me talk to you about the art. If Dorkin’s narrative and world building is what drew me into this issue then Thompson’s artwork is what nailed me to my seat. What Dorkin has written comes leaping and bounding (and hopping) off the page in Thompson’s art. Watercolour is always, always going to ring my bell, so for me Jill Thompson’s work was already off to a great start as soon as I picked up the issue. The characters that Dorkin has crafted in his narrative are wonderfully realised through Thompson’s skill as living breathing creatures that are unique, interesting and full of their own charm.
This is not what I’d call an ideal jumping on point but it should be close enough to the beginning of the arc for you to grab the previous issue without any problem. And you should most certainly jump on this. I’ve read two issues now (I read through the first issue of this run halfway through writing this review), and I am hopelessly and irrevocably addicted. If you’ve been a fan of Beasts of Burden for a while I think you’re going to love this. If, like me, you’re new to the series then please, please pick it up! This is a great series and I will most definitely be picking up the first three volumes on pay day and bingeing the whole lot in one sitting!
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek