Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Tony Fleecs
Artwork: Trish Forstner
Colours: Brad Simpson
Layouts: Tone Rodriguez
Release Date: 24th March 2021
After claiming that Stray Dogs #1 was an almost perfect short story when I got my hands on an advance review, I was obviously super keen to get a look at this next instalment. With the cat (or should that be dog?) out of the bag in terms of the story, my fear was that this would feel flat or, and potentially worse, try to introduce a daft twist to keep the same impact as the debut. In both cases my worries were unfounded. Fleecs and the team have given themselves, and us as readers, the opportunity to further explore the machinations of this dark, Bluth-esque thriller.
With the premise firmly established, there’s room here to more fully understand the events that have led to this point. The man of the house and his ‘trophy’ room, and revelations of his modus operandi are enough to raise the hackles despite the disarmingly charming visuals. There’s also time for the other dogs to develop some personality, although the focus is still firmly on Sophie and Rusty.
I would hate for it to come off like I’m calling this a ‘filler’ issue, but rather than drive forward towards a conclusion, I think it’s fair to say we’re working on the details here. From the selection of the right dog for the situation to the rehearsing of lines in an effort to recreate an almost Anita and Roger “101 Dalmatians” moment, this can be all too uncomfortable. Whether intended or not, the idea of each dog having a story to tell, along with the concepts of looks being deceiving, I can’t help but feel there might still be much more to uncover. So, for all the discomfort and flesh-crawling behaviour this delivers, it’s clearly not going to be a stroll in the park towards the finale of the arc.
Aside from the riveting storytelling, I can’t overstate how much series this is enhanced by the art direction from the team. The cutesy warmth of the first issue remains, but this is a much more muted, notably darker issue. Part of this from the focus and location of the ‘private room’, but also regarding the subject matter on display. There’s one panel in particular, as Sophie and Rusty stumble upon the contents of the normally locked room, that I can’t help but draw attention to. There’s so many little hidden points of interest such as the ‘cuffs, bolt cutters, or choker on the mannequin that you can’t help but search for more. I love that feeling of reward from lingering on a panel like this…
Whilst this second issue doesn’t deliver quite the same knock-out punch for me that the debut did, I’m still firmly enamoured by this series. The combination of the warm visuals and visceral horror that this evokes are as unsettling as they are engaging.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster