Tommy, the farm dog, agrees to show the Wise Dogs where the warlock camp is. Why are they working in an old mine, and what awful thing lies sleeping within?
Writer: Evan Dorkin
Artist: Benjamin Dewey
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 24, 2018
Previously in Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men: The Wise Dogs made their way to Arthur, a human veterinarian who patches up the wounded Dempsey, and keeps him and Brigid at his house to rest. Reduced in number, the Dogs make their way to Derrington, fighting off some monstrous raccoons on the way. In Derrington, the news only gets worse. They find a barn full of dead bodies – both human and animal.
GROWING TENSION IN THE WORLD
Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #3 starts right where the previous issue left off. Tommy, the surviving farm dog, tells his story. Warlocks came down from the mountain, working and trading with the farmers. In turn, the farmers raised lurkers for them. Last night the men came down with guns and monsters. Tommy was out with the sheep, and hid from them. Gradually he tells them about the rituals these people are doing to try to wake up something big and powerful that is sleeping in the old mine. The Wise Dogs get ready to head up there, and Tommy insists he can help them avoid traps and find their way. There is a little side discussion – local dogs are not Wise Dogs, and he could die. But eventually ,they agree to bring him along.
The tracks are oddly clear for some time, until the dogs encounter an area of the forest that is heavily webbed. Miranda ignites the webs, and the dogs pass by the giant worms who made them. Then they find the remains of a ritual, and the hanged bodies of the dogs who originally came to ask their help. At this, Tommy turns to run off, runs into a pond, and a zombie arises form it, only to get its head blown up by Lundy. The Wise Dogs are cool customers and serious workers. The zombie is a dead farmer from the town, with totem sewn into his neck. Tommy shares with them the layout of the camp. Lundy and Miranda do some scouting, and the dogs head further into the mountains.
They fight thornlings, and a cave full of lurkers. Tommy is excited about pitching in to help. Then Lundy tells him to go. The Wise Dogs are going on; not him. He suddenly runs off, and Carver and Emrys chase after him. And so it turns out that Tommy wasn’t really a dog after all. Emrys and Lundy figured him out from the start. (Tommy did feel a little odd to me, too, but I like how the dogs deduced that he was not real.)
Then the warlocks show up. Tommy has led them into their territory, past the barrier, where the totems lie. Their spells won’t work here – only ritual magic does. But the dogs left Miranda behind, outside the barrier. The Warlocks send some creatures down after her. Miranda is still in training and she is in for the fight of her life, holding off wild boars and small humanoid creatures. The lead boar taunts her for running out of magic, but she pulls deep from her reserves and draws it up once more.
BEAUTIFUL AND TERRIFYING
The art in Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #3 just takes my breath away. I could keep looking at it forever. Well, maybe not so much the scenes of carnage and entrails, which we see plenty of. The coloring is somewhat muted, which softens the images a bit, but some scenes are pretty intense. There are a lot of dead things and certainly a lot of blood in this issue.
The depiction of the all the dogs is top-notch. They look and move like dogs, but there is just that touch more expression in their faces than normal dogs can do which lets us clearly see when they are suspicious, angry, resolute. There is not a lot of joy in this issue. And Tommy seems oddly eager, trying to be deferential, but almost desperate to come along with them. This is reflected in the art. Then, when we find out he was a fake, it is satisfying, as though something just felt a little off about him all the way through. And it is interesting how much of that personality is part of the human he actually is.
The monsters and magic also look great. The magic starts from the dogs’ eyes, so they look pretty impressive. The monsters are odd, wild, and not something I would ever want to run into.
BOTTOM LINE: A COMPELLING AND SUSPENSEFUL STORY
I’ve been a dog lover for years, and Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #3 hits me right in the gut. I am pulling for these dogs. I love these dogs. They’re strong and they have attitude (not to mention power), but they are still dogs, now stranded without access to their magic, up against humans who have both guns and monsters. The action is well paced, and there is enough mystery in the story that I don’t feel like I already know the ending.
Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #3
The action is well paced, and there is enough mystery in the story that I don’t feel like I already know the ending.