Sophie is not a liar; more dogs remember the deaths of their Ladies. In this situation, are the dogs safe? Is there any way out for them? Find out in Stray Dogs #4 from Image Comics!
STRAY DOGS #4
Writer: Tony Fleecs
Artist: Trish Forstner
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 19, 2021
Previously in Stray Dogs: Roxanne became the second dog to remember her Lady. That evening, she smells something near the house. She, Sophie, and Rusty are joined by Victor as they crawl under the porch and see what looks like fresh graves. They scoot into the house just in time for dinner. Roxanne found a scrap of fabric, and this time Victor remembers his Lady being killed. As a firefighter’s dog, he also understands about calling with the emergency button on the phone, dials it, and barks desperately in the receiver. The Master apologizes to the dispatcher, hangs up the phone, and takes Victor out to the shed and there is a loud BANG!
DOGS IN A DARK SITUATION
Things take a serious turn for the dark in Stray Dogs #4 (probably worthy of a trigger warning for harm to dogs), although at first, we see what looks like Earl’s back story. He is an adorable puppy, and the Master gives him treats. Cutting to the present, the Master eats breakfast and looks at photos of women as all the dogs but Earl watch him, aghast. Earl grumbles at them that nothing is out of the ordinary and the Master takes care of them. And they all watch him grab his duffle bag, put on some gloves, and walk out the door without feeding them.
Sophie is convinced that he killed Victor. Earl is convinced he is not a killer at all. The talk turns to their faulty memories. Earl insists he remembers the day he arrived, and Sophie challenges him on this. She admits to not remembering her Lady entirely, and he suggests that she is lying. Then Rusty says that he remembers too, and Sophie accuses Earl of telling the Master about Victor. She then goes out to the shed to see about Victor.
Rusty and Sophie talk. He does not really remember, but he knows the other dogs listen to him, and he believes her. He did this to give her legitimacy. They join the other dogs poking around the shed, where they smell Victor on a patch of grass outside the shed. Inside the house, Earl watches them alone and then curls up outside the door to the forbidden room.
Finally, one of the dogs smells Victor in the shed. Sophie nudges the door open – it is unlocked. She is not afraid to go in. After a few moments she comes tearing out in fear, desperately begging the dogs to run and not to look in the shed. They do. Suffice it to say their worst fears are realized; Victor is dead. And it is pretty awful. But the fence is too high for the to climb over, and it is buried too deep for them to dig under.
As they continue racing around, looking for any options, Earl notices the door to the Forbidden Room is open and he pads in and patiently sniffs around. And he finds something that jogs his memory. He was just a puppy, distracted with a wonderful bag of treats, when his Lady was killed and the Master brought him back to the house, a new arrival in a house with eight dogs already, but not the dogs we know.
LIVING WITH A KILLER
Stray Dogs #4 is getting more suspenseful and the art does a wonderful job of supporting that. While we know the dogs don’t quite understand the concept of a serial killer, we sure do, so the opening sequence is as nerve-wracking as it is mundane. The Master is eating cereal (ha, ha!) for breakfast and looking at pictures. The knife block in the kitchen features prominently in a couple panels, and we know it’s a little odd to wear leather gloves in the summer. The dogs sit and watch him, but we see the emotion in their faces, which is almost universally the dawning of horror and helplessness.
The inside of the shed clearly shows that Victor is dead. The scene is not overly gory; there are no gratuitous guts strewn about. But if you are fond of dogs as I am, it can still hit pretty hard. But it is worth looking around at the glimpse we see into the Master’s psyche in this forbidden location. It’s a bit of a workshop. There are tools leaning up against the wall, although some of them are bloody. There is a dog calendar up on the wall. Little details like that make this killer seem even more twisted.
BOTTOM LINE: STRONG AND HORRIFYING
Stray Dogs #4 packs a powerful punch. The mystery and suspense are there and are compounded by knowledge that these dogs are just dogs. They don’t have special abilities. All they have is each other.
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Stray Dogs #4
The Master is unquestionably a serial killer, but would he turn against the dogs?