… the dogs (and cat) who protect the town of Burden Hill? In the graphic novel Beasts of Burden. [Vol. 1], Animal Rites, we learn about this lovely town, and its dark side. The humans who live in Burden are largely unaware of the evils around and within it, but the animals are another matter. Several dogs and a cat become protectors for the town, doing what no one else can. Together they take on demonic frogs, evil rats, zombies, a werewolf, and the vengeful spirits of tortured and drowned animals. Sometimes they have help from others in town, or from “wise dogs” with more experience and magic. Other times, they have to do what they can and hope for the best. Not every story has a happy ending.
This book contains the “Beasts of Burden” stories originally published in several Dark Horse anthologies and in the four-issue mini-series. The artwork and writing are superb and work well together. Each animal has his or her own personality, although they are definitely animals, and those personalities grow as they learn more and experience more. The stories range from heart-wrenching to horrific, but also contain touches of humor and beauty. Beasts of Burden is worth reading again and again to catch details you missed the first time, although the story of Hazel and her puppies will always make me cry.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)