My first experience with Beasts of Burden was through a Free Comic Book Day crossover they had with Hellboy a couple years back. I enjoyed the concept of the story, and the moments of supernatural weirdness were supplemented by scenes of pure horror that still kind of jar me. I picked up their one-shot, Neighborhood Watch, this week in an effort to get back into the swing of things, and I wasn't disappointed.
Things I enjoyed:
- I always really like self-contained stories because they give characters the room they need to breathe without having the pressures of filling up more space than they need to. By breaking up this issue into more than one story, we're given a smattering of what this universe has to offer; it's a perfect launch point for people who were curious, but didn't want to pick it up for whatever reason.
- Fitting mythology in as a "story for young ones" really made me smile. I enjoy cautionary tales, and ones that tug on your heartstrings a little bit seem all the more better.
- The last scene of the book surprised me with its level of detail and the marked shift in tone it had from the rest of the book. Props to Jill Thompson for bringing her A-game to this one.
Things I didn't:
- As much as I said I enjoyed one-shots and smaller stories, the first and last tales kind of fell a bit flat, as they didn't really have a point. Taking the main characters and throwing them into weird situations is well enough, but to have them say "Huh. Well, I guess that's that" really left a bad taste in my mouth.
Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch
Dark Horse Comics
The Verdict: Pick this one up, as it's easily four tail-wags out of five. Strong writing (despite some obvious hiccups), some shockingly good art and a little bit of creepiness thrown in. Definitely what you want out of a one-shot.
You can follow Matt Demers on Twitter. He writes comic book reviews for the Snail and other places around Toronto.