By Will Holden
Writer: Tony Fleecs
Artist: Trish Forstner
Colourist: Brad Simpson
Publisher: Image Comics
Okay, so I’ve already gushed somewhat about this series (Check it out) but as we begin the penultimate issue, the stakes, the pressure and the excitement have built up into something genuinely absorbing.
I had to read this issue twice in quick succession due to my first reading being at breakneck speed as I ate up the story, the second to really take in all of the wonderful detail. This issue contains some revelations that, while not upending the plot, provide some heart-rending moments and sets up the crescendo for the last issue. If nothing else my anticipation for the finale is now brimming.
As with my previous review, the art remains stunning, a slightly uncanny-valley combination of Disney’s 60’s era cartooning set against the horrifying implications of having a serial killer as your Master!
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. By the end of the third issue, several of the titular Stray Dogs have remembered that they once lived somewhere else and had a Lady, whom the current Master had killed. The dogs represent some kind of trophy, but this connection is lost on our intrepid canines, but the facts of the matter really come to a head when the gang find the partially taxidermied remains of one of their companions. I have especially enjoyed the aspects of how the dog’s remember, the story plays off the fact that canines have very limited short term memory explaining how and why they had settled into this new life prior to Sophie, the new dogs, arrival.
Alongside the present day action we also get a flash back to one of the oldest dogs in the house, and the one true defender of the Master, Earl. Earl is a good old boy who believes the Master has been nothing but good to them, also, from his own boasts, Earl can smell a killer and he doesn’t smell one here. However, Earl has been in the house longer than any of the other dogs and when his memory is finally triggered he realises the terrible mistake he has made.
Each of the dogs has been built up over the course of the four issues so far, making them feel like real characters with meaningful personalities, some are there to provide a bit of comic relief from the otherwise dire situation, but none of the dogs feel superfluous to the tail (get it? God, I kill me)
As I mentioned above, I am chomping at the bit for the final issue and, at risk of jumping the gun, will be planning to pick this up in the beautiful hardback this book deserves. This story has been a great read in singles, with each month providing time for the characters and plot to be absorbed, but I also know this will be a fantastic reread and a story I will come back to again and again.
5 belly rubs out of 5, Just go and get it, you fools!