Kieran Fisher reviews Beast Wagon #4…
Chapter Four – Gluttire.
Capacities are reached. Captivities are breached.
The penultimate issue of the critically acclaimed British Comic Award nominated series by Owen Michael Johnson & John Pearson, with letters by Colin Bell
Beast Wagon is easily the strangest comic book series of the year so far. It’s also one of the most intelligent, original, captivating and brilliant. With recent titles such as Wild’s End and The Mighty Zodiac, anthropomorphic stories have produced brilliance over the past year or so; but nothing this is a different beast entirely, and it’s unlike anything else going at the minute in any medium of entertainment and storytelling.
Describing what happens in Beast Wagon would be doing you a disservice as a reader. The series just continues to get stranger; yet in lieu with its fever dream-inducing qualities, there’s a lot to be said about human nature, our relationship with animals and our primal desires. If any comic has ever come close to feeling like the equivalent of dropping a tab of LSD and embarking on a spiritual journey until you find resolution, it’s this profound oddity.
John Pearson’s art is hallucinogenic, surreal and maddening. At times it’s even disturbing, while retaining an emblazonment of fun throughout. This actually typifies everything about Beast Wagon. Not only does it overload your senses with its penetrating visceral art; it will challenge your thinking process, tickle your funny bone and haunt your dreams. Such a cocktail of moods and tones shouldn’t go down as well as it does; but like any good cocktail, Beast Wagon feels exotic, dangerous and potent. Furthermore, Owen Michael Johnson’s dialogue is menacing and sharp, and every bit as vibrant as the illustrations.
Underneath the dizzying surface of manic talking animals, psychedelic imagery and panels of sheer hysteria, it poses some interesting questions about humanity itself – which is where the more horrifying elements come into play: In a day-and-age where headlines are made on a seemingly weekly basis regarding the mistreatment of animals, it might strike an emotional chord with nature lovers. It explores giving in to primal nature as a source of entertainment and comfort, so don’t expect to come away from it feeling like you can be on good terms with humanity. Though, you will feel optimistic about the future of this series and its creators, because they’re making quite the outstanding impression with Beast Wagon.
Go in knowing as little as possible and expect to come away having discovered something special. But if you’re already aware of the strange journey that is Beast Wagon then you’ll be pleased to know that #4 reaffirms its status as the must read series of the moment.
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