After a strong Kickstarter campaign, a critically acclaimed first issue and a recent preview of some of the second issue…..Beast Wagon is sure to be on a lot of people’s “Must-read” list…….including mine.
Writer Owen Michael Johnson & artist John Pearson set the bar high in issue #1 and with a face-to-face between human & lion to close that one out……we face the aftermath of that in Whipsnarl Zoo. The staff are running around as they try to organize a statement for the press but while this is all going on…….the animals are playing out their own little bubbles of existence. The penguins are having a domestic, the monkeys are getting organized and the hippo’s are getting past those post-sexual injuries and back into full consciousness. As mash-ups go – that’s an eclectic mix of events to happen among any cast let alone a whole zoo’s worth of animals & visitors.
The humanized animals having their own conversations starts off as an instant comedy release but the harsh reality behind those slap you in the face as the truth behind animal cruelty and the quest for freedom begin to bubble to the surface. Johnson keeps the mix of plot threads held together well as the soap-opera of events blend seamlessly to build an overall picture of the human characters being mainly idiots or oppressors while the broad range of characters among the animals keeps this title firmly focused on their plight.
Then there’s the art from Pearson which seems to reach a whole new level compared with the first issue. It feels like as the story progresses he is challenged to a number of different elements but he juggles those well and matches Johnson step for step as the story unfolds. The plot combination gives this a crazy sense of realism that somehow works and helps to make this not only one of my favourite indie’s of the year but one of my favourite comics of the year – FULL STOP. Bold, brash, inventive…….but ultimately brilliant as the creative team emphasize just how good their title is……and it’s no great surprise that it’s earned a nomination in this year’s British Comic Awards.