Something is rotten at the old farmhouse. The new kid Sophie’s anxiety may be getting worse, but her memory’s getting better. And she knows there’s something not quite right about the kind man who brought her home to a house full of canines. For starters, he definitely killed her former owner. Secondly, he’s got a secret room that may or may not hold proof that he’s killed before. And third of all, he’s going to do it again. Soon.
The first issue of Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner’s Stray Dogs was a unique animal–a creepy, suspense-filled tale that matched the look of Disney with the tone of Hitchcock. The premise was crazy but the execution was flawless. This sophomore issue ratchets up the tension and reveals more about our mysterious villain. This chapter also incorporates a more noir-ish tone as our lead pups Sophie and Rusty sneak around and investigate their owner’s weird, forbidden room. They are a likable pair, whose personalities contrast nicely with each other: Sophie is a little bundle of PTSD while Rusty is an affable, Nick Wilde-type (I could even hear Jason Bateman’s voice while reading).
Fleecs has crafted an enthralling tale, wisely revealing the identity of Sophie’s lady’s killer, which keeps the threat close to home and makes the story that much more terrifying. While there’s very little in terms of action, the nuggets of information dropped about our killer reveal plenty about his behavior without spoiling the book’s endgame. It’s hard to predict where this story is going and if its final chapter will be a happy one or something else altogether.
Once again, the art here is brilliant. Forstner’s designs are equal parts Disney and Don Bluth, which makes for a nostalgic, yet tense read. Along with Brad Simpson on colors, Forstner puts a tremendous amount of energy into every page. The book is simply gorgeous from start to finish, with credit going to Tone Rodriguez and Lauren Perry, as well. If you haven’t picked up Stray Dogs yet, you owe it to yourself to pick it up. Just be sure to read it with the lights on. And to hug your pet afterwards.