Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 proves that the best supernatural horror stories are those with a happy ending for all parties involved. Well, almost all of them.
Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer are the writers for the entirety of the Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory comic book series, including this fourth and final issue. Benjamin Dewey is the series’ artist, in addition to being the sole cover artist. There is, however, a variant cover by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer. Lastly, Nate Piekos is the letterer. Oh, and as for the previous issues, Dark Horse Comics publishes this comic book series.
Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 went on sale on July 7, 2021. You can get print versions from your local comic book store. Or, if you are fine with the digital version, you can get it straight from Dark Horse Comics’ own website here.
Warning: spoilers for Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 below. If you are interested in the adventures of cute doggies in a supernatural horror story, paws here and come back once you have returned.
Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 ~ Plot Summary
Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 picks up where the last issue left off, and we find out what happened to the doggy who died last time. Only, as it turns out, Mullins didn’t die. The dog sorcerer just put him into a magical healing coma. It doesn’t quite work though. It slowed down the infection, but it didn’t cure him. They have to go the source of the plague to do that.
The doggy party of Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 tracks the scent to a massive pile of decapitated heads, some of which include yokai heads. One of those yokai heads turns out to the head of the same oni they fought in the last issue. Apparently, it wants revenge, and it’s got a pretty tough skull. Fortunately, its open mouth is a natural weak point, as the doggy sorcerer demonstrates with a Fire-type spell right into it.
With that mini-boss defeated, our canine party remove their last obstacle to the final boss: Tsuchigumo. The infamous mother of spiders turns out to be awake, and is definitely the cause of the plague. As they are about to fight though, the Japanese dogs pull out a surprise trick. Think of it as an Undertale battle, where instead of selecting the Fight option, they instead select the Act option. The Act option opens up the ability to negotiate with Tsuchigumo. The negotiations are successful, and it allows the party to select the Mercy option and spare Tsuchigumo. Or at least, not have to fight her. Incidentally, Mullins also gets his curse removed, thus curing him.
Thus, this results in a Pacifist ending for Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory. Even the jorogumo back off from trying to kill them after the other yokai intervene. The dogs all go home, and we come to the present day where they reveal that Mullins was in the picture all along. “They all lived happily ever after” wouldn’t be an inaccurate way to describe the ending.
Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 ~ The Good
Seeing as how this is the final volume of Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory, I can’t not talk about the ending. I really like it. After that dark and depressing story, a happy ending like this one just feels soothing and refreshing. Even better, I like how they got to this happy ending. Usually, you’d expect the boss encounter to turn into a big fight, right? I don’t think I’ve read any other comic book where the boss encounter is solved via nonviolent means. Yes, there is a lot of flair in a big fight, but there’s also something to be said about a Pacifist route. As a fan of Undertale, this ending has my approval.
I also liked the main characters. Specifically: the fact that they’re all dogs. I like xenofiction stories that have nonhuman protagonists, and puppers are about as nonhuman as you can get. There’s also the fact that the story clearly integrates those nonhuman qualities with the plot. In fact, the whole plot wouldn’t make a lick of sense if they were human. Humans certainly don’t have the noses to track scents like dogs would. This is the mark of a good xenofiction story, and is thus another point in my favor.
Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 ~ The Bad
Honestly, I can’t find anything really bad to say about Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory as a whole, let alone this issue specifically. I guess the worst thing I could say is, again, I kinda wish the jorogumo looked a bit more spider-like. It’s a bit of a pet peeve and nitpick, but there you have it.
Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 is the fourth and final issue of this comic book series about doggy heroes fighting supernatural horrors. Only, this issue proves that sometimes, the Pacifist route achieves the best results. Interested? Then check out this comic book from Dark Horse Comics for yourself.
Source: Dark Horse Comics