Image Comics’ Stray Dogs brings us another wave of goodbyes in Stray Dogs: Dog Days #2. So if you’re in the mood to visit some of the best canines around — and have your heartbroken at the same time — make a point of reading this latest issue by Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner, available now.
Stray Dogs: Dog Days #2 continues a series of one-shot stories focused on the individual dogs that made this story come to life. Most of the stories in this collection occur before Stray Dogs‘ events, which adds a strong bittersweet note to it all.
There’s something very melancholy about seeing the life of a happy pet before their life (and the life of their owner) gets turned upside down. However, it is a gentle comfort to know that they had love in their life.
One of the best parts of Stray Dogs: Dog Days is that readers finally get a chance to know a bit more about each dog – not just the canines who stole the show. Yes, it comes at a price, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
*Spoiler/content warning: Stray Dogs and Stray Dogs: Dog Days are essentially Silence of the Lambs merged with All Dogs Go to Heaven. It gets pretty heavy at times, especially for animal lovers out there. Please keep this in mind.
It sincerely feels like every panel in Stray Dogs: Dog Days #2 (and the series as a whole) was designed to tug at our heartstrings. It certainly succeeds in making us feel a plethora of emotions, thanks largely to Tony Fleecs’ writing.
There’s no point in pretending that this is a light-hearted series — it isn’t. Yet even with that fact in mind, it does feel like Stray Dogs: Dog Days #2 is darker than its predecessor. Before, it was easier to pretend that these happy moments were almost outside of the larger story. That is more difficult to do in this issue.
That is likely due to the dramatic (and twisted) beginning of the issue. Readers are thrown right into the thick of things, with a quick reminder of what Master was really up to this whole time.
Despite that heavy introduction, it is impressive how many surprises and little details are woven into these short stories. Some provide insight that maybe we were better off without, while others offer a much-needed sense of closure.
All things said and done, Stray Dogs: Dog Days #2 tells us stories about Henry, Sophie, Earl, and Victor. However, other hounds appear here and there, only when it makes sense for their appearance. Victor’s story is by far the most satisfying of the set, as it gives readers a sense of closure, alongside a good place to say goodbye (again).
Before talking about the artwork inside Stray Dogs: Dog Days #2, we must take a moment to talk about the variant covers available. Not only are there a ton of them (the ones included in this review are only a small sampling), but the sheer breadth of them is impressive. The references are all over the place, showing a sense of humor that is sometimes morbid (but still very much appropriate).
As for the artwork inside Stray Dogs: Dog Days #2, it is perfection, as always. Trish Forstner makes this series what it is. In addition, there’s Brad Simpson, who provided the colors for this issue.
Several of the stories in this issue rely heavily on nonverbal elements to build the narrative. As such, Forstner and Simpson do a lot of heavy lifting here. The end result makes it worthwhile, as there’s a lingering feeling that comes with finishing this issue, one that takes some time to fade.
For me, it was page thirty-three that cut to the quick. Four seemingly simple panels, and yet it feels like they carry the weight of the world. For lack of a better description, they almost feel hauntingly real.
As for the colors, they are vibrant and alive. This makes for a stark contrast to the story’s tone. But it is also where much of the charm for this series comes from. Here it is easy to see where All Dogs Go to Heaven created inspiration within the creative team.
The wanted posters at the beginning of each chapter hit home as well. I don’t think they would have carried the same level of import if not for a certain dedication to detail through lettering and colors. The lettering helps to further enhance each and every scene, especially as the calm of the before merges into the here and now.
Stray Dogs: Dog Days #2 may not give readers all of the closure they’ve probably been craving, but it comes close. It is yet another goodbye to the series that feels exceedingly final.