Review: Back to the Zoo – Beast Wagon #2

Published On December 1, 2015 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Beast Wagon Chapter 2: Life Is A Zoo

By Owen Michael JohnsonJohn Pearson, Colin Bell, Gavin James-Weir


This one’s been far too long coming. My review I mean, not the comic – that’s been out since Thought Bubble. Thing is, I’ve had so much going on outside of comics in the last couple months that I haven’t managed anything but the real basics here. I took the decision to cull the review list right down recently, figuring there was no way I could get everything done. But Beast Wagon was one of the ones I knew I wanted to read and review… so, here it is, a bit short, way late…

Just to remind you – I’ve covered issue 1 a lot, including this interview with Johnson and Pearson, and my review of issue 1. It’s genuinely a fascinating, intriguing, utterly mad, and wonderfully so series… clever, different, intense.. and was quite rightly up for a British Comic Award for best comic this year. So it shouldn’t surprise you that issue 2 keeps all that going. And then some.

Beast Wagon issue 1 introduced us to the wonders of Whipsnarl Zoo, a place just coming to the boil, humans and animals alike all feeling the pressure of something strange happening. The heatwave doesn’t help, the animals too hot and fucking fed up with the detritus of humanity rolling in through the gates, dumb ass bastards us human folk are. But there’s definitely something else…. the toucan, Hermes was talking about it last issue…

“Today’s the day! The great event is upon us. The golden messiah approaches!”
“The solar happening affects all of us … by sundown all will be changed.”

We saw shamanic tortoises, religion spouting baboons, talk of a zoo uprising, and everyone is feeling it, not just the animals. We saw all the humans as well, and that keeps on here, everyone feeling the pressure, feeling the nightmare that is to come. And from the start with issue 2, we see the humans doing the venal human thing, profit over humanity every time. There’s a horny hippo, not understanding why his paramour seems more interested in her keeper than him, we get the humans going nuts, see the animals losing control, and it’s all brilliantly done by Johnson and Pearson, the sense of the approaching nightmare, a mass psychosis hitting really hard, the whole thing has such a phenomenal sense of tension, building and building and building and building. All in all this is a superb piece of storytelling from both writer and artist, a manic piece of brilliance.

So, short and sweet, not really a review, more urging you to buy into something really, really good. Now, a little art… should give you the idea of just how damn good it is..






Chapter 3 comes out in February, it’s going to be incredible. Join in.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

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