Continuing its absurd, moody mystery, Dead Dog’s Bite #3 doesn’t provide a whole lot in the way of moving the story along. It does, however, sustain its unique tone, which is honestly the main draw of a book that hasn’t provided a single concrete detail in its primarily implied intrigue.
Set in a mysterious town with mysterious ways, where a mysterious woman runs a mysterious peppermint factory and a young woman with a mysterious illness addresses the mystery of her friend’s disappearance, Dead Dog’s Bite all but revels in its withholding of answers, as if those answers are not the point at all. While some readers might find this lack of progress vexing, it seems to me that the sole purpose of the book is to maintain a strange, Twin Peaks tone. The abstraction makes us as hungry for details as our main character, Joe.
The book seems to go to great pains to sustain the abstraction by filling the runtime—a fourth-wall-breaking narrator, who has been relating indirect parables to us throughout the series, spends two pages watching a movie; two more pages are given to the above montage of cluttered library artifacts. What dialogue there is circuitous, frustrating to Joe if hilarious to us.
Creator Tyler Boss has a static, clean draftsmanship that makes Dead Dog’s Bite feel closed and airless, which contributes to the claustrophobia of the all-consuming mystery; it is not quite the tone and energy that permeated Boss’s last story, 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, which played with the hyperactive nature of the titular four kids by using that static draftsmanship to snapshot the characters mid-action. Here, even the action of dogs chasing a rabbit includes awkward close-ups to obscure momentum, adding to the sense of enclosure, of restriction.
As with 4 Kids, we find ourselves here, with only one issue left, feeling as if the narrative will be impossible to wrangle and resolve in that time; for those of you who read that story, you might remember that it was neither wrangled nor resolved, opting, instead, to use a strange flash-forward to knock the wind out of readers in the last two or so pages. At the time, I was concerned that perhaps Boss had simply planned too big for four issues; with Dead Dog’s Bite it occurs to me that this might be a major stylistic decision, a commitment to unique narrative phraseology. If that’s the case, then issue #3 may be a deep breath in before whatever oddity of the book’s conclusion takes it away from us.
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