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‘Plush’ TPB (review)

Written by Doug Wagner
Art by Daniel Hillyard
Published by Image Comics

 

Sometimes you need a demented, sorta silly, light read. I mean, what else could you say about a love story wrapped around a cult of cannibal furries?

Some of the horror elements Wagner and Hillyard employ work great.

When Doug sees the cannibal furry family for the first time, Hillyard uses tight horizontal panels combined with the sound of one fursuit’s dog-collar bell to signal doom.

And as Hillyard illustrates violence to unflinchingly gonzo places, Wagner ties some of those killings to character and story.

However, for all the gruesome killing and eating human flesh, something’s off about this book.

Maybe I was looking for more story?

No, that’s not quite it.

It’s the love story between Devin and Edie, the woman inside the dog fursona. It’s supposed to tie the story together, but I don’t think there’s enough development of their romance for me to care about them. Devin’s feelings for Edie are meant to unleash him because he has found true love, but, again, with a cannibal cult?

I think Plush is trying to be a story about a down-on-his-luck guy who finds the will to stand up for himself. Devin’s in a bad way. His fiancée is pregnant with a jock asshole cop’s baby. That same fiancée’s father is the town sheriff and is trying to blackmail Devin into marrying his daughter so he can cozy up to Devin’s moneyed family and political power.

And even Devin’s own mom isn’t taking his side.

So when Devin meets Bo and his cannibal family, Devin learns the family’s ways and asserts himself as he has to literally fight for his life. Bo’s fursona is a goat, but he immediately resembles Satan. And yeah, the modern satanic churches use the concept of Satan as rebellion against authority for authority’s sake. (Don’t think I didn’t catch that, guys.)

But why does that narrative manifest via cannibals – the one thing nearly everyone recoils at? Even in a horror fantasy, that’s not the monster I’d like to be or identify with.

Every bit of the corrupt sheriff threatening to destroy Devin’s life (how will his frame-up job hold up, exactly) pales by comparison to the cannibal murders.

A troublesome bit in the story involves the Keebler character: a cisgender man who operates inside a bimbo-faced femme mascot suit as a female identity, and whose violence is often psychosexual in nature. It feels like Wagner wants to humanize the furries but also revel in the freakshow depictions and notions of furries.

Sure, we’re supposed to root for the furries over the cops and the redneck hunters he enlists to take out the furries. (Hillyard draws them with the stereotypical Deer Hunter crazy eyes and rickety grins.) But you’re telling the only other option is to join the sick furry cannibals and murder people? These beatend-down-man-against-unjust-society fantasy stories that edgelords love (I think Joker has taken the crown from Falling Down) tend to hold little appeal for me.

Grade: B-

 

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