Writer: Doug Wagner
Art: Daniel Hillyard
Colors: Rico Renzi
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Daniel Hillyard & Rico Renzi
Variant Covers: Tony Fleecs; Jorge Corona & Sarah Stern
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: January 25th, 2023
PLUSH is the best comic about cannibal furries you’re likely to find. That’s a given. But while the premise is bizarre and the series mainly a comedy (though very off the wall), PLUSH #3 contains a surprisingly human core that shows off what this unconventional series can do.
Devin survived the slaughter at the police station and at the beginning of PLUSH #3 drives off with Keebler, Scratch, and Edie. Devin’s first reaction once he’s in a stolen SWAT van with the three furries is being upset that they won’t eat him (which leads to a short conversation about how they view eating another person as taking their soul as part of themselves). The group leaves the SWAT van by the side of the road, sets fire to it, and walks the rest of their way to their home. Their home turns out to be a mansion with amusement park rides. The rest of the issue is Devin getting a tour of the house and a little history on it.
The strange, deeply unconventional comedy continues in PLUSH #3. The concept alone ensures humor in every issue. But particular sequences always stand out. The opening takes place in the police station with Deputy Camillo who is still tied to the chair. Scratch makes a note that they’re leaving him something for fire protection (in this case a fire extinguisher dripping blood) before admonishing Keebler for taking the SWAT van. Scratch also pulls the hand off his costume so he can feel Camillo’s skin which he announces is very soft (if you’ll remember, Scratch was already impressed in the previous issue by Camillo being a vegetarian). Then, as the group leaves, Devin apologizes to Camillo as he grabs a donut from his desk.
The humor shows up again with the notion of the trio living in a house with amusement park rides. At first it comes across as quirky if not straight up bizarre. But Wagner delivers an explanation right off the bat during the tour Edie is giving Devin, and it’s a charming explanation. A wealthy man had built it for a woman he loved and her kids. It took five years. But when he finished the house the woman was insane. She locked herself in a bunker and refused to marry him. Edies’s father found the place abandoned years later, and the family moved in.
A surprising moment comes in the final pages when Devin gets his first look at Reimond, the man who wears the Keebler costume. Devin expresses surprise at Reimond being a man because he thought Keebler is a girl. Edie reinforces that Keebler is a girl. There is no further comment on this issue. I found it interesting that Wagner explicitly slipped this idea about one’s identity into the issue without any real comment (Hillyard’s art will dabble in this idea as well). The moment happens and everyone moves on.
Ultimately PLUSH #3’s big success is how it continues to develop Devin as a character growing into himself. In PLUSH #2 he had resigned himself to being eaten. Later Devin is upset that he isn’t up to the group’s cannibalism standards. But something finally changes with Devin about halfway through. When the group sets the van on fire, Devin asks if it’s wise to poke the bear–the sheriff and deputies are on their way, after all. Scratch responds that if “you’re gonna fight with a bear, why not do it with some panache?” Something clicks in Devin when Scratch says that and with the aid of a large stick he writes in the dirt “F*** you & f*** your cheating lying daughter too!!” Wagner has changed Devin at that moment.
If PLUSH #3, which has the most character development yet, is any indication this series will always lead with dark humor, and a lot of that begins with Hillyard’s art and Renzi’s colors. Seeing furry costumes covered in blood is such an incongruous sight that it invites a chuckle, however uncomfortable.
Devin’s appearance in PLUSH #3 is noteworthy. He is the only one who wore a furry costume but never wore a head and the only one to not change out of the furry costume when he gets to the house. He’s also the only one that retains any sign of blood, both on his costume and face. I’m not entirely sure why Wagner and Hillyard went with this visual, but the result is a character who seems lost between worlds, not quite sure where he really wants to land.
The most interesting component of the furries themselves comes in their visual depiction. Other than Devin, Wagner’s character development has been limited. Meanwhile Hillard is doing a lot. The head on Scratch’s costume is fierce while Scratch himself is all smiles. Edie’s costume is cute, and while Edie without her costume is attractive she is scowling almost the entire time. And I’ve already mentioned how Reimond is a man and Keebler is a girl. These contradictions work well because the visual contrast is so effective. The easy response is “of course they look different–they’re in furry costumes.” But Hillyard is telling us a lot about these people and their various identities in a way that is not unlike what Wagner did with Reimond and Keebler.
PLUSH is a series that almost certainly isn’t getting the attention it deserves. It’s a fun comic to be sure with a darkly comedic premise. But as PLUSH #3 shows, there is a lot more going on here. The furry costumes and the cannibalism probably gets the reader to open the book, but once they do they’ll discover a funny, fresh, and surprisingly smart series.