Oink: Heaven’s Butcher
Written and Illustrated by John Mueller
Edited by Daniel Chabon
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Cover Price: $17.99
I should admit straight away that I wasn’t quite prepared for what I’d find when I cracked open Oink: Heaven’s Butcher by John Mueller from Dark Horse Comics. On the surface it looked like a horror comic with fantastic artwork that featured a race of pig-people, but once I got a few pages deeper I discovered that Oink was loaded with some pretty dark and disturbing themes instead of just your typical blood and gore.
The title character, Oink, is one of many pig-people created by a sinister controlling government that’s a nightmarish mashup of a Nazi-era dictatorship, twisted Catholic Church, and Matrix-like mad scientists. These pig-people were bred as an inferior race to serve as slaves for their demented human creators, but once Oink begins to think for himself and question if what he’s being told is right or wrong, he escapes his prison and hides in a chaotic city called Heaven. With the ghoulishly engineered bounty hunters known as Angels hot on his heels, our main man befriends two residents of Heaven who know of the true origins and purpose of his race and who want freedom for the pig-people.
That’s when things get really deep.
I can’t claim to read the mind of John Mueller and know exactly what kind of messages he was hoping to convey with this striking graphic novel, but I know that I thought long and hard after reading it about blind faith, the abuse of power and authority, the conditioning of young minds to best serve the interests of their governors, and what might happen if the human race as a whole lost all compassion for other beings. I told you — deep stuff.
Yes, Mueller paints a grim world in the pages of Oink, and his story is one that lingers and squirms in the reader’s mind long after the book is finished.
If you like a story with everything neatly explained and tied off with pretty bows, then this is probably not one for you. If you, much like Oink, like to draw your own conclusions and dislike being directed how to feel, then give Oink: Heaven’s Butcher a shot.