Monday, July 27, 2015

Review - Wolf #1 (@ImageComics)

"How do you feel about myths?"

There are advantages and disadvantages to being a werewolf. For instance, an advantage is insane strength. A disadvantage is a propensity to maul anything in your path uncontrollably. Being able to do all that AND be a detective? The jury's out as to whether that's an advantage or disadvantage, but you can find out how Antoine Wolfe handles it in Wolf #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Ales Kot, illustrated by Matt Taylor, colored by Lee Loughridge and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

Antoine Wolfe, a hard-boiled paranormal detective with a death wish, has to cope with sudden responsibility for an orphaned teenage girl who might be the key to the impending apocalypse, California-style.

If there's anything that Wolf #1 excels at, its setting the tone. Kot has gone to great lengths to create a world where werewolves live alongside vampires and hosts need to offer straws to Cthulu-like creatures. Such a wide variety of legendary creatures gives the otherwise standard detective story a lot more depth to it, as well as reinforcing Antoine Wolfe as a problem-solver who can't seem to solve his own problems. And that's what much of the issue coalesces around--Antoine's dealings with anyone and everyone, where some look to him for assistance and others he's beholden to for some unknown reason. Kot uses the first half of the issue to build the universe and the latter half of the issue to explain some of the stakes facing the characters in said universe.

There's an exceptionally clean look pervasive throughout Wolf #1 that has a dramatic impact on the story itself. Taylor's rendering of supernatural LA is fantastic, as he eschews dystopian-appearing characters for those who look "normal;" more befitting of a situation where supernatural legends walk among humans in modern day LA. There are some instances where this cleanliness gets a little muddy and Taylor illustrates scenes with what appears to be a looser approach--facial expressions lack detail and body types come across as distorted in some panels. Taylor infuses the book with a plethora of mirrored panels side-by-side, showcasing opposite sides of the conversation that works to give the reader a more thorough understanding of how both parties would likely approach those situations. Loughridge relies on colors that act as something of a mood ring for the book, as every page seems to have a colored filter applied to it that underscores the events on that page.

Wolf #1 isn't an easy first read, as there's a lot crammed into the issue. That's not to say that it isn't worth checking out--just that it's going to require a few readings to fully appreciate everything being created. Because it's an oversized issue, there's some bits that seem to drag a little bit, but it's very likely that Kot has a grander plan in mind that will more tightly tie everything together as the series progresses. The look of the book feels convincing, in that Taylor and Loughridge do a great job of creating a world where humans regularly interact with supernatural entities with little attention paid to the species disparity. Wolf #1 feels a lot like a twist on John Constantine with a bit more detective work thrown in for good measure.

Wolf #1 is in stores now.


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