Review - Alabaster Wolves #1

What do you do if you're an albino with an angel looking over your shoulder, telling you who to kill? Would you hope the angel tells you to take out that person on the train that is taking up three seats with their belongings? Or maybe your boss who just doesn't trust you and micromanages all your work? If you're Dancy Flammarion, your orders are more likely to be killing those of the monster variety, as is the case in Alabaster Wolves #1 from Dark Horse.

The first issue of five is written by Caitlin R. Kiernan, illustrated by Steve Lieber and colored by Rachelle Rosenberg (covers by Greg Ruth and Michael Avon Oeming).

Alabaster Wolves #1 is all about introductions. Dancy Flammarion is waiting for a bus that may never come, but her exploits across the world are already noted by animals, such as random birds with a propensity to chatter. Her latest "mission" has taken her to a rundown town in South Carolina, yet you get the sense that Dancy has lost track of where she's been, where she's at and where she's going.

It's at this bus stop that she encounters a woman strolling along in the previously assumed deserted town. The conversation between the two sort of runs the gamut from genial to downright angry, until the two are facing off in a battle of wits for survival. Dancy's reputation is quite known in these parts and it's something that almost gets her killed.

To say that Dancy is interesting is an understatement. Kiernan has crammed so much character into Dancy in just the first issue that you're almost overwhelmed by her trials and tribulations. The way Dancy casually mentions that she doesn't really know where she is--yet doesn't really care--shows a worn wayfarer. She's perfectly content to strike up a conversation with a bird without batting an eyelash, perhaps a testament to something about the world she lives in that the reader has yet to discover.

Not only that, but Dancy seems to capitulate to the whims of this beastly angel looking over her shoulder. Her actions don't really seem to be her own, in that she knows what she must do to survive and doesn't really think twice about it. It's a powerful message and really makes you wonder if she wants to break free of the angel's grasp or if she really has no choice.

The combination of Lieber and Rosenberg on art adds a fantasy aspect to the comic. There's a really cool effect when the angel is getting madder at Dancy where the pages become consumed by orange, signifying the fire of the angel's rage. The rest of the book has a dark pall cast over it, which is a nice touch. Dancy isn't dealing with nice things here and the art in this book shows that.

Lieber did a phenomenal job with the stranger encountered by Darcy. As the pages progress you see the stranger slowly transform, both physically and emotionally, until she becomes this unhinged creature who loses all sense of decorum and resorts to simply being a savage. It really helps to pace the story and adds in a build up to the finale that gradually increases your curiosity as well.

There are a lot of books out there dealing with monster hunters fighting for whatever reason. What's interesting about Alabaster Wolves #1 is that you're not really sure why Dancy is fighting them specifically. Very little is revealed about her past in the first issue, other than she carries a small box full of trinkets. Whether or not those trinkets have any sentimental value remains to be seen, but as it stands now you know Dancy is smart and unphased by just about anything.

This is a series that could play out really well and have you wishing it goes on past five issues. As it is right now, we'll just have to hope that the story in the remaining four issues play out like it did in the first issue.

Alabaster Wolves #1 hits stores April 11 and interiors are below.