By Svetlana Fedotov
Well, here we are, another comic about a supernatural detective who’s seen too much and is SO over it. Of course, there’s a wildly vast array of characters with weird faces whom the populace may or may not see and uh, vampires? Yeah vampires. So of course, you’re asking, ‘Svetlana, why are you reviewing this comic then? Why waste my precious internet time here, at the world famous Brutal as Hell, when I could be jerking it to clown porn?’ Woah there, Pogo. Aside from my well-known love of sexy men fighting sexy ghosts, Image Comics newest venture, Wolf, is pretty damn good. A genuine noir horror mystery that actually does take itself seriously, the comic reads like an old timey pulp novel updated for modern audiences and set dead center in the last vestiges of American debauchery, Los Angeles.
The comic opens on the glowing landscape of the City of Angels as a figure encased in flames makes his way down the starlit desert. Suddenly, the issue cuts to said figure sitting calmly in an interrogation room, exchanging mythology lectures. Meet Antoine Wolfe, part detective, part soldier, part mythological creature; you know, he’s complicated. He’s blessed (or cursed) with immortality and uses his death dodging abilities to help others with the abilities to exist between the spots in our vision, or at least stop the bad ones from running amok. Of course, no power of the gods comes without its share of problems and when he’s sucked into a prophecy of end-of-the-world proportions, he has no choice but to answer the call, even when it comes in the form of an orphaned teen girl.
As stated, what really separates Wolf from other supernatural detective mysteries is that it actually takes itself seriously. Antoine feels like a genuine character and despite his “too damn old for this shit” air, it doesn’t weigh down his character. That’s the problem that occurs with a lot of other work; the leads become caricatures of the down-trodden detective ideal and lack any sort of depth. They turn into common tropes, a different version of John Constantine. With Antoine, by making him a recently retired soldier and a black man who faces racism, it gives him something else to work with and creates a genuine personality. I also love that the comic has decided to focus on mythological backgrounds for the creatures in the comic instead of popular culture ideals. We’re talking some Old Gods stuff, especially the side character Freddy who actually has tentacles for a face and speaks in the grandiose language of Lovecraftian writing. Fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods will seriously dig this work.
The creative team of Ales Kot and Matt Taylor do a great job of bringing this hard mystery to the general audience. The power couple gets creative on a burnt out genre and sure, they throw in some standard fanfare such as a prophecy-telling crazy lady and jerky vampires, but it still works. In fact, it does what it’s intended to do, move the story along to its wild cliff hanger. I dig Taylor’s artwork too. It’s not overtly complex but, like the writing, flows organically. Some of the angles are a bit rough but he knows when and where to accessorise the backgrounds and when to wash them out, so it all evens out. I would love to see more from these two in the future, I really feel that they could become the next hot comic team, like Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips or Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Either way, definitely go check out Wolf #1, it’s a double issue spectacular!