Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Comic Review: Night of a thousand wolves

... might as well be called: Comic of a thousand gorgeous wolves.
The art ist beautiful. It is hand-drawn, giving the pictures a vibe of age and tradition which nicely tingled in the back of my head while I was reading it. That is not say that I dislike digital art (not at all) I just want to say that it fits the theme and the story, which is set in the middle ages. And yes, the masses of wolves by the artist Dave Wachter are very impressive. There are only minor nitpicks, such as the zombie wolves and the faces of the humans just don´t look as interesting as the rest of the art. It is still eye porn, though.

The story is rather classic horror with fantasy elements: A family lives out in the wilderness among green hills and sheep. One day, all of a sudden, the Grandpa grabs one of these sheep and an axe, he wants to sacrifice it, as it seems, to an unknown force called Nagbre. The father intervenes, he argues with the old man, but as they stop their argument end and they look up when they hear a noise, a wolf has already half devoured the white animal, now gnarling his teeth at them. And he´s only the omen of an army of wolves coming their way...

Unfortunately it is not as interesting to read as I am making it sound. The story is not particularly grabbing and it feels a bit like a "what standard-horror-route will they go with?"-game. It mixes up the formula up a bit in the middle of the story when the "family alone a in a shack"-story becomes a "city under siege"-story, unfortunately ditching the horror element for that part completely in my opinion. It´s just not the same kind of fear when you are lying in your bed, unsure if the monster in front of the window has seen you yet then when you stand in the middle of a crowd, uneasy if all those people in front of you will provide a shield thick enough to save your life. I personally find the second scenario not as effective as the first, but that is of course subjective. While it starts out strong, if very clichéd and it mellows down towards the middle, the ending is nice, with a legitimate eerie feel to it and a bit of an open end that still manages to conclude the story.

The characters are pretty one-note. Nothing more to say here, unfortunately. The most memorable one was the mother, but apart from that the story sticks rather firmly to narrating down what´s happening with little to no characterization and little to no background story. While I am not a fan of the "we explain evey little detail"-approach, knowing a bit more about the lore would have been nice. It felt more like they did not have enough pages to tell everything they wanted to (the story is not that long and can be read in a single volume) and not like they meant to leave things out. Still, there is a mythological feel to it and as if there IS a backstory and a greater world behind it. 

Altogether, the story is not bad, just not very special. It is not full of twists and new interpretations, instead it is rather conservative. It´s like bread, essentially. Nah, that´s too harsh. It´s like bread that´s a little special. Like potato-bread. And it´s a good foundation for the delicious layer that is the artwork, the atmosphere and the wolves.
The thousand incredibly pretty wolves.

Buy: If you like the art or just like wolves a lot and want a comparatively "soft" and classic horror story. 
Pass: If you don´t like wolves that much or want an innovative horror story.

A preview of "Night of a thousand wolves" can be read here: Night of a thousand Wolves preview
and it can be bought on amazon.com by IDW publishing as a paperback here: Buy Night of a thousand Wolves

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