The Wolfmen – It’s Reservoir Wolves time
The Wolfmen Book 1
by Dave West and Andy Bloor
Published by Accent UK
I can’t take credit for the Reservoir Wolves line – that’s from Andy Diggle’s blurb on the back cover. But it’s so good that I had to use it. Because it’s really the obvious, immediate comparison to make. You’re all up to speed with everything the book is about now. The Wolfmen is book 1 of a werewolf crime drama from Accent UK, the company responsible for the excellent series of anthologies (Monsters, Zombies, Robots).
Andy Bloor’s stark, black and white linework does a good job of emphasising the brutality and violence of this horror crime story and he’s made great use of the darkness of the tale to illustrate the story with huge chunks of blacks and greys across the page, with white space at a minimum, used just to accent some detail or other through the panels. There are a few off moments where Bloor’s figures lose a bit of perspective and the anatomy goes a little stiff, but overall; very nice.
(Art (c) Andy Bloor, from The Wolfmen. Published Accent UK)
The story by Dave West is good, but lacks the final piece of greatness in both plot and dialogue that would make this a really good comic book. Some of this is down to the fact that this is just the first volume, so the story here is essentially the set-up portion of a longer story. It’s very fast moving, with a lot of action as one man becomes involved with a criminal gang who disguise their true identities behind wolf masks. Of course, as the brutality of their actions escalate, our hero realises he’s too far in to back out now and the real secret behind the gang’s true nature is revealed.
But of course, given the title and the blurbs and the whole tone of the book, you knew exactly what was coming from the very first time you saw the gang, if not before. This is the big problem that books like the Wolfmen have. They need a great hook to get you to read it, but in giving away the hook like this, the sense of surprise is also thrown away. I know there’s no other way to do it, but it disappoints all the same.
So despite a couple of quibbles, The Wolfmen is still good crime/horror fiction. It moves a little too quickly for it’s own good perhaps, and the plot seems rather sparse. But the art, with it’s confident handling of darkness within and without more than makes up for these problems. I’m not a great horror fan, so that may explain some of my lukewarm responses to it. However, I’ve heard back from a friend I showed it to, who IS a manic horror fan and he reckons it’s really good. So what do I know?
The Wolfmen is available from Accent UK at their website. Book 2: Fall Of The Wolfmen is plotted and scripted and should be out in 2009. Keep an eye on the Accent UK website for news of this and their annual anthology series.