Reviews: Wolf Country
Wolf Country #1
By Jim Alexander and Luke Cooper
First came across Wolf Country in Amongst The Stars anthology:
“‘Wolf Country‘ by Jim Alexander and Luke Cooper, who also provides the cover for issue 3. It’s an interesting concept, of religious enclaves isolated from the rest of the world and faced with werewolf attacks…. but there’s only 10-pages to go from high concept to conclusion, so it’s over before it’s really begun. Nice enough, but again…. not enough. The art either really impresses me with the starkness of the images or really bores me with the blandness of the same… to be honest I can’t decide and keep flip-flopping between the two.”
A second and third chance to see what I thought of Luke Cooper’s artwork came along with Good Cop, Bad Cop #1, and a 6-pager in Amazing and Fantastic Tales #1. And I came down on the side of liking it; sharp, minimalist backdrops, nice expressions and movement, not perfect in any way but good stuff. And so it is with Wolf Country the series proper; the sparse stuff works, the minimal effects are still there, but there’s still something missing at times, anatomy and movement not coming off as well as it might. But better all the time.
So, what about the first issue of Wolf Country proper then? Well, I avoided mentioning it in the first review, but seeing as it’s right there on the inside front cover intro of this issue I reckon I’m perfectly safe to give you the full high-concept idea: This is werewolves versus vampires, Wild West style; the Vampires living as a religious community surrounded by Werewolves who are trying to wipe them out.
Here in issue 1 we’re following young emo-vamp Luke, a new recruit to the community, who finds himself out on a 2-man scouting patrol barely two hours since arriving. It hasn’t gone well, the horses are gone and the wolves are circling….
Things only get worse, stories are exchanged in a moment of quiet, his companion turns out to be part of ‘one of the families’, vamps with different qualities perhaps, no doubt we’ll find out later. We discover Luke gained instant celebrity by killing a wolf as a youngster, but being turned into something akin to a vamp messiah soon gets tired, and decides a life in the settlement is a good escape.
And whilst the tales are told the wolves get closer, a choice is made, Luke’s reasons for coming out here seem not so straightforward.
Carmichael returns alone….
If it were just a simple vamps versus wolves tale as I initially thought with that first story, it may well have outstayed it’s welcome, and accusations of being a little too Underworld without the leathers might come in.
But thankfully Alexander has taken things a step further. That first introduction to the ideas and concepts worked because it was a nice story told well, and the twist of the put-upon community under Werewolf threat worked well. Here we get a little deeper into the situation, and it’s not just a single Vampire community, it’s a nation, and the settlement deep in Wolf Country isn’t through necessity, it’s through faith, the settlement part of the teachings of a Vampire god. So it’s part cold war Berlin, part Crusade era Jerusalem, and the mixing of historical and modern politics with the high fantasy gives it a nice spin that takes my interest well beyond the initial twist.
And then there’s the ending, the what happens after Carmichael returns home alone. I just don’t know whether it works or not, and I wont truly know until I see next issue. So in addition to the high concept, in addition to the political overtones and wondering how the world has ended up this way, how the Vampire society works, we get personal intrigue, and the question of just what Luke is up to lingers as we end the issue.
As an opener, Wolf County does a lot of things really, really well. Luke Cooper’s art gets better, and the story that seemed simplistic first time out gets added, interesting complexity. You can get hold of your copy by contacting email@example.com for details.