Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Wolf Country 5. Jim Alexander (Writer), Will Pickering (Art), Jim Campbell (Letters), Liz Howarth (Editor), Luke Cooper (Cover Art). Planet Jimbot (2016)

A confident and very engaging aftermath issue that manages a very difficult story problem with flair and wit. The vampire settlement is in trouble, the soldiers are torturing Carmichael and the vampire settlers are starving. Natasha, wife of the settlement leader Halfpenny has a physic encounter with Luke, the vampire who has fled to the werewolves. She considers what to do next and makes a decision. In the city Halfpenny finds that trouble is simply getting deeper and Luke finds that life among the werewolves is sweet and very dangerous.
This is a very dense issue, packed with information and establishing the new status quo after the events in the city and the big assault on the settlement. This can be a very difficult story problem to solve, the momentum of the story slows abruptly from the big set pieces and it can be a bit anti-climatic for the reader. Jim Alexander manages the process very nicely by mixing updates with new information and tying them very smartly together to provide a start for the next wave of events. The new information is the reappearance of Luke, the vampire who fled to the wolves, his situation is used to provide information about the werewolves. This gives a necessary balance to the story as they have been seen only from the vampires point of view up to now. The second piece of new information is about what can kill a vampire, this is tied directly to the deaths in the city and the slow starvation being suffered by the settlers.
Both of these pieces of new information add to the increasingly tense and dangerous context for the settlers and Halfpenny in the city, the circumstances are steadily getting worse. The most enjoyable and engaging aspect to this issue is the emergence of Natasha as the de facto leader of the settlers. As fanatical as her husband, Natasha is much more suited to the complex circumstances that have arisen. She is resilient and thoughtful, she sees the complex situation much more clearly than Halfpenny and acts as decisively as he does when she needs to. Jim Alexander has written a entirely credible female character who is just herself, fantastic.
Will Pickering's art has an equally heavy load to lift and does so with ease and wonderful attention to detail. The action is relatively subdued, mostly talking and it has to be delivered without loosing the reader. the way that the panels are used to vary the story pace and the beautiful body language of the cast is astonishing. They draw in the reader to the information and allow the density of the information to be spread carefully so it never feels crowded. A apparently simple sequence where Natasha is having a conversation with some other female settlers is a masterclass in how to make a static setting spring to life. The sequence moves the point-of-view smoothly and each panel is used to great effect. This sequence is where Natasha really starts to come into her own and it is smart work that it is a conversation that provides the opportunity for her to do so.
Jim Campbell's letters continue to subtly and persuasively support the story, the are so easy to read that they slip by, they work with the art to sound just right.
Serial storytelling is tricky, in particular where the events are quiet and a lot of information is presented. This issue is an outstanding example of how showing and telling can support each other to deliver a combination that is truly more than the sum of its parts.
Chief Wizard note: This is a review issue very kindly sent by Jim Alexander at Planet Jimbot. Wolf Country 5 will be launched at Dunfermline Comic Con on Saturday 5th March 2016 To purchase Wolf Country (you can order all five issues at a keen price for the set), and you should, this is an outstanding comic that has a stunning story idea backed by astonishing execution, go to

No comments:

Post a Comment