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Monday, November 21, 2016

Wolf Country No. 6: Dust to Scripture. Jim Alexander (Writer), Will Pickering (Art), Jim Campbell (Letters), Liz Howarth (Editor). Planet Jimbot (2016)

A dense and deeply engaging issue that slows the action slightly to allow some room to look at the idea that is at the heart of the conflict and the series. At the settlement the vampires watch and wait as the victims of the last assault finally turn to dust and blow away into the depths of Wolf Country. In the city Halfpenny  consoles himself with scripture and rage against the ambiguity of the city. In the settlement, the soldiers leave to track down Luke, the vampire who now lives with wolves and Halfpenny finds  a conflict that suits him.
Jim Alexander has taken a severely thorny and contentious topic and handled it within the story context with assured confidence and deft writing skill. Matters of faith are explosive because they lie absolutely beyond argument, they is only acceptance or rejection. At the settlement the faith of the soldiers is a direct challenge to the faith of the settlers. They can  manage an uneasy truce because their ultimate aims are the same, the differences between them create room for savage actions. Mrs Halfpenny sacrifices to get the soldiers out of the settlement, they are a greater threat than the wolves. The wolves are clear external enemy, the soldiers are a subtle, unsettling internal enemy that can undermine the solidarity that the settlement requires to survive.
The same problem is facing Halfpenny in the city as he refreshes his faith in the true way in the face of the multiple ambiguities of the city. The stark conflict of the settlement sits well with his rigid faith, in the city there are unexpected challenges. Jim Alexander has written an issue that is dense with ideas which arise directly from the cast in the circumstances in which they find themselves. The action has slowed down, the story has not.
Will Pickering has a considerable task to deliver a mostly talking issue and make it engaging to read, he makes it look so easy that it is nearly possible to miss just how substantial an achievement this is. The cast are all well established so the depth of expression that they bring to their conversations has as much weight as the bursts of action that break out in the story. There is a 'debriefing' session that is just Halfpenny and a security officer, the flow of the conversation rests as much on their eloquent expressions and body language as it does on their words. When the tension is unsprung it is utterly satisfactory, the rage has been clearly building and finally has a target.
Jim Campbell's letters change as required without ever drawing attention, they are so easy to read that they blend into the context of the panels.
Wolf Country is continuing to develop in fascinating ways as detail and depth are added to the context and the cast are given more and more room to be themselves.
Chief Wizard Note:This is a review copy kindly sent by Jim Alexander, to purchase a copy of Wolf Country 6, which you should do for the life affirming pleasure that comes from reading great comics, you can get it here

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