June 12, 2012

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Night of 1000 Wolves #1

Written by Bobby Curnow
Illustrated by Dave Wachter
IDW

There's a legend in a sleepy valley about when the wolves gather and all humanity must tremble at their feet.  It's the babble of old men and only fit to scare children--except when the legend is all too real.  Read on as a family descends into a nightmare as they face...the Night of 1000 Wolves.

I've been a fan of Dave Wachter's art for quite some time now, so finding out that he was doing a limited series made me extremely excited.  He does awesome work at conventions with sketches and I also enjoy the original work I've seen from him.  In this series, all of the little touches that inhabit his sketches get a wider stage to breathe, and the results are spectacular.  Even if the story was mediocre (and it's not), I'd recommend reading this just for Wachter's art, which features rich details of the valley and forest, great pacing by strategic use of panels, and amazing emotional work for both the humans and wolves.  Every face, from the crazed father-in-law to the terrified children to even the bloodthirsty wolves themselves, has an expression that clearly shows their feelings, allowing Curnow to step out of the way in certain places and let Wachter's art speak for itself.

The results are simply amazing, as Wachter alternates from showing violence to keeping the worst images hidden from the reader, showing his absorption of the concepts of true horror that he learned from the classic movie monsters that he illustrates so well for fans at cons.  Wachter's sense of perspective and storytelling really blow away a lot of the mainstream superhero books that I read, making me wonder why those books can't look this good.

It's unusual for me to talk primarily about the art in a given comic, but since I'm more familiar with Wachter, I  wanted to start with what I knew best and what I thought was the strongest draw of the comic.  That is not to say that Curnow's script is not good.  I think he does a great job of pacing the story and showing just how the family gets into this mix.  The old man's warning is a bit of a trope, but it works here to set up the rest of the action and by the time we get to the final pages, a strong sense of desperation has been created.  The legend, as retold by the son, fits into the narrative and reminds me of the folklore of other cultures.  Best of all, however, is the intelligence of these wolves.  They are like demons here, and it makes for an awesome monster.

By the end of this issue, all hope looks lost for the family.  I cannot wait to see how Curnow and Watcher work to make their life worse by the end of issue two, which comes out tomorrow.  This is a great mini-series that is worth seeking out!