Thursday, 3 March 2016

Wolf, Volume 1: Blood and Magic Review (Ales Kot, Matt Taylor)

Antoine Wolfe is a paranormal detective in Holly-weird, wOooOoooOOo! There’s an anti-christ character subtly called Anita Christ, vampires, werewolves, and Lovecraftian references galore and Wolfe’s gotta do something to somehow save the world from someone! 

Wolf is Ales Kot doing a hard boiled noir drama by way of the supernatural and it’s a birruva mess to say the least. Noir is a convoluted genre all by itself but when you’ve got an inexperienced and, frankly, not very good writer attempting it? Be prepared to be scratching your head and yawning most of the time as you try to understand what the writer’s getting at.

The Lovecraftian stuff is fun - there’s a character with tentacles for a mouth called Freddy Chtonic and a prison called Kadath Bay - but there’s a character who I think is supposed to be like an avatar of the Great Old Ones and I haaaated how he couldn’t pronounce his Rs. Reading his mangled speech was torture! 

The plot is all over the shop. I think the story is supposed to be about Wolfe protecting Anita Christ (that name) but he spends a silly amount of time quibbling over his buddy Freddy’s rent dispute with his landlord, a vampire called Azimuth. It seemed so pointless and distracting. 

Once you reach the last chapter of the book it’s like Kot realises he hasn’t built up any of the characters or done much in the way of plot development because suddenly everyone is giving these massive, rambling speeches attempting to fill in the blanks in the clunkiest way. 

Matt Taylor’s art is ok but nothing special. Simple lines, almost Jeff Lemire-esque in his figures, it’s not going to blow anyone away. Lee Loughridge’s colours are as bright and eye-catching as ever and do a lot to make the visuals stand out. 

I like the idea of a magical, hidden Los Angeles and a paranormal detective trying to do good underneath the surface of everyday life (ordinary people can’t see the supernatural), but Kot isn’t nearly talented enough at realising his ideas as he is at conceiving them. What was the plot supposed to be, who were the characters besides Wolfe and what were their motivations, what were the stakes - none of this was handled well. 

Wolf, Volume 1: Blood and Magic is a confused and unfocused comic that’ll bore readers long before the baffling finale. At 29 years old Kot’s still learning his craft and he might well write a great comic one of these days but Wolf is definitely not it.

Wolf, Volume 1: Blood and Magic

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