Image’s Wolf #1 sees new superstar writer Ales Kot and hot artist Matt Taylor conjure up a mix of supernatural horror and classic crime noir in the City of Angels. But will this lupine lead character make this new series spookily good or will an exorcism be needed?
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Matt Taylor (Pencils), Lee Roughridge (Colours), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
Price: £3.99/$4.99 from ComiXology
Wolf #1 introduces us to Antoine Wolfe, a Los Angeles Private investigator in the spirit of Marlowe and Spade. However, unlike them Wolfe is a little different in that he investigates both human problems and supernatural, both of which he survives thanks to a case of immortality. But Wolfe’s new case has the best (or maybe worst) of both worlds as he begins a job for a very shady character, a job which may actually grant him the death he’s been longing for, but then he meets a very unusual girl….
Ales Kot delivers the opening of a story which feels very much bathed in the essence of noir fiction. The plot, which feels in some way similar to old school TV serials such as Magnum P.I. or The Equaliser, has created a book full of interesting characters who all embody different aspects of hardboiled detective novels, in particular his protagonist who has a lot of wit and attitude but still comes over as very likeable. What’s great about this book though is how seamlessly the horror and supernatural aspects are woven into this otherwise crime fiction book, never looking out of place.
This is helped by the art, as Matt Taylor and Lee Roughridge go light for much of the issue with the pencils and colours, making L.A. in the day a very hot and dirty place, which seems appropriate given all the references to ‘hell’ which appear, not to mention the implied undertone of the story. Of course, when day becomes night, Taylor and Roughbridge change things up and give us fittingly dark and creepy imagery. Between those two tones, they help the book feel equal parts normal and supernatural.
However, the one problem Wolf suffers from is that there is little to no explanation of plot, either in terms of where it is going or how it got to this point. While mentions are made of characters objectives, there is no clarification, making it difficult to understand why everything is happening, making the book a little hard to follow. While this is very much a Noir trope, it may be a problem when enticing readers back, although the intriguing cliffhanger at the end may remedy that a little.