Wolverton – Thief of Impossible Objects is a loving throwback to the days of pithy one liners and plucky adventurers overcoming adversity through quick wits, and occasionally quicker fists. The titular gentleman thief falling afoul of a variety of secret sects and scoundrels in the pursuit of a number of impossible objects, beginning with a shrivelled Monkey’s Paw.
Publisher: Wolverton Comic Book
Writer: Michael Stark & Terrell T Garrett
Artist: Derek Rodenbeck
Price: From Comic Website – $3.75 digital / $4 Print
The opening issue of this promising series quickly introduces Jack Wolverton, a cunning and skilful, though no means infallible, cat burglar as he attempts to liberate an artefact from a ship’s safe. It becomes quickly apparent that things aren’t going to go to plan, beginning a frantic and daring escape which immediately serves to illustrate the story’s writers Stark and Garrett’s cited inspirations of Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean as wholly accurate parallels to draw as the actions that follow could quite happily find a home in either series. Self-identified comparisons aside Wolverton also delivers a strong classic pulp vibe, at least thematically, recalling swashbuckling adventures you’d expect to see the Phantom or similar classic heroes undertaking.
The language chosen to deliver the story fits nicely within the narrative timeline and builds a light-hearted feel to the adventure regardless of the life and death stakes involved. Jack Wolverton’s voice in particular is an especially charming caricature of early 20th century banter again ringing true with the authors citing Sherlock Holmes as an influence. This all forms the strength and appeal of a quickly likeable lead character whose commentary adds levity to what could otherwise be wordless action scenes. Reading along it’s easy to imagine the lines of the gentleman thief being delivered in the tones of Cary Grant or similar, the assaults of both natural and supernatural assailants causing little more than mild ire.
Following this initial adventure introducing the hero, his quest and allies, the second half of the issue takes a darker approach introducing us to those on the other side of the battle lines and indicating that it’s not only Wolverton seeking to obtain these impossible artefacts. This all serves to build up nicely towards the next adventure which promises to raise the threat and stakes significantly.
Visually, Derek Rodenbeck has very neatly captured the period aesthetic and complementary hints of Kevin O’Neill’s work on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which, combined with the writing effectively transports the reader to the time period of the story without the need for a date to be given. Action is also delivered dynamically with some excellent use of panel in panel work to show some small, specific actions which allows a great deal to happen in single pages keeping the pace of these scenes satisfyingly rapid.
Throughout the issue captions boxes also serve as an unseen narrator, providing character exposition and occasionally clarifying actions which have taken place between panels, while for the most part effective, supporting a fast-paced story, there are some examples, towards the end of the issue in particular that could have been cut, giving the art work and dialogue which already conveys events clearly a little more room on the page to breathe, this is very much in the minority of cases however and overall the use of the caption narrator adds greatly to the world building of the story.
Overall an engaging and enjoyable opening issue with no shortage of charisma, action and intrigue. Hopefully the first of many outings of the gentleman thief Jack Wolverton.