It feels like Creator-owned comics from Rich Douek are like buses; you wait forever for one and then two come along in quick succession. After our previous look at Road of Bones, we now turn our attention to Wailing Blade #1, where Douek reunites with Scam artist Joe Mulvey to tell a tale of a battle to free a world from a tyrant and his loyal servant who wields the eponymous weapon. Will this title cut all others to ribbons or will the competition drown out its noise?
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Joe Mulvey (Art), Chris Sotomayor (Colours),
Price: £2.99 on Comixology
Set in a future built in the ruins of an old Earth, this new world finds itself under the despotic reign of the Tyrant of Minturn, who rules all through the murderous actions of his executioners. Chief among them is the Headtaker, a seemingly unstoppable force of nature who enacts his leaders will with the most infamous of all weapons; the Wailing Blade. However, when their leader is captured during a dangerous raid on a convoy, the Windcleavers, a bandit clan opposing the Tyrant, begin a mission which could see them come face to face with the Headtaker and maybe reach an end due to his fearsome weapon.
The first issue of Wailing Blade is a visually engaging title, with artist Joe Mulvey offering up a style very reminiscent of Rob Liefeld’s Heroes Reborn work (albeit with more polish …. and feet) or, more recently Chris Imber’s art in the Last Sheriff series. A prime example of this is seen in the Headtaker himself, whose exaggerated and larger than life appearance is strikingly similar to both’s known work, although the character visual aesthetic does give him a vibe of Thor crossed with FF7’s Cloud Strife.
Beyond the main character though, Mulvey makes the world of the Wailing Blade very striking, with Sotomayor providing some rich and vibrant colours which really stand out on every page. In fact, the only concern with the artwork comes early with the 9 panel fight page which is a little jarring as it is a struggle to completely follow what is going on.
The story, however, is a lot more of a mixed bag. Douek introduces us to truly fantastical world, as every inch of it from Minturn to Ordz gives off a vibe that it would be a perfect setting for some Warhammer back matter. Indeed, this is exacerbated by the tremendous sized sword, medievel-esque flying devices and unusual creatures, not to mention the streamlined steampunk like technological nature.
That said, while the world at large feels fully realised, the story feels somewhat lacklustre as it lacks any real direction for the series as a whole. Also, the characters do not feel that captivating, with only the Headtaker making any real impact, and even then he is less of a character and more a force of nature akin to the Punisher or Judge Dredd. Of course, both of these aspects will undoubtedly improve in the next issue, but here it makes it a struggle, saved only by the intriguing cliffhanger on the last page.
The Wailing Blade is an over the top, fantastical adventure story which, while offering us a loud, extravagant visual style in it’s look, has yet to fully reveal itself in terms of its story and characters. However, with a world so unique and hints of the intriguing series as the issue draws to a close, Wailing Blade may be a series worth checking out to see what happens when it is wielded to full effect/fully unsheathed.