by Ales Kot, Matt Taylor, Lee Loughridge, Clayton Cowles
Ales Kot has created some of the more unique stories in comics in recent years. With Zero having just wrapped, Kot presents a brand new story here. Out through Image Comics, Wolf #1 presents a rather interesting story of a man named Antoine Wolfe. With the help of talented artists Matt Taylor, Lee Loughridge and Clayton Cowles, this new series opens strong and offers a tale that really stands apart.
The first pages of a book are as important as the cover of a story. In a visual medium, presenting some memorable imagery early will likely grab more readers, pulling them into the new universe that has been created. Wolf #1 has done just that. Ales Kot’s stories tend to begin in such a way that readers are thrust into something already in progress. The first moments of Wolf find a man wandering outside of Los Angeles, wearing a straight jacket, and singing. Oh, and he is also on fire, completed engulfed in flames. Taylor and Loughridge, in these first three pages, put forth a sequence of panels that are unsettling and simultaneously gripping and enticing. It will be hard for most readers to see the beginning of Wolf #1 and not want to stick around.
Kot uses a very natural and, at times, ambiguous approach to his world building. The characters in the book interact with each other with disregard for the audience. In the early pages, terms are dropped and phrases are mentioned that may indicate that the world that exists in Wolf, while seemingly similar to the real world, has elements that set it apart. Mr. Wolf is not a regular human. In fact, there seems to be a decent number of individuals in this world who are also not human. Kot, though, avoids spoon-feeding the audience. Instead, he simply implies and depicts certain things to tease out the world building. As a result, Wolf #1 requires some extra attention; some active participation. There is a good amount that is not being said over the course of this oversized first issue. For every piece readers are provided, there is a lot more that remains opaque.
The approach to storytelling in Wolf is rewarding. There is a lot on display in just this first issue and this new universe is incredibly rich. Mr. Wolf, a man with certain talents, is being treated pretty terribly by mankind. Think X-Men, in a way that the people with powers could overpower mankind, but they still function as second class citizens. It’s not clear just what types of powers people have or how prevalent they are in the population. What is clear is that they have little freedom and their additional abilities are not appreciated. The art team are impressive in their ability to convey an intriguing mood throughout the story. Sequences without dialogue, shifting hues in the color palette by Loughridge, and some startling imagery all make for a very memorable opening.
Wolf #1 presents an original story that places people with abilities in the modern day. It’s a detective story, in a way, and the lead character is as unlikely a lead as possible. But that fits the tone of the book; placing squid-faced men, vampires, and murder all within the same first issue. Antoine Wolfe’s reputation precedes him, and it remains to be seen why that is. Either way, Kot’s new story and lead feel fresh and enigmatic. It’s not all that clear just what lies ahead or what is intended with this new universe, but the impressions of the first chapter are very good. Matt Taylor’s artwork, paired with the wonderful colors by Lee Loughridge come together to provide absolutely wonderful visuals. The craft of these two artists lend a more subtle approach to the presentation. While a few panels do jump out, the overall visual landscape of Wolf manages to be effective through mood, pacing, and design. The oversized first issue gives readers plenty to chew on and a lot to look forward to next month.