by Ales Kot, Matt Taylor, Lee Loughridge
Ales Kot’s new series, Wolf, certainly opened strong with its first issue. From Image Comics, the book introduced a number of interesting ideas and a few plot lines without spending too much time on a given subject or thread. Kot continues this approach in the second issue, raising intrigue while layering in a real sense of dread underneath the events that are unfolding.
One of the stranger elements of the first issue was its fourth-wall-breaking moment when it decided to jump from a climactic moment in a scene to a sequence taking place later that day. Kot chooses to acknowledge the jump, stating the book would return to that later. In the second issue, the book opens with that sequence it had left, finishing out the scene before, once again, returning to the sequence it jumped to at the end of issue #1. Here, the book even spends two pages to transition, once again acknowledging its own choices to jump around. The mixture of choices here that lend to this construction are strange, to be sure. Kot continues to leave information off the page throughout the issue, but there is a distinct tone that can be felt throughout.
Over the course of this issue, Wolfe can’t escape the feeling that there is something odd and connective about the events that are occurring around him. From the sequence taking place at the apartment with the vampires, to the girl who has come to visit, Wolfe is shaken by what is going on. Kot does a wonderful job in asserting a tone that will leave the reader feeling off kilter and uncomfortable. There is a lot that the book is not quite explaining, including the makeup of this world, what beings or powers exist, and just who the lead character is. Kot keeps readers in the dark, but the opaque approach to the world building does not keep readers from following Wolfe and progressing with the story. In fact, it is even possible that this story telling is part of what makes the ominous dread more infectious and affective.
Matt Taylor’s art, with Lee Loughridge on colors, also make a large impact on the experience of reading this story. Taylor’s art style is subtle and almost simple in how his characters and settings are crafted. The construction of the page and design of the characters never overwhelm or distract from the flow of the book. Instead, Taylor crafts a visual narrative that fits well with the narrative, understated in a way. This is furthered by the color work from Loughridge. The book shifts from glowing yellows to pale reds and deep blues. There is an emotional element and tone set by the art style of these two creators that work in concert with Kot’s script to make a unified reading experience that is certainly felt.
Still quite early in the script, there have been a number of interesting choices made by the creative team already. While there is a significant amount of the information that is rather unclear, the ability to craft the book in such a way that it still manages to have an impact on the reader is impressive. Wolf manages to be frustrating for what it withholds, while simultaneously engaging for the very same reasons. Ultimately, there is more than enough talent and intrigue to bring readers back for issue three.