By Rich Tommaso
She Wolf is a new Image title that will take you on a walk through Gabby Catella’s shoes as she comes to terms with possibly being a werewolf. The story and art feel like an acid trip gone wrong, or maybe right (I am not sure how acid works to be honest). The book leaves you feeling paranoid and a little confused about what is real and what is imagined.
Everything is a little off in Rich Tommaso’s world of horror and suspense in this new book. His erratic art style combined with his frantic story pacing come together to form a unique creative footprint that is distinctive to Tommaso. He is known for his comics like Dark Corridor that delve more into the crime genre, but this book could put him into the mainstream comic landscape. She Wolf shows real potential to be a new young adult friendly/horror comic mash-up.
The story of a girl meets boy, boy becomes werewolf, then girl becomes werewolf because girl loves boy has been done before, and is the obvious pratfall for this comic. Since this is the first issue, there are a lot of questions and loose threads hanging around from our initial encounter with our heroine Gabby. She seemingly caused the death of a boy she cared for, who also happened to be a werewolf. During the scuffle, she was scratched and we all know what happened when a werewolf scratches you, right? Yes, obviously you become a werewolf too. Or maybe not, the story alludes to possible delusions or fantasies of Gabby being played out in interactions she has with her principal, her family, and also her priest. The werewolf symptoms could also be part of the delusions, but the context the book provide lends itself to speculation. Those alone made this issue a success from a story perspective because you want to keep reading the story.
Rich Tommaso’s art style is clearly an acquired taste. He uses exaggerated limb proportions, and a watercolor stylized color palette to really keep this story in the trippy spirit mentioned earlier. His werewolf is also a little less ferocious and a little more Fido than expected. These could be deliberate artistic choices he made to align himself with the story, exaggerate body features to allow people to seem more animal like and allow the scary figure to be more sympathetic. His art overall just lacked a certain amount of depth and detail to allow for a more accurate and relatable story to take place within the reader’s brain. Overall, this book could have benefited from a stronger art style either more aligned with a horror genre or a young adult genre, but as of right now it is kind of hanging right in the middle between the two, never fully satisfying either. There is too much nudity for it to be YA and not enough gore for it to be horror.
She Wolf is not your Grandfather’s comic book and that is a great thing. Reading a comic outside of your comfort zone is always fun to do, and wherever your comfort zone may lie, reading She Wolf will only add to your appreciation of the medium. A single man wrote, drew, colored, and laid out the entire book and it is a success for that feat alone, but then the book is fun too. The art style may be a little off-putting for some readers, but give it a chance and you will get to read a fun story that just may need a little time to find its voice.