By Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky,
It is a really weird contrast when a comic can make gore look beautiful, but that is what Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky are doing with Image’s new series, Coyotes. There’s not a ton of gore, but if coyotes ripping out eyeballs doesn’t send you running to vomit, then this might be the comic for you. This premiere issue is the meeting of our two main characters, Analia and Frank. Analia, a.k.a. Red, is a badass coyote-killing little girl. Frank is a goody two shoes cop who gets transferred to Analia’s city. Analia and Frank’s sordid past is splashed before the pages, giving more context to their meeting in the interrogation room. Analia comes from a place of pain, having lost her family, but has toughened up thanks to some new friends she has made. Frank is just trying to figure out what is going on in this city known as the “City of Lost Girls”.
This book has a lot of promise, with an intriguing story and really captivating art that sets this book apart from the rest. The characters are well fleshed out over the course of the first issue and there’s a lot of compelling material to keep readers coming back issue after issue. The story from Lewis might at first seem trite, like okay for real who is really afraid of coyotes??, but the art from Yarsky brings the fear. The first story, which shows the meeting of Frank and Analia and then dives into Analia’s past, is done with vibrancy from colors and intense action sequences. Then, when the book dives into the past of Frank, a noir black and white theme takes over. This distinction of each story is set firmly with the shifting art style, and it totally sets the mood and tone.
The story from Lewis is highly reflective of the region where the story takes place, in an undisclosed location nicknamed “The City of Lost Girls”. We can assume it is somewhere near the Mexican border because there is a lot of español being thrown around and maybe that enhances the experience for some readers, assuming many bilingual readers are in his target audience, but it does ostracize others. Ok, that is one issue with featuring another language in your book, but it also feels inauthentic. This just comes from someone who is bilingual and knows and understand Spanish beyond a “Donde esta la biblioteca?” stage, it doesn’t feel real. There is a super important panel where someone is being killed by the coyotes and the Spanish phrases he uses do not feel authentic or plausible. Honestly, if you are being mauled to death by coyotes are you really going to go “This hurts, kill me!”? In a moment that was set up to make us feel so much, it can leave you feeling totally let down if you translate the Spanish.
The book’s saving grace really comes from this complex characters Lewis is creating, with so much backstory and so many details there is a lot to learn about Analia, Frank, the coyotes, Analia’s sidekick, Eyepatch, and many more. These well thought-out characters are brought to life from the talents of Yarsky in the most beautiful way. Yes, there may be some uncomfortable panels, like seeing coyotes kill lots of people, but the book has heart and the potential to tell a new story amidst a sea of sameness.