“Wolf Moon” Is Worth Howling About


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Holy shit — whoever thought cartooning would turn out to be one of the world’s most dangerous occupations?

The comics world is obviously in a state of shock and mourning — as is, indeed, much of the world in general — following the brutal murder of 12 employees of a well-regarded French satirical newspaper, four of whom were cartoonists, presumably by a handful of armed, masked Islamic fundamentalist extremists earlier today, and while now probably wouldn’t be the best time to comment on the wider cultural, as well as socio-political, implications of this shocking mass murder, let me just say that a climate of fear and ignorance is usually at the root of violent acts of intimidation like this, and that whatever Muslims you may know personally are more than likely to be just as horrified and appalled at today’s events as you are, if not moreso, because chances are they’ll be treated with an even greater level of undeserved suspicion than they already are. It’s probably no secret to those of you who read my posts even semi-regularly that I’m not a big fan of any religious belief system of any sort, but we didn’t go around treating Catholics like shit after IRA bombings in the UK and we should extend that same courtesy to Muslims here in the US, who had absolutely nothing to do with this insanely brutal crime.

I would also hope that it should go without saying that an act based in fear and ignorance shouldn’t be responded to with fear and ignorance, since all that does is up the ante, so let’s hope the French government doesn’t decide that the best way to deal with this is by, I dunno — invading countries that had nothing to do with it and torturing non-existent “information” out of impoverished goat herders and random street kids.

Really — no government would be that stupid, would they? Errrrrr—- wait a sec —

In any case, the good news is that the owner of the paper in Paris has said that he will not be intimidated by this act and that he’s going to continue publishing. That much we can all agree upon as being both courageous, and the right thing to do.

Still, the tone of discussion at my local comic shop was definitely somber today, and our thoughts go out to all affected by this tragedy. Fortunately, after a couple of depressing hours in front of the tube watching these events unfold, I was able to distract myself with my new pile of purchases today,  some of which were even — gasp! — good, the standout among them being the second issue of writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jeremy Haun’s new six-part horror series from Vertigo, Wolf Moon.

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Bunn, of course, has been a talent well worth keeping an eye on for some time, with The Sixth Gun from Oni Press and his recently-completed The Empty Man from Boom! Studios garnering extremely positive reviews — hell, folks even tell me that his work on Marvel’s ongoing Magneto monthly is pretty good stuff — while Haun, for his part, seems to be a guy whose work everyone likes a lot, but who hasn’t found a steady gig month-in-and-month-out since leaving DC’s Batwoman along with J.H. Williams III due to editorial short-sightedness of the highest order (it’s probably worth noting that the creators Williams and Haun were replaced with on Batwoman have driven the book down so far so fast that it was recently cancelled). Pair these two with veteran colorist Lee Loughride, then, and I think it’s fair to see that we’re looking at an “A-list” assemblage of talent here.

And hey — isn’t it about time that Vertigo got back to doing some honest-to-goodness horror comics, anyway? I mean, for a line that was built on titles like Swamp ThingHellblazer, and Sandman (which was widely considered to be a horror book before the term “dark fantasy” was in common parlance), they sure seem to have done their level best to avoid the genre in recent years.

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Fortunately for us all, that drought appears to be over, and Bunn and Haun are crafting a very tense and atmospheric werewolf-story-with-a-twist here — that twist being that the werewolf spirit passes on from one victim to the next rather than staying put in a single host the whole time. The second issue even expands on this theory as our protagonist/former werewolf host, Dillon Chase — who’s on something of a holy mission to stop the wolf spirit before it kills again —  gets in touch with a scholar on the subject (and former host himself) who posits a connection between lycanthropy and Native American “skin walker” legends.

The breezy scripting style Bunn employs and Haun’s tight, no-frills, character-focused art both have something of an “old school horror comic” feel to them, and you could just as easily imagine this book being drawn by the likes of, say, Tom Sutton, if he were still with us, or Bernie Wrightson, if his health were good enough, and while I don’t mean to say that our guy Jeremy’s work is “as good as” the legendary output of those two masters of the medium, it certainly works for this series despite the lack of intricate linework those just-mentioned names (along with others like Mike Ploog) almost always brought to the table.

In short, it’s suitably creepy and meshes well with an equally-creepy script. The covers so far have been top-notch, as well, with Jae Lee — whose work I usually actively dislike — capturing the look and feel of the act of werewolf transformation quite nicely with the main cover to issue one, Haun giving us something of a “drifter movie”-inspired variant for that issue, and Ryan Kelly doing great justice to both our protagonist and his migrating-werewolf adversary with his much-more-imaginatively-constructed-than-action-pose-images-usually-are cover for the second installment.

Honestly, I’m digging this book so much at this (admittedly early) juncture that my only gripe is the $3.99 cover price. Yeah, at least DC/Vertigo give you a high-gloss cover and a little bit better paper stock on their four dollar books than Marvel’s cheap-ass, melt-all-over-your-hands monthly product, but still — I’d sacrifice the spiffy package for a $2.99 price point on this title in a minute. “It costs too damn much” is a charge you can level at pretty much every comic coming out these days, though, so if that’s the only knock I can come up with against Wolf Moon, odds are that this is one book you should definitely check out.

One response to ““Wolf Moon” Is Worth Howling About

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