And Then Out Come The Wolves

Review by Shaun Daniels and Edited by Sharon Wong

Alabaster Wolves Issue 1 of 5

Written by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Art & Letters by Steve Lieber, Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, Cover by Greg Ruth, Variant Cover by Michael Avon Oemig and Published by Dark Horse Comics. Retail Price $3.50

Issue 1 of Alabaster Wolves is an opening to a mini-series that drops readers in the midst of a dark and dangerous world.  In this world populated by angels, demons and werewolves, young albino Dancy Flammarion is just trying to make an honest living.  Of course, if your idea of an honest living is killing werewolves while a patron angel looks on then look no further as this book is for you.  A few of the details of Flammarion’s world are a little foggy but there is enough intrigue to captivate the readers’ imaginations.

Flammarion finds herself in what looks to be an abandoned backwater town in the deep south.  Not too far behind is her patron angel, who is wherever Flammarion is and whom only she is able to see.  Rendered unlike any angelic figure in pop culture or what the masses believe to be an angel, the angel is somewhat horrific (but that depends on the reader’s views); it is about ten feet tall with numerous heads and a flaming sword.  Waiting for the bus, Flammarion meets a young lady, who is not what she appears to be.  A confrontation ensues and is settled by an old fashion riddle off.  If Flammarion wins, she is rewarded with personal belongings that were once taken from her and she gets to walk away untouched.  If the young lady wins, Flammarion offers up her life with no fight.  The riddle game ends with Flammarion losing but she does not offer up her life and that decision comes at a grave cost.

With Alabaster Wolves, you will find neither hand holding nor any spoon feeding of the plot.  The best way to enjoy the book is to simply experience it so sit back, read it and let the story unfold in front of your eyes.  Caitlin Kiernan weaves a tale about a young girl who makes a bad decision for the right reasons.  As for the world Flammarion inhabits, it’s unclear what it is like.  Is it post-apocalyptic or is this story happening between the lines with no one noticing?  Either way, it is less important to the overall story as the character and her motives propel the story.  Kiernan plays with an interesting concept with the angel; the vision is horrific and imposing but yet the angel is not seen by anyone but Flammarion.  It is also impotent to act in the real world.  Why is the angel so demonstrative in its reactions to Flammarion?  Is it unable or unwilling to help?  And why does it direct Flammarion to kill monsters instead of doing it itself?  These questions will hopefully be explored in issues to come.

Lieber also adds to the mystery of the book with his use of sparse backgrounds.  In several panels, he provides the reader with backgrounds that hint at the town the story starts off in, which has either been abandoned or forgotten.  From unkempt buildings to overgrown vegetation, there doesn’t appear to be much life in this backwater southern town.  In other panels, there are no backgrounds whatsoever.  Another interesting art choice is in the young lady who confronts Flammarion.  As the story progresses, the young woman’s true nature is shown slowly little by little in the art.  Rachelle Rosenberg adds her amazing color talents to the book by giving it a muddy and gritty feel, adding to the tone of the book.

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