The Wolf and The Crow Begins
Premiere issues. They’re hard to pull off. In the space of twenty-something pages, the staff behind it has to create a universe right before your very eyes and make you feel invested in it. In one measly issue, a comic book needs to present an IP you have never heard of, set up a story where something will eventually happen, establish the rules of the universe to create expectations, and introduce a cast of characters you are supposed to love at first sight. All of that while looking amazing.
This is a hefty goal even so-called pros struggle with on a daily basis. Worse still, a remarkable first issue is a requirement for newbies in order to transition into the rank of “published authors”.
As such, by sheer definition, the very first issue of a brand-new comic book series doesn’t really have that much space to shine through, especially if the writer subscribes to any tried and true story-structure formulas. In fact, if we’re using Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey as our template – and why wouldn’t we seeing how it is one of the most profitable structures to trace over – the very first stage of the journey is called “Ordinary World”.
This means the opening pages/minutes of your story have to be invested in showing how everyday life works for these here people in order for the fantastical elements later on to feel that much more magical. Lots of people living life as they would regularly do, having no real issues other than miniature aggressions against their egos. Thrilling.
In The Wolf And The Crow #1, our “Ordinary World” is “thousands of years ago, a tribe of hunter-gatherers that go by the name of Lotari roam the lands, hunting and gathering, due to the human condition known as hunger”. This, in itself, is not something that makes many people jump out of elation in order to buy the book. It’s an interesting idea, to say the least, but we’ve seen it time and time before. I mean, the hunger aspect is one rarely touched upon as Ordinary Worlds go, but other than that it sounds like The Croods but for grown-ups.
Is This Hunt For You?
So, what’s special about this one? Is it the old leader of the tribe grappling with his old age? Is it the fact that the younger members of the clan believe they are better equipped to deal with the needs of the tribe since they aren’t neck deep in ‘the old ways’? What about the female character that has to put on a tough exterior and give it her all in order to make it clear that the shes are as good – if not better – than the hes? Or is it the young kid who wants to be a hunter before they reach adulthood because staying put instead of killing things is boring?
I mean, they’re called tropes for a reason. Just by reading these lines you’ve already conjured dozens of films, TV shows, novels, video games and comics that have these particular tropes in it.
The story in The Wolf And The Crow is serviceable in this one, planting plot threads and details that will blossom into what I can only expect will become thrilling arcs, but, as it is, this is 28 pages of tons of foreshadowing. Good foreshadowing, mind you, knitted by a skilled storyteller, but foreshadowing nonetheless. It’s only when you reach the final stretch of the issue, what with an ancient twist on Eliza Thornberry and the old “This was a political thriller all along” switcheroo that things start to gear up into “you know, I might want to buy the next issue” territory.
But, as it stands, why would you, then, need to rush and buy this one issue instead of waiting for the inevitable Volume 1 that will actually showcase the threads being resolved or explored deeper within the same book? The art, dear reader. The art.
Despite his DeviantArt profile stating he’s being working for 9+ years as a narrative artist and a Facebook page that’s about to hit 1000 likes, I have never heard of Ismael Hernandez before. And yet, as I glanced upon the first splash page of his in The Wolf And The Crow #1 I fell in love with what he does with his hands – art wise, of course.
I never knew how bored I was of the sort of digital coloring so many people are paid to do on commercial comic books until I saw Hernandez’s watercolors. Now this is a feast for the eyes. The actual way he draws people is something that you can like or dislike depending entirely on your artistic tastes. His character designs can be described as rough by some folk, but the way this guy uses watercolors to achieve his character’s weight and movement is something to be admired. If they are a digital effect or the real deal is of no importance – it’s the finished product that made me go all The Emperor’s New Groove’s Pacha on it. Exquisite.
It’s this decision, to avoid Marvelesque coloring that makes the trope-filled mythology of The Wolf And The Crow to become so much more important than it would be sans images. As a novel, this first chapter would’ve been good, enjoyable, but not much more than that. As a graphic novel, this is a world you want to be invested in, a universe that urges you to drown in it, a promise of an epic tale yet to come that’s hidden amongst brush strokes of the watery kind.
If you buy something from a Soda and Telepaths link, we may earn a commission. This is used to help maintain the site and create more content for you!