Review: Wolf #9

wolf_09-1A lot can happen in five years. Look no further than Ales Kot’s Wolf, which has followed main characters Anita Christ and Antoine Wolfe through the (almost) apocalypse and then some.

To recap the most recent arc: After Wolfe drags an abandoned twelve-year-old into the desert and uses her grandmother’s ghost and newly discovered werewolf powers to kind-of prevent impending doom, he disappears for five years. In the meantime, Anita is raised by the be-tentacled Freddie and vampiric Isobel but keeps up a private search for Wolfe. When readers are reintroduced to Anita at age seventeen-almost-eighteen, she, Freddie, and Isobel have become a tight-knit family. The action strikes up once more as Duane Wolfe, Antoine’s brother, joins the group and they pick up the mysterious and tormented Renfield before setting out to rescue Wolfe. Meanwhile, Wolfe undergoes constant torture in prison.

Wolf #9 picks up right where #8 left off, smack-dab in the middle of a fight between Anita and company and the monsters that stand between them and Wolfe. This is the last issue of the arc, which lends an extra seriousness to the events that unfold. Heidi, no longer banished to Hell, is bent on raising Sterling Gibson from the grave.

In typical Ales Kot fashion, the latest installment of Wolf raises as many questions as it answers. The action pauses for reflection on what could possibly come next for the main characters and because of this, Wolf #9 feels like an ending more than anything else. While the surface plot is at times confusing, Kot does a good job at pulling threads through from previous issues. One particular issue that will help readers understand what’s going on is Wolf #3, which brings each character’s role and their parallels to religious figures into greater focus. With the concept of Anita as a Jesus figure in mind, her path to Wolfe could potentially have a deadly outcome. Anita telling Freddie and her grandmother early in the series that “Women bleed; it’s our fate,” is a bleak reminder that she has always been slated for death, and Wolf #9 is ambiguous about her fate.

The art is the same strong work Ricardo López Ortiz and Lee Loughridge have been putting out since the beginning of the arc. Ortiz’s art isn’t particularly realistic, but it’s perfect for the story and transitioned well from Matt Taylor’s art in the first arc. Ortiz’s style is free and sketchy, something that allows characters to convey a lot of movement and expression. This particularly suits Anita, who is a very outspoken and expressive main character.

Loughridge’s coloring takes the story from dark to light and back again. The fighting is a decidedly red-tinged palette. Antoine and Heidi are a cool blue that has been consistent with Sterling Gibson throughout the series, which hints that Gibson has left more than Anita behind. As the story progresses, Anita also adopts the same blue coloring, which is less than promising in terms of her well-being. Both the art and coloring work well to keep up the frenetic pace of the comic, and set the mood for the end of the “Apocalypse soon” arc.

Between the art and Ales Kot’s exploration of myth and biting social commentary, Wolf is well deserving of a read, but it’s not one to be read lightly. The most recent issues have also featured short comics selected by Kot that introduce new writers and artists. It’s a wonderful way to get new and diverse talent out there, and a kind way for Kot to pay it forward. Wolf #9 features work by Minhal Baig and Richard Lyons that reflects on the traumas and grief of Islamophobia in post-9/11 America, and if you needed another reason to pick up Wolf, Baig and Lyons’s mini comic is it.

Story: Ales Kot Art: Ricardo López Ortiz Colors: Lee Loughridge
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.