Werewolves are almost never complicated in fantasy. With the exception of books written by Ilona Andrews, werewolves are very often one-dimensional. They are tough characters that follow some kind of pack rules and law and are usually either outright bad guys or paper-thin heroes. There is very rarely depth beyond certain cliches with these characters.

I gave up all hope until I met Rob Multari on my podcast. Rob’s a talented, amazing dude, and had this cool comic he managed to talk me into taking my money and check out his incredible Night Wolf series. And that is what I’m going to review today.

 

The Book

Night Wolf

Story and Letters by Rob Multari

Line Art – Oscar Choquecota Ale(Issue 1) and Carlos Herrara (Issue 1, 4 and 5) Bokuman Studio (Issue 2 and 3)

Colors by Ross A. Campbell and Carlos Herrara (issue 1), Bokuman (Issue 2), Cat Melvin (3 to 5)

Edited by Ryan Rotuna

Published by Lone Wolf Comics

 

Rodney Marcelli is the kind of guy that most high schoolers dream of. Football star, in love with the girl of his dreams. He almost seems like a walking American dream given life. It makes sense that issue one opens up with a Nightmare. Rob dreams of a werewolf devouring Jen, his girlfriend, and it transforms back into him. Terrified, he wakes up back to reality. His girlfriend is there, making sure he’s okay. Tasting the blood in his mouth that he remembered from the dream, Rodney heads to sleep. It turns out that Rodney was being targeted by shadowy looking mages trying to discern a wolf. They seem to be targetting Rodney for nefarious purposes.

The next day, Rodney is in high school. He’s liked, he’s popular, and things are pretty good. He’s saved from being hit on by two very lovely ladies by Jen, there’s a touch of drama, and life seems okay. This seems normal. Only the two girls are part of the same group as the shadowy mages, and the rest of the issue builds up the inevitable confrontation between these very evil people and Rod and Jen.

Issue two is the homecoming dance and everything just goes to hell. Rodney and Jen just barely manage to get ahead of the demons and monsters from what would be called the Dark Covenant, which are after Rodney and Jen. The rest of the people at the dance are either killed or turned.

Jen is eventually captured by a mysterious man. Rod tries to stop him but is outclassed. As he’s goaded and goaded, Rod eventually loses it and transforms at the end of issue two into a werewolf.

Issue three starts changing up things. Up to this point, Multari has played into expectations of what you’d expect in a typical urban fantasy, but here he starts changing it up. It turns out the man kidnapping Jen is another werewolf named Black Claw, who responds to Rod’s transformation by kicking the crap out of him and scaring him with silver. After soundly defeating Rod, Black Claw takes Jen away.

Rod wakes up in a hospital, evades some men in black, and heads back home, to discover that his parents had been turned into drones by the Dark Covenant. He was only saved by the arrival of a wolf in white skin. She helps him slay the drones, and is right there to comfort Rod when he realizes that he had to kill what were his friends and family. Snow Paw takes Rod away and starts to train him. Here the series adds layers and dimensions to the characters that go beyond the expectations of the genre.

Rod is some kind of half-breed wolf, with Dark Claw and Snow Paw representing darkness and light, with Rod being somewhere between them. Lord Malice, the vampire in charge of the dark covenant is trying to turn Jen into his love through illusions and mind control. He has a soft spot for her for some strange reason. Why is Black Claw following orders from Malice? Issues 4 and 5 explore the characters in the book and make them people. No one is entirely black and white, and in spite of the names, there is a touch of humanity to each character. So far, Night Wolf feels like an old-school comic book and would make an excellent urban fantasy.

Rob Multari tells a good yarn. He knows when to play into what you expect in the genre and play into it and out. Each issue is better than the last, and all of the characters in the series have likability, their own voices, and humanity. I appreciate the effort Rob made with this as separate voices are hard to do. My favorite character so far is Snow Paw. She steals every scene she’s in. Looking forward to her own series when it happens.

The art team is overall consistent. Carlos Herrara has become the illustrator that sets the tone with the series. While the other artists are good at their job, Herrara sets the tone. I love how he’s able to do monsters and human beings the same way. He’s able to do young and innocent and dark and malicious in the same issue and does a fantastic. Credit to everyone as well. Cat Melvin is a great colorist and sets the tone for the series perfectly, capturing the lighter moments and darker moments with a quiet intensity.

This is a solid werewolf urban fantasy that is increasing in complexity with each and every issue. It’s a fun read, violent and entertaining. What more could you ask for?

 

The Business

So many milestones. My podcast has broken 650 episodes. I want to thank each of you that has taken the time to listen over the years. I appreciate all of you.

I also want to thank First Comics News. I’ve been doing reviews for three years and I appreciate it. I’ve been able to read great books and speak my opinion to each of you. Thank you First Comics.

Finally, my next book, Alice Won is coming on Dec. 1st. You can read about it here.  Beyond that, it’s been an interesting time. Lots of things are happening in my freelance career. I hope to be able to keep doing these every two weeks. Until next time, be good to each other. I’ll be back to talk about another great book sooner than last time.

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Werewolves are almost never complicated in fantasy. With the exception of books written by Ilona Andrews, werewolves are very often one-dimensional. They are tough characters that follow some kind of pack rules and law and are usually either outright bad guys or paper-thin heroes. There is very rarely depth...