Filed under: Avatar Press, Comic Reviews | Tags: David Lapham, Gabriel Andrade, Mature, Werewolf
Small town werewolf attacks seem to go together like Christmas and Santa but you won’t find any of the glossy, mainstream Twilight-esque werewolves here. We’ve got full on gore, body-parts, sex and violence in a David Lapham penned tale. Lapham has become a favourite of mine through his work on Damaged (a 2011 highlight for me) and the more recent The Strain with Dark Horse publishing so it was pretty much inevitable that I’d pick this up while I track down some of his previous offerings.
One difference with this Avatar release is that it’s a Mature title in the purest sense, the gore and violence is quite visceral and the opening scene is probably the least likely to disturb. A solitary severed hand still holding a coffee cup in the cramped and bloodied trailer of an ex-member of the Minnesota community – dropping from 482 to 481 as declared in our first page.
Just like his other titles, Lapham seems to be able to drop us in the middle of things and we almost feel like part of the community we’re reading about…..the barroom where we probably have a drink/fight on a Friday night through to the fact everyone knows everyone…..or even through to seeing my breath on the snow-covered hills around the town.
From here, Lapham quickly surrounds us with everyday characters, a sheriff, the victim’s ex-wife, a mysterious stranger in a red dress and the other local inhabitants. Developing the sheriff, Dale, as our main character throughout; bringing the complicated relationships and secrets that a small-town can mix us up in, to our attention. A couple of sex-scenes later – one violent bathroom clinch with the mysterious stranger and another with the 1st victims ex-wife makes this all more complex than the number of pages would have suggested.
We close out the issue with an early morning attack by our werewolf….dragging the ex-wife from her home and tearing her limbs from her body as Dale sleeps off the night before in her bed……and her kids doze ahead of there never to be fulfilled breakfast. Dale is attacked in the process and our viscous and as-yet-to-be-identified attacker flees from the scene as some of the other locals grab a glimpse.
Backed up by strong art from Gabriel Andrade – where it feels like every panel is filled with some sort of detail. Small-town, snow-covered backgrounds could have been an easy thing to pull off but there’s much more detail added in the panels here, giving the feeling of much more commitment to the story as a whole….and immersing the reader in this no-doubt doomed town. Although the fact we’re immersed in this so well in the time it takes to read issue one….suggests I’ll be watching my back for werewolves in and around my house/work.
This already sets the bar quite high for issue #2…..but Laphams writing has such a draw that even the level of violence that splatters across the pages can’t ebb away any of the intrigue brewed up by the characterisation or the art on show. Disturbing, YES and definitely a Mature title as mentioned before…..but if anything….that’s the magic of the freedom that can be allowed on a comic book…..a freedom that lets the reader decide what’s really acceptable…..and lets face it, that’s always going to be down to personal preference.
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