She Wolf #1
Story and Art by Rich Tommaso
Review by John Dubrawa
I open a lot of comics without having the faintest clue what I’m getting into–a byproduct of largely not reading solicits and oftentimes literally judging a book by its cover–but let me tell you, She Wolf #1 from Rich Tommaso is, pardon the pun, a whole different animal. Even now, having read the thing from cover to cover, I struggle to come up with a way to describe it. Image Comics’ official solicitation for the book calls it, “a surreal exploration in horror” which might sound a bit generic but is probably the most apt description, though I would put an extra emphasis on surreal for sure. Readers tend to expect something different, something wholly unique whenever a new Image #1 issue hits the stands and She Wolf #1 checks all those boxes while creating a few more of its own. In fact if I hadn’t known this was an Image book before opening it up, I would have thought it to be an independently produced and published book, because it’s so atypical of the current comic market. You won’t find another comic like this one, not from any other major publisher that’s for sure.
Notice that I haven’t yet commented on the quality of She Wolf #1. While it’s hard enough to judge the merits of a comic series based only on its initial issue, that job becomes doubly difficult when dealing with something like She Wolf #1. It’s largely a setup issue meant to introduce us to our protagonist, Gabby, a high school student who has an unfortunate run-in with a werewolf and, as it goes in stories like these, gradually finds herself turning into one of the monsters herself. Beyond that premise there’s not much to She Wolf #1 in terms of story (or dialogue) per se, which makes it difficult to suss out where the series is headed. Not to mention that since Tommaso plunges his readers right in the action as it were, we never get a clear read on Gabby before the accident and therefore can never truly get the image of fully-fledged character. She’s more a bystander in this first issue than anything; there’s never a real sense that Gabby belonged to this world prior to being introduced on the page here.
Thankfully, where She Wolf #1 lacks narratively it goes above and beyond in terms of art. Tommaso’s stylistic flourishes will no doubt be divisive among mainstream comic readers looking for less fluidity in their visual narrative. His figures are unrealistic portrayals of the human body, elongated to the point where they nearly stretch out of their panels, if you can even say that Tommaso uses panels at all in the traditional sense. There’s a very dream-like quality to his art that is just impossible to describe except to say that it reminded me of a foreign animated feature film you’d find at your local art house cinema. His colors are just as bold and unique as well, particularly in the sequences in which our heroine begins to hear (and see) two alternate conversations coming out of the characters she’s interacting with. It’s trippy as hell, and it absolutely works for this book.
Check It Out. I want to give this a unanimous “buy!” just so people can experience something so outside the norm, but I recognize that She Wolf won’t be up everyone’s alley. It is also, a book very light on plot for a first issue and I came away from it having zero clue where it was headed. I don’t know if this is a mini series or an ongoing but maybe it’s something worth checking out in trade. At the very least, pick up the first issue, thumb through it, and take in a unique comic experience.