Ceej Says… Wolf Country #5 review (Planet Jimbot)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Planet Jimbot
Writer: Jim Alexander
Artist: Will Pickering
Release Date: 5th March, 2016 (Dunfermline Comic Con)

The latest installment of Wolf Country – Planet Jimbot’s ongoing ‘Vampires-versus-Werewolves’ Western epic – sees the pace ease up ever so slightly as writer Jim Alexander checks in on Luke, “the Boy Who Killed Wolf”.   Once again, Alexander handles his exposition in as unobtrusive a manner as possible, filling us in on Luke’s situation and hinting at the role he is to play in the issues to come by having him appear in a dream to Carmichael’s wife Natasha.  In fact, Natasha provides the main narrative thrust of this issue as she weighs up the threat to the vampire settlement before finally confronting their brutal military ‘guests’ in the final pages.

We also get to venture into the heart of Wolf Country itself here, providing us with a drastically different insight into their lifestyle and culture than the disdainful perspective provided by the bulk of the characters we’ve met thus far.  As with all great conflicts, Alexander makes sure to remind us that everything isn’t black and white, with far more in the way of socioeconomic factors and subtle nuances than you would perhaps expect from a comic about what is essentially Werewolves fighting Vampires.

Artist Will Pickering continues his typically solid standard of work here with expressive characters aplenty, although the frequent lack of backgrounds gives the book a stark, unfinished quality at times.  The black and white style only adds to this, and while there are undoubtedly some stunningly impressive panels to be had here – the final three in particular spring to mind – a large portion of the book feels like the characters acting in front of a green-screen, waiting for the effects to be added in post-production. That said, given the bleakness of Alexander’s story, Pickering’s stripped-down style does feel oddly appropriate at times, and the expressiveness of his characters goes a long way towards helping Alexander’s storyline beats find their mark.

The sheer scale of the world-building on display here is truly impressive, with Alexander gradually revealing more and more information about this intriguing society packed with different class structures on both sides of the Vampire/Werewolf divide.  The main protagonists are strong, and watching their interconnected plot threads play out makes for a captivating experience.  With Wolf Country, Alexander has managed to inject a new lease of life into the fairly played-out “Vampires and Werewolves” genre, framing their conflict with aspects of religion, economics and social injustice, and making for an utterly gripping read in the process.  Highly recommended.

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Wolf County #5 will be launched at Dunfermline Comic Con on the 5th of March, with writer Jim Alexander in attendance.  If you can’t make it, the issue can be pre-ordered – along with the previous four – from the Planet Jimbot online store.

The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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