Writer: Stephen L. Antczak
Artist: Nick Marinkovich
Publisher: Devilís Due Publishing
I thought I was in trouble on the very first page of Nightwolf #1, as a Gavin Rossdale-looking pimp is telling one of his girls, ďListen whore, when I say be on the street by midnight, that means five Ďtil.Ē Who talks like this? I canít say Iím familiar with pimp-speak (though I do get down to Snoopís Doggystyle album), but this just doesnít sound like something a real person would say. I figured a pimp would use the ever-popular female dog reference when referring to a girl! So, I was preparing myself for the worst after reading this first page and glancing at the overall cheapness of Devilís Dueís presentation (I understand this is a black and white comic, but if youíre going to print an advertisement for a Transformers sculpture, you might want to show it in color. It looked really thrifty!). However, I was pleasantly surprised by the smooth (though spare and cliched) story and the terrific realistic art by Nick Marinkovich that was entirely appropriate for this comic. Yeah, itís not emotionally involving at all, and youíll feel like youíve either read or seen this before, but Nightwolf is a fine diversionary tale that may have some steam to sustain it for a while.
Stephen Antczak does do a good job of working the concept of "The Price" into every aspect of this first issue, displaying an unwavering focus on the central theme of this series. Davey Doyle (very similar to "Devilís Due"; Coincidence?), a werewolf who killed his parents and sister, is paying the price for his murderous past by taking out the unsavory elements of Quad City in his werewolf form. Specifically, he is aiming to take out those who cause others to suffer, and in issue #1 that element is represented by Carlos, the Bush frontman-turned-pimp who is employing underage girls as prostitutes. However, Doyle is also paying the price for assuming the role as Nightwolf, the enforcer. Heís losing his girlfriend Shannon, who is physically involved with their friend Kip. And Doyleís about to pay the price for accidentally killing a cop in this first issue. When Antczak sticks to the overall theme of the toll, we all pay for our actions, this story works pretty efficiently. But Antczak is prone to filling his tale with lifeless dialogue and cliched characters, which really dampened my enjoyment. Cops on the take and politicians obsessed with polls donít add any unique flavor to the proceedings, nor do banal give-and-take between Davey, Shannon, and Kip. What really stuck in my craw was the scene in the Mayorís office, where the Mayor is talking about Nightwolf with his press secretary and a cop who was a witness. First, it sounds like the Mayor doesnít believe in werewolves, much less that thereís one running around in his city. Then, his secretary brings up a public poll (How long was Davey out?), which should be humorous but comes off as kind of dumb when compared to the tone of the comic. As the Mayor is still reeling from learning that the boogeyman is real, the police officer says, ďMy cousinís a werewolf hunter.Ē Wha? This officer spouts this off as easily as if heís recommending a plumber to a co-worker! So, what does the Mayor do? He sends his secretary off to hire this werewolf hunter, who weíll probably see in future issues. This scene really didnít jive with the tone of the comic, and exposes some of the unevenness that keeps this story mediocre.
In contradiction to the mediocrity of the script, the artwork is very well done and appropriate for this redemptive horror yarn. Nick Marinkovich has a knack for the photo-realistic style (though he did recycle a bunch of panels) and making the most of the black-and-white format. The shading is moody and gritty, emanating a Gothic tone of modern dread that was very stylish. Could the characters have contained a little more emotion? Sure, as there were times when Antczakís dialogue and the body language/face drawn by Marinkovich donít add up (Check out the scene with Davey and Shannon near the end of the issue. Itís as awkward as Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts in The Mexican!). But, as a whole, Marinkovich captured a unique look for Nightwolf, one that is sure to appeal to fans of horror comics, especially those who prefer the atmospheric horror to the blood-and-guts variety.
In closing, this is a good comic if you donít mind hanging your brain up at the door. Nightwolf #1 is all about appearance, atmosphere, and attitude, which equals a fun and frivolous ride for those of you looking for a werewolf fix.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!