Wolf Country #2
By Jim Alexander and Will Pickering
Werewolves. Vampires. Wild West style…. that’s the pitch. It’s a good one, but there’s proving to be a lot more to Wolf Country than that.
The Vamps here live as a religious community surrounded by Werewolves, and this religious enclave is a completely separate community, isolated from the greater Vampire nation, something merely hinted at in issue 1, which I did enjoy as it took the concept and played with it neatly. But with issue 2 everything gets bigger, the scale, the story, the ideas, Alexander playing upon the differences, the wild west idea given a big twist,
This time out it’s slightly different artistically as well, the cutting edge stylised art from Luke Cooper (that I really do like I’ve now decided) swapped for Will Pickering, artist on the Martin Conaghan written Burke & Hare. Although having said that, Pickering’s artistic style has shifted since Burke & Hare, and again, the sharp, angular, black and white style is a fine look here.
For a classic idea of the way Alexander and Pickering are positioning Wolf Country, what ideas they’re putting forward, the style they’re evoking, the mixing and matching of religion, politics, social stuff, all wrapped up in a very neatly done small scale thriller, take a look at a couple of images from the first few pages…
There’s the old Vamp order’s leader, Halfpenny, whose dress and transport are almost Amish-like in their simplicity. Okay, the werewolf caged on the back and the pack of wolves in hot pursuit takes it away from the Amish idea, but you get the idea?
The chase ends rather abruptly, the werewolf pack following, stopped in their tracks… a relieved Vamp pulling up, suddenly safe.
Well, the Chinook sitting in front of him, plus the electric fencing going up behind him… that would help a lot.
Old, new, old, new. Amish Vampires cut off from the main population, a main population that visits every so often.
Except there’s a lot more to it than that… Halfpenny is summoned by ‘the High Executor’ himself, concerned over the presumed disappearance of young Luke, the ‘boy who killed wolf’, who we last saw go out on patrol and not come back. I was rather expecting an answer to that particular quandary this issue, but no, instead Alexander transplants ‘Amish-Vamp’ leader straight into the heart of the Vampire capital, the veritable beating heart of Vamp society. And in his place, three tooled up, pissed off, decidedly nasty Vamp soldiers parachute into the ‘Amish-Vamp’ community.
The positioning of this small community as something almost cult-like, respected at some levels, but with a sense of an increasingly tenuous link to Vampire society at large, that’s really well done by Alexander in a few short, pretty dense pages. It makes for an intriguing issue that goes far from what I imagined we’d be reading at this stage. Likewise, the questions we’re posed as we see the Vamp capital; what is the importance of the new mission for Halfpenny? why are their troops on the group inside the religious order’s compound? just how important are the old ways to modern Vamp life? and just what did happen to ‘the boy who killed wolf’?
It’s turning into something rather fascinating is Wolf Country, Alexander on good form, stylishly drawn by Pickering. You can get hold of your copy by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org for details.