The idea of Werewolves vs. Vampires isn’t a new one, so if you’re going to do it you have to make it interesting. Wolf Country takes this concept and not only adds its own spin, but owns the genre in doing so. The first thing that it does is remain subtle. It never really says vampires or werewolves, most of the time it’s just implied or spoken about as if everyone in the room already knows. This is a great tactic because it makes you want them to say it even more. The first issue follows a boy named Luke who is ditching school. He’s harassed by a random dude about why he’s not in school which is weird. It’s honestly the weakest part of both issues, but it puts Luke in the right place at the right time. A werewolf or just “wolf” as everyone calls them appears in front of Luke and the story suddenly cuts away.
Three years in the future we find Luke and Carmichael out in the open shooting at a wolf. It looks like a regular wolf, but it is in fact a man in wolf form. They begin to run since they were caught in the open and don’t want the pack to circle around them. Luke unfortunately gets his foot caught in a hole and falls into a small cavern that may or may not be man-made. Carmichael jumps down with him and discovers Luke’s leg is broken. He sets Luke’s leg and lets him drink some blood from him. Here it’s revealed that Luke is a vampire and Carmichael is human and has “healing blood” from his family lineage.
Luke and Carmichael get out of the hole after his leg heals, but Luke decides not to go back with him. This plays into the second issue as we learn what the Settlement is that Luke isn’t going back to. The leader of the Settlement, Halfpenny, captures a wolf in werewolf form and brings it for pick up to be delivered to the High Executor. Halfpenny finds himself on the way to the capital to meet with the High Executor, who is concerned over Halfpenny loosing Luke shortly after coming to the Settlement.
What’s brilliant about this story is that it’s modern and old at the same time. There’s a religion created around the battle between Vampires and Wolves to the point that they capture and kill a wolf to “recreate” the battle that changed the tides in the vamps favor as a religious act. The humans play a strange role as well since they’re not viewed as food by anyone. It’s the religion that they’re culture has created that’s so damn interesting and different. Luke is the chosen one of prophecy, but he knows they just wrote stuff around him to use him as a propaganda machine. That’s why he left because he doesn’t want to be a part of it anymore, but also why he’s important to them.
The Settlement is another interesting aspect as it has no technology because the religion forbids it and yet it’s in the middle of wolf country (also the title of the book which is awesome to use in a review). The military could go into wolf country and destroy them, but they don’t because it’s forbidden. It shows you that it’s a real religion because it has conflicting elements like this.
The writing is great. Sure there’s the strange opening, but everything after that is smooth sailing. Luke’s character is fleshed out a lot by the second issue and then the story begins working on the secondary characters. It has a TV show vibe and pacing to it which really works to the benefit of the story. The dialogue never really comes off as exposition at least it didn’t to me. I was too interested in getting more details about this world and really just seeing the day-to-day life. That’s rich storytelling in my opinion.
There are two artists on the book, one for each issue, but it actually works. I was partial to the first artist Luke Cooper a little more than Will Pickering, but only because his vampires were cooler looking. Both issues are in black and white; with the first issue have some grey scale as well. Both issues are very details and the world is lively and real looking. There are wolf propaganda signs up and if that doesn’t make the world real then I don’t know what does. The mix between futuristic elements, like some of the stuff in the city, and the Settlement/no tech area was great. Again it gave it an old yet new feel and that was directly from the artwork of both artists.
I’ve been burnt out on the mainstay horror monsters for a while now, but I liked this book because it wasn’t about the monsters. They were just a part of the story, but not the true focus; at least not yet and that’s okay. I’m looking forward to the third issue for sure and can’t wait to continue Luke’s journey. If you want a truly refreshing take on werewolves and vampires, then look no further than Wolf Country.