Alex Kot and Matt Taylor dig their heels deep into the “Hellblazer” vibe with “Wolf” #1, an oversized debut that introduces the odd and offbeat world of Los Angeles through the eyes of Antoine Wolfe, an immortal paranormal investigator who is haunted by the ghosts of old friends. Seemingly anything can happen in this city, and does. Kot fills the pages with entertaining, original voices and, while the pace of the book doesn’t feel 100% the entire time, there is so much happening and so much being introduced that it’s hard to fault that. Taylor turns in clean, readable illustrations that aid the story with well-acted characters and a strong sense of flow.
Just as much as this story is about Wolf, it’s also about the city of Los Angeles. The city, spread out over many square miles, has several different identities and Kot explores many of these through supernatural and fantastical means. From hypnotizing street magicians to super rich racists and even rent control, readers will discover a city with strange in its blood. Wolfe, Kot’s modern-day Jake Gittes, navigates it all as a man who cannot die and does his best to keep a sense of order among the elements of power over which he has any control. Wolfe is entertaining as a protagonist, reminiscent of John Constantine in his ability to accept any weirdness shoved his way. His take-no-bull attitude is useful for cutting to the heart of any scene, which is important in a book where so much is introduced mid-stream.
The book is almost weighed down too much by the amount of ideas Kot puts on the page. It’s clear the writer is incredibly excited about exploring the City of Angles and Demons, but the depth of the dive immediately makes it difficult to place any greater importance over any other threads. This will most likely shake out as the series explores a particular avenue or other in subsequent issues but, right now, readers may find the spread — much like Los Angeles — a little too sprawling.
Taylor gives life to the book, designing a clean LA on which to spatter blood and grime and adding impact to the supernatural. Against the hot sun and stark panels, the fantastic elements of the story stand out even more. Wolfe’s design is just as simple — a T-shirt and dog tags — which actually sets him apart from the strange characters who weave in and out of his narrative. Just as important are Lee Loughridge’s colors, which add a lot of emotional mis en scene to the page. He uses a base color for each scene, shifting the palette to suit the tension in the script. It’s a subtle, intelligent way to convey to readers how they should be approaching the moments they are reading.
“Wolf” #1 is a comic book jam packed with ideas. Right now, the various elements don’t tie together into a whole just yet, but the characters and setting are entertaining and worth checking out, especially with this 64-page introduction. Kot is known for letting threads dangle out before slowly pulling them all back together, as evidenced in his work on books like “Secret Avengers.” Los Angeles is already a weird place and, with this debut issue, it’s only going to get weirder.