Werewolves don’t seem to get as much mainstream adoration as vampires, perhaps because a rabid, uncontrollable human/dog hybrid doesn’t carry the same gothic romantic weight as the neck-biting undead. However, there have been a few notable exceptions, and Woodland Creatures is the latest graphic novel to join the pack.
This first book in the series, adapted from Christina Roswell’s urban fantasy novel, doesn’t stray too far from its roots. In this version of the myth, the creatures can change between canine and human form at will, but it’s very much an option of one or the other – the werewolf stage dog-like, with no partial, in-between wolfman phase.
Werewolves are a separate species, living alongside humans, trying to keep their murderous habits below the radar. Human governments tolerate their existence as long as they don’t offer too much of a threat to the population, but military organisations are looking for ways to militarise them and press their ultra-violent lycanthropic population into military service.
As we join the story, this relationship between human and lycanthrope appears to be under threat, with the werewolves’ apparent key lobbyist arguing against such slavery with a top military figure at some kind of closed United Nations hearing. As a full moon approaches, he agrees to take his spectacularly beautiful but dangerously volatile werewolf girlfriend to some kind of dinner function full of dignitaries and other important types. What could possibly go wrong?
The black and white art is good, harnessing a mixture of styles. Some of the characters and action scenes have a manga-like look to them, but it’s subtle and cuts its own path.
Perhaps there isn’t enough of the body of the story in this first episode to get me fully engaged yet, but after an initial rush of sexually-charged violence that grabbed me by the throat, the story that backs it up doesn’t appear to have enough space in this first volume to fully develop the characters or keep the momentum going.
Anyone who can’t get enough of this sort of urban fantasy, which leverages well-worn horror clichés into modern stories, may find this professionally-executed start to be just what the doctor ordered. However, for my tastes, the plot and the characters’ backstories may be ripe for further development but don’t reveal enough in this first volume to leave me howling for more.
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