AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: The Astounding Wolf-Man
Here we are, Day 2 of werewolf comics week. This year’s Halloween articles are focusing on werewolves. I’ll be looking at werewolves in comic books all this week. Yesterday I discussed Image’s Dracula Meets The Wolf Man. Today, I’ll look at another Image comic book, The Astounding Wolf-Man.
The Astounding Wolf-Man is a comic book written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Jason Howard. It was launched in May 2007, the first issue being given away during Free Comic Book Day. I actually talked about reading this series back in April.
The story revolves around Gary Hampton, a corporate CEO, who is violently attacked by an animal while on vacation with his family and barely survives. Gary later learns that the animal was a werewolf and he now is cursed to turn into a werewolf during the full moon. Gary meets Zechariah, a vampire, who teaches him to use his newly acquired werewolf abilities for good. Gary gets a costume and starts patrolling the streets for crime as The Wolf-Man (a-la BAT-man or SPIDER-man). Gary can change into his wolf form whenever he wants and has complete control over that form except during the full moon when the wolf completely takes over. He also has heightened strength, speed, senses and a highly accelerated healing ability which is nearly instantaneous when he reverts to human then back to wolf.
While training with Zechariah, Gary’s home life starts to deteriorate. His wife resents his late night adventures and his daughter is afraid of him. After confronting a gang of werewolves one night, Gary learns that he is not an ordinary werewolf. The wolf that attacked him was an Elder Wolf. Centuries old and much more powerful than the mixed breed werewolves running around today. As a result, Gary is also much more powerful than normal werewolves. Gary is left to ponder why an Elder Wolf would attack him as they apparently haven’t been seen in hundreds of years. Many believe they aren’t even around anymore.
Gary starts to not trust Zechariah as the vampire appears to have his own hidden agenda. After Zechariah kills Gary’s wife, he seeks out the Elder Wolf that turned him to learn how to fight and defeat a vampire. Gary spends many months finding and gaining the trust of the Elder Wolf who then trains Gary for his eventual showdown with Zechariah.
During the time Gary is training with the Elder Wolf, his daughter, Chloe, goes to Zechariah to train her to fight and kill her father as she mistakenly believes Gary killed her mother. An idea which Zechariah, of course, didn’t correct. Right before they fight, Gary is caught by the government and held in a super prison, but he’s also helped by a guy that heads up a secret agency and believes Gary to be innocent. He helps Gary escape and Gary finally meets up with Zechariah in a big battle in which Chloe shows up and joins in.
And that’s about where my reading has ended. Sadly, the series will end this year at issue #25. For this review I read the first three trade paperback collections; Volume 1, 2 and 3 (pics above) that collect the first eighteen issues. I’m currently awaiting the release of Volume 4, the final trade collection, which will arrive later this year. And you can bet your ass I’m going to read it. This comic is a fantastic werewolf (and super hero) book and I’ve greatly enjoyed reading it for this blog. I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a comic this much. It helps that I’m a huge werewolf fan and also a huge fan of Silver Age comic stories because this series very much hearkens back to the super hero yarns of the late ’80s (but with a darker twist). I very much look forward to reading more Wolf-Man stories because the writing and art are superb.
Because of how much I enjoyed this series, I also picked up several other books by Robert Kirkman. I next tried Invincible, which is a character that made an appearance in several of the Wolf-Man issues. It is also GREAT. Then I read all of Kirkman’s Marvel Zombie stuff which is really, really great too. Kirkman is also writing the very popular series The Walking Dead which is being turned into an AMC TV show as we speak (Kirkman is even writing some of the episodes). I have not had a chance to read any of those just yet. But I want to. Robert Kirkman updates can be found at his personal site, Kirkmania.
Along with the writing, the artwork in this book is fantastic. Jason Howard, the artist, really knows how to draw dynamically exciting scenes. His style is very kinetic and lends itself to superhero action. Jason recently drew the one-shot Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark (covers above) which is in its second printing (and sounds ridiculously fun). I actually have this issue and I’ll review it later on this blog. It just sounds like something I should review, doesn’t it? Anyway, more news and updates on Jason with tons of artwork can be found at JasonHowardArt.com.
UPDATE – 10/2012 – I review the final 6 issues of this comic for AWESOME-tober-fest 2012.
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.