Writer: Myke Cole
Artist: Tony Akins
Colors: Vladimir Popov
Letters: Jim Campbell
“The Siege of Vienna in 1683 is one of the most dramatic, visually arresting, and movie-ready stories in the history of warfare. It arguably decided the future of the European and Turkish worlds both. And almost nobody has even heard of it …”
– MYKE COLE
HISTORICAL FICTION SHINES IN DEBUT
The setting for Hundred Wolves is immediately captivating. 17th Century Europe usually elicits thoughts of the French, Spanish, and/or English in some kind of bloody turmoil. Instead of treading over well worn ground we get a sparsely traveled tale that is just as rich in history and stained by blood. The opening two panels of the book illustrate the brilliance of this comic. The symmetry displayed in the opening panels runs all throughout the pages and helps the reader get immersed in the forced struggle that the main characters face. Andrei and Oksana were done with their warrior ways. Caring for their daughter was what they had chosen to be their guiding light going forward. Their timing couldn’t have been worse though as they chose to leave behind the swords and guns just as the most decisive years (and battles) of the Ottoman Empire looming on the horizon. Once proud members of the Hundred Wolves, the two find that their past has no intention of letting them breathe even for a second. It isn’t just their Cossack family that wishes to employ their services. Their newly found harmony has an underlying motif as well. The very lord through which they’ve obtained their farm land has eyes for their violent abilities.
There’s depth to Hundred Wolves and a simple exchange early in the book completely sets up the main characters as well as the underlying driving forces of who they are as people. As husband and wife they quip back and forth about marriage and children despite having just made a literal escape from death and still being in the midst of battle. In fact the early pages and depiction of a previous battle Andrei and Oksana have gone through lays loads of ground work and displays just what the whole creative team has in store for the reader.
THE BOOK BREATHES AS ONE
As you turn the pages in Hundred Wolves you can’t help but feel that each member of the creative team was putting their part of the page down in unison with everyone else. From the down right perfect opening symmetry of the first two panels to the insanely natural dialogue the efforts of the creative team have ended in a book that allows the story being told to envelop the reader. This is historical fiction and Cole’s ability to tell a story translates perfectly into this genre. Taking the framework from this pivotal time in history he’s woven a beautiful first chapter tapestry. There are layers of feeling within these characters and the ways in which they are being pulled. Expert lettering from Campbell helps translate the feel of the characters, the time, and the emotion that these pulls are drawing to the surface. Together Akins and Popov have put forth a look that conveys the elements of this piece in a manner that creates perfect synergy with the story telling. The framing and coloring of the flashbacks doesn’t take away from, but rather, enhances the effectiveness of what’s being portrayed. From swords and shields to flintlocks to winged armor the intricacy of the merging of time periods looks as natural and clumsy as it would have been. It works in unison with the portrayal of the thoughts and actions of the advancement of time enforcing itself on proceedings.
A FIVE STAR FIRST ISSUE
You’re going to be hard pressed to find anything that you don’t like Hundred Wolves. You’ll be even harder pressed to find something that doesn’t work within the pages. Engrossing in every aspect Hundred Wolves is as perfect a debut issue as you can get. The masterful storytelling and brilliant visual adaption are amplified by the wholly unique backdrop.
Hundred Wolves #1 is due out May 13 – 2020