"Cry Havoc #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Simon Spurrier
Illustrated by Ryan Kelly
Colored by Nick Filardi, Lee Loughridge, and Matt Wilson
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on January 27th, 2016
The werewolf is easily one of the most interesting of monsters, serving as a metaphor for being at war with one's own body. Throughout most of the month, an infected individual can live a normal everyday life, but when the moon is full, they lose control, turning into a hulking beast capable of tearing apart a mortal man. There have been different takes on the mythos over the years, showing how the wolf side can affect the human end of things. Cry Havoc puts its own unique spin on the creature and it's one that is intriguing from the get-go.
A big part of the instant draw for Cry Havoc is that it starts at the end. The creative team is telling the story in three parts: the beginning, middle, and end, each with a different colorist. We get to see Lou getting bit by the werewolf, going on a military mission with a group of other like-minded folks, and ultimately sitting in a cell, awaiting possible execution. Now writer Simon Spurrier and artist Ryan Kelly start filling in the gaps between these points and I'm dying to find out how we get from the innocent woman playing her violin on the streets of London to that same woman behind bars in Afghanistan, looking down the barrel of a gun. Aren't you?
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Although we don't actually get to see Lou transform into the monster, we do get a sort of halfway shot with the very first page. Lou's right arm is twisted and elongated, ending in a claw with jagged fingernails jutting out of each digit. It's unsettling and shows the power lurking just under the surface of this woman.
We also get some incredible images of a version of the beast. It's like a mystical wolf, made of electricity, fur, and rage, leaping from the shadows to rip someone's throat out. This creature is more wolf than human, although it's far scarier than anything you'd see in the woods. Kelly did a tremendous job with this design. There's this blue trail of light that flows from its eyes, giving it the appearance of moving at a breakneck speed. Later on, after Lou has been bitten, there's a gorgeous shot of her looking in a bathroom mirror and seeing the werewolf looming over her from behind, swirling out of a cut of her hand like some bizarre and hideous genie.
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The use of the three colorists throughout the book gives each time period its own unique field. Each has a specific tone that's quickly set by the colors. Nick Filardi brings a bright, vibrant look with the scenes in London, which is a stark contrast to the harsh realities of Afghanistan and “The Red Place” (where Lou is in captivity). The gutters of each page are also color coded as a subtle reminder of when and where each scene is taking place.
The group of soldiers that Lou begins working with in Afghanistan presents an interesting storyline in and of itself. I'd be in for this aspect alone, as it looks like each member of the team has some sort of connection to or is otherwise a kind of monster. They act as if they've seen this kind of thing a million times before and there may be hope for Lou as long as she plays her cards right. I'd read an ongoing comic about a monster military organization in a heartbeat.
Cry Havoc has a strong opener that grabs you from page one. That might be because the first page is also the beginning of the end of the story. It doesn't stop there though; it pulls you in with each new thread of the plot, weaving a well-rounded and personal werewolf tale with a relatable, interesting character at its center. The artwork is clean and gorgeous with just the right amount of terror to keep you on your toes.
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