"Cry Havoc: Volume 1 – Mything in Action" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Originally published as Cry Havoc #1 - #6
Written by Simon Spurrier
Illustrated by Ryan Kelly
Colored by Matt Wilson, Lee Loughridge, and Nick Filardi
2016, 160 Pages
Trade paperback released on August 17th, 2016
Lou seemed happy playing her violin for tips on the sidewalk. She had a loving girlfriend and a gig with a band. Then she was mugged by a werewolf...sort of. This sends her into Afghanistan and up against a homicidal monster-woman hellbent on changing / destroying the world. This all might sound a little complicated at first. Fortunately, all three of these stories are happening at the same time.
Cry Havoc focuses on these three time periods of Lou's life. Each one is handled by a different colorist to give it a unique look and feel. It's like Pulp Fiction with werewolves. This works incredibly well, as your mind is racing trying to figure out how Lou gets from one point to the next and to the cage we see her in on the very first page. The earlier scenes, outlined in blue, look more normal because this is when Lou's life starts to spiral out of control. The Afghanistan scenes are sun-bleached with its colors faded. Finally, the scenes beginning with the cage have a gritty feel to them.
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Each stage of the story has a slightly different version of Lou, as she's going through the acceptance of her new status quo. While her body literally transforms, you see her transform as a character going through this experience, learning and growing. By the end of the book, she's a completely different person, made stronger by what she went through, however rough it may have been. We see her at her most vulnerable and her most confident and everything in between.
The werewolf thing is a bit of a misnomer. At first, yes, that's exactly what it looks like. Lou transforms into a shaggy wolf made of electric blue fire, tearing out throats and rampaging through alleyways. As you get further into the story, you find that it's much more than that. Lou doesn't change with the full moon. It's something she can learn to control or give in to the urges and let the animal run free. She's not a lycanthrope. Instead it's more like an idea or a piece of folklore. Lou is not the only person possessed by these spirits and each is more terrifying than the last.
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Artist Ryan Kelly's designs for these creatures are pure nightmare fuel. If you're evenly remotely afraid of dogs, this book is going to scare the crap out of you. Everything about it is made to kill. Its limbs are just a little too long, ending in massive claws. The transformation process is rather brutal as well. It's almost like the beast wraps itself around Lou. When she changes back, she pulls herself free, shedding it like a second skin.
Cry Havoc pulls you in from the very first page, revealing a character-driven horror story of epic proportions. These first six chapters tell a complete story, but the door is left wide open for some pretty amazing future issues. Writer Si Spurrier has established a world of monsters and folklore lurking just beneath the surface of our own. This may have looked like a werewolf book at first, but it's more akin to Neil Gaiman's American Gods.