"Howl #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Eastin DeVerna and Ryan Davidson
Illustrated by Dan Buksa
2015, 32 Pages
Jack Lowe seems to have a good life. He's got a steady job at a local school and he's up for a promotion. His marriage appears solid and still has that spark. There's just one thing though: Jack is the only human in a world filled with werewolves. Most of the time, this isn't a problem. Then the full moon rolls around, and Jack's life gets decidedly more complicated.
Indie comic Howl raises all sorts of questions and what if scenarios. How would you live if once a month you had to fight for your life against hulking lycanthropes? I'm not sure just yet why Jack has to keep his human condition a secret, but I'm very curious about it. He's definitely the minority here. Would he become at target if people knew he didn't howl at the moon?
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Howl presents such a crazy yet simple setup. It's a wonder no one has done this before. Writers Eastin DeVerna and Ryan Davidson craft a world that makes sense given the werewolf parameters. There are curfews and rules in place because once a month everyone turns into monsters, but the next day they still have to get on with their lives. The day after every full moon is considered a holiday of sorts, so everyone can recharge and clean up whatever messes they've made. This kind of stuff is weaved into the story organically, not rehashed in long exposition.
Jack has a routine down for that time of the month. This includes chaining up his wife in the basement (she's a werewolf, after all) and boarding up the doors and windows. If he can ignore the cries of the werewolves nearby, he can actually get some work done. Of course, that doesn't always happen. It wouldn't be much of a story otherwise. When the comic opens up, Jack's wife breaks free of her bonds and very nearly kills him. He's prepared to deal with her, like this is something that has happened before.
It's very easy to relate to Jack right away. He seems like a standup guy, just trying to do what's best for him and his family, while staying alive in the process. This makes the dangers he faces on a regular basis all the more terrifying. I feel for Jack and I instantly care about him, so I obviously don't want to see him ripped to shreds. Part of this is due to artist Dan Buksa's design for the character. Jack is strong but not intimidating. He looks like the kind of guy you'd want to grab a beer with.
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Buksa's stellar design work extends to the werewolves. They're huge beasts, like furry killing machines. Their limbs are just a little too long, giving them a lanky and unnatural appearance. Each one is different as well, so it's easy to tell them apart. There's a bit of the human in the lycanthrope form which is a nice touch. My favorite shots are of otherwise normal settings like an exterior scene of Jack's home with a werewolf perched on top of his car in the driveway. This perfectly encapsulates the idea behind Howl. This is like any other full moon. These creatures aren't hiding in the shadows. They own the night.
Howl is an impressive debut with a unique spin on the werewolf mythos. It takes these monsters out of the minority for once and puts them in a real position of power. Jack is put in life-threatening danger every single month and that's just how he has to live his life. That makes for some pretty interesting possibilities and I'm looking forward to how the creative team explores them in the rest of the series.