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Thursday, January 22, 2009

What I’m Reading Now: Simply Astounding

Astounding Wolf-Man
Written By: Robert Kirkman
Art By: Jason Howard

He shocked us in the pages of the survival story The Walking Dead. He won our hearts over to his superhero family in Invincible. And he had us laughing in the books Ant-Man and Battle Pope. So the next logical step in Kirkman’s career is werewolves, right? In 2007, Kirkman agreed. On May 5th 2007, Robert Kirkman along with talented artist Jason Howard set out to tell the story of Gary Hampton, The Astounding Wolf-Man. The story starts at an alarmingly fast pace. The first page opens up to Gary already attacked by a werewolf of unknown origins. One of the many critiques I hear about this book is how fast-paced the story is. Within the first issue, the origin story is almost completely solidified. There are multiple gaps of time missing in which Gary is busy training with his new teacher Zechariah, who is able to understand Gary’s “curse”. I sympathize with these critiques because I would love to see further description of the relationships between Zechariah, Gary, and the rest of his family as well as to really understand the characters as was so well portrayed in books such as The Walking Dead and Invincible. But in Kirkman’s defense, Astounding Wolf-Man is a different story and a different experience from Kirkman’s previous titles. While Kirkman, in previous works, deals heavily with the human experience and story telling through emotion, this title tells the story through the actions of the characters that makes this story heavily action based. This type of story telling leads for a book to be faster paced than other comics. Another great strength of Kirkman’s that has developed through the years is the Image universe. It helps Kirkman to “sell” his other books and also rewards faithful readers by featuring cameos of characters from other titles such as the costume maker and references to Invincible (see issue 9*). Astounding Wolf-man #11 was also a cross over issue with his highly acclaimed series, Invincible. This interconnected story telling provides the reader a real, tangible universe to travel to and also gives the book a great base. Writing aside, Jason Howard does an excellent job with pencils on this book and offers a unique look to this comic much as do Charlie Adlard and Ryan Ottley to there respective titles. Kirkman and Image Comics is slowly creating a universe that is both dense and astounding.

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