If you’re like me you can’t get enough Halloween content. We only get one month to go all in with horror so you might as well pack it in when you can. From vampires to zombies there’s so much to enjoy, but one specific monster never seems to get enough airtime. That monster is of course the werewolf who has a couple films, a few precious comics, and not a whole lot else. Enter new Kickstarter comic Packs of the Lowcountry available to support on Kickstarter right now.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
From writer John Dudley, artist Don Cardenas and colorist Mark Dale (with Kelly Fitzpatrick), ‘Packs’ takes place 16 years after the world was overrun by nightmarish creatures. Only one fortified city is known to be free of the Invaders. But a rumor of a 2nd city in South Carolina’s lowcountry sends a team deep into enemy territory. This crew of investigators is tired of running from their demons. But there is is more to fear from this mission than they realize. Join them in a story about taking confident steps forward despite living in a monstrous world that encourages anything but assurances.
Why does this matter?
Kickstarter is an incredibly reliable place to get comic book content that’s a bit different. Creator-owned without pesky editors in the way, it’s a way for readers to get something direct from the imagination of creators we’ll be seeing more of in the future. This story is a post apocalyptic one that weaves in demented scientists, werewolves, and big story ideas.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
He’s a crazy character.
John Dudley and Don Cardenas open this book outside a wall. A woman is rushing to save herself from something in the woods, but they can’t risk saving her, however safe it seems. Enter sharp teeth and big sound effects as she’s torn apart. This graphic novel is all about a world where society has crumbled and the only thing that makes sense is that monsters need a good killing. The protagonist is named Bastion, a 20 something male who was alive when the monster takeover began. Bastion is tough on the exterior but has some issues about managing his fear as he goes into the field on a mission that’s life or death. Along the way he befriends a cooky and somewhat crazy scientist, fellow soldiers who have stayed alive due to some amazing powers, and new revelations as he himself becomes a monster too.
This is one of those serial stories that’s entertaining because it slowly reveals new details, drops some big twists, and keeps the pacing moving. The big monster attack, for instance, is slowly revealed through flashbacks which slowly reveal a better understanding of what was lost. You can tell Dudley has a strong influence from superhero comics, specifically X-Men. By the end of the graphic novel, there’s a team of sorts created, which ends up making this entire book an origin story as characters join forces, gain new abilities, and learn to work together. That gives the book a good backbone as it works towards its finish and I was never quite sure what would happen next.
The art can be very good in this book too. There’s plenty of gore so horror fans should rest easy reading this one. There’s great detail when it comes to trees and environments throughout and there are some dynamic pages (like the one below) that take chances. There’s also a good amount of detail and while the art can be rough around the edges it’s nice to see time spent developing the world. Take for instance a monster brain with tubes and vials popping out of it. The thing is gnarly looking and adds a Reanimator vibe to the scene. In another there’s a well designed escape vehicle that adds a ’90s brand of cool to the story.
It can’t be perfect can it?
As I said before, the art is sometimes unfinished looking and can feel amateurish. It’s never a deal breaker, but I was left underwhelmed here and there throughout reading this book. The color and style of the book also seems to start with a straight horror vibe but goes all in with the superhero stuff by the end. It never quite jells together.
The same can be said for the story which, again, starts off with a hard horror vibe, but gravitates towards superhero action by the end. Obviously, there are horror vibes when monsters are running around who need smiting, but the way it’s drawn and told this is totally a superhero comic at its core.
The story, while it’s filled with surprises and seems to have a strong direction, can drag for portions. It’s particularly slow during a sequence where Bastion is sick after being bitten by a werewolf. Knowing how werewolves work the comic seemed to drag out the big reveal of his transformation.
Is It Good?
Overall I dug the story, as it kept the reader guessing and always seemed to have a good panel of art or big splash. Its identity is in question though and you’ll never quite grasp what it’s trying to do as it’s a bit all over the place. The art can also be rough around the edges, but as far as delivering a werewolf action frenzy goes, it succeeds.