The religious aesthetic of the American South is one of the most prevailing tropes in horror fiction to date; only to be matched by the “The Chosen One” concept dominating the urban fantasy sub-genre—Bonus points if the Chosen One happens to be a reluctant teenaged girl, sworn to fight against the forces of darkness. Dark Horse Comics’ Alabaster: Wolves is an amalgamation of all these common tropes, yet Caitlin R. Kiernan manages to write a series that falls far outside its clichéd foundation.
WRITTEN BY: Caitlin R. Kiernan
ART BY: Steve Lieber
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: February 13th
Award winning author, Caitlin R. Kiernan teams up with acclaimed artist Steve Lieber (“Whiteout”) to create this ambiguously post-apocalyptic world that’s deeply rooted in the American South. Lieber’s artwork is murky and sets the tone effectively, as it presents a dark, yet ethereal world created through the mythically poetic imagination of both writer, and artist. Opening with a despairing single-panel page, “Alabaster: Wolves” begins with our protagonist entering a deserted South Carolina town which reeks of “slow death”.
The narrative follows sixteen-year-old, Dancy Flammarion, a religious, albino drifter anointed with the calamitous calling of being a grudging slayer of monsters and demons. By the command of an unsympathetic and impassive seraph, Dancy journeys through the Podunk towns of the American South, bringing death upon each and every supernatural target assigned to her. But she’s had enough. Sick and tired of doing her angel’s dirty work, Dancy rebels against her calling, and causes the seraph to abandon her. This sets forth a series of events that lead our protagonist to the greatest evil she’s ever had to face; and ultimately, leaves Dancy in a crisis of faith and disillusionment. Will she choose to carry out her journey on her own, or will she forever be a slave to the “system”?
The Southern Gothic style of “Alabaster: Wolves”, in both script and art, lends itself to a higher level of uniqueness and authenticity most Southern horror fiction fail to achieve. There’s nothing contrived or trite about the series. Even Kiernan’s protagonist veers away from the conventional hero tropes. Dancy Flammarion may very well be ridding the world of “evil”, but she’s a sociopathic hero. She’s an antihero who has a fundamental lack of empathy and a sociopathic disregard for human life. So long as the monsters die, she can accept the death of innocents as a just sacrifice, and there’s something disturbingly refreshing about that.
“Alabaster: Wolves” is like the lovechild of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, Bill Paxton’s “Frailty”, and “Hellboy” (specifically “The Chained Coffin and Others”). If any of these things interest you, then this is a book I’d highly recommend.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd