3 out of 5
Back in the early 2000s, Juan Torres and artists Siku and Loren Lorente produced a Frazetta / Fire & Ice-Bakshi riff called ‘Ghost Wolf’ for the short-lived Dark Planet Productions imprint. Besuited in a wolf skin representing the Corr Clan’s totem, the titular spirit avenger – fighting for the soul of his enslaved Clan – slaughters his way through massive cavemen-types, led by the demonic Kerunnos. The story moves in wide swaths of myth and violence; it’s not intended to be much more than the tribute it is – which it does very well, split between Siku’s P. Craig Russel-like litheness and Lorente’s jagged Risso-style brutality – although Torres takes some steps in the last few pages to deepen the sense of lore, that the spirit of the Ghost Wolf is ongoing…
…Something that would be expanded on and matured when Juan became El and completely rewrote these issues, maintaining the art, and extending it to a four issue series. But at this point, like a decade before, we’re not there yet, and the story is much rougher around the edges. The events that lead young Corr member, Demne, to taken on the role of the avatar are appropriately weighty, the narrative feels a little repetitive and padded thereafter, not leaving enough room to make the squabble with Kerunnos to feel equal in weight (although it’s definitely badass that a Wolf avatar brings a pack of wolves to the fight).
An entertaining and good-looking standalone, but – at least for me – much more interesting as a comparison to how Torres would wipe this out and start anew when he would return to the title later on.