4 out of 5
I can no longer say that El Torres can’t pass the baton of his creations onto others; I can’t dismiss Amigo-stable writer Massimo Rosi based on his past work with the imprint. Ghost Wolf, volume 3, in which Rosi picks up El’s Wolf creation, jumps right into and deepens the lore of the series that much further, balancing a wealth of characters and villains better than the previous volume, and well delivering on the standards of impressively gory art of the series via Vito Coppola and colorist Vivian Di Chiara.
Two interesting motherfucking points, here: in both of my other Rosi reviews, I noted that his writing seemed to improve immensely when paired with particular editors: Torres, or Andrea Lorenzo Molinari. Molinari returns on this book, so that would seem to add some more grounding to that observation, but also sneaking in to the issue credits: El on dialogue, and dialogue edits. Uh huh. So that would kinda sorta kinda leave Massimo to plotting and story ideas, and those were interesting in his other projects…
‘The End of All Tales’ has the feeling its title implies. That’s probably one of the most important aspects: it actually feels heavy; it feels important. The spirit of the wolf seems to be lost – it’s a Ghost Wolf volume featuring very little of the character – and Mara, leader of the Wolf Clan, is faced with a dual threat: incoming religious zealots and their massive army, and the Lovecraftian beast they seek to resurrect. But rather than just toss these two together in a battle, Rosi (and Torres…) take us through the Clan’s being worn down; Mara’s doubts with the loss of her family and her inability to contact the spirit. There are bloody square offs in each issue, for sure, but each side butts heads and goes home wounded, with the Wolf Clan generally on the losing-er side of that, if only due to how few people they have in comparison to the zealots. Some of the logic as to why these two groups are at odds – meaning why the invading army doesn’t just swerve directions and be on their way – are a little wishy-washy, but that gets fudged by making the leader a puerile perv who’s developed an obsession with the ‘sinful wench’ that is Mara, so there you go. The book also flits narrative POVs quite often, with a lot of talking to spirits and first person narrating and omniscient narrating, but the story is so overloaded – in a positive way – with Wolfy lore and fantastic imagery that it just kind of works as a full-on immersion treatment, with momentum maintained by the fomenting ultimate stand off between these two groups, which all pays off in a fittingly brutal, heavy-duty conclusion that satisfyingly brings the main players to their fitting ends…
Coppola’s art is brutal, and gorgeous; Di Chiara’s colors capture the weather extremes and bloodiness beautifully. There are some cluttered pages, admittedly, but it’s the kind of art that you don’t mind staring at to figure out what’s going on, and a general flow is maintained whether it’s an action or dialogue sequence, so you can either spend time studying or just flip through, as you please.
An excellent continuation of The Ghost Wolf series, and if its title means it’s truly to be our last tale, it’s an effective one.