Space Goat Publishing has the rights to publish stories in some of my absolute favorite horror universes, and that will always earn massive points from me, as I’m as maniacal about my horror as a janitor is his Lysol. So, needless to say, when I got my hands on the first issue of The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen #1, I felt a wave of giddiness pulsate through my flesh. The original Howling picture was superb, and if the title of this book proved to be the hint I believed it might – as to the direction Space Goat and writer Micky Neilson and artist Jason Johnson were going to take the story – then a tremendous story was waiting at my fingertips.
My instincts and Space Goat’s title ended up aligning perfectly, and what I got was a direct follow-up to the events of Joe Dante’s epic film.
The story opens with Chris Halloran battling his own demons after shooting Karen as she transformed into a werewolf, live on air (you can see that final scene from the first Howling film below), during her nightly broadcast, which she elected to use as a moment to prove to the world that werewolves do indeed exist. Naturally, Chris isn’t doing well mentally, as one would expect, but things take a very interesting turn when Marsha Quist, the lead female werewolf that was also featured in the film, pops up out of the blue.
I won’t proceed with plot details for this particular issue of the comic run. You deserve a little surprise in regard to the story line. What’s really amazing, and what you need to understand about this book, is that it was assembled by horror fans. It was assembled by talented individuals who not only know the film, The Howling, they also clearly carry some admiration for the movie, as well. To pick up directly where the film left off, and to work at incorporating as many direct, accurate ties to the film (and to do so with passion), says an awful lot about the gang behind this book.
Neilson’s narrative is sharp and immediately engrossing. On paper, we’re essentially getting the first real sequel that we’ve always wanted. It’s an honest continuation of Dante’s picture and that just completely stole my heart. The fact that I’ve got to wait for subsequent issues, for the full story to unfold, is a pain in the neck. But a little anticipation isn’t likely to kill me, and I’m so wild about the story that it has managed to rekindle a little bit of nostalgia in this aging fanatic. It’s been a few decades since I counted down the days until a new comic book arrived. The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen #1 has me crossing days off the old school (see: physical) calendar.
But I can’t wrap up a review of this nature without complimenting the wonderful artist, Jason Johnson. His style is edgy, more conventional than experimental and he brings werewolves to life in glorious fashion. Every page is a gift. Every panel is a micro-treasure, each building up until the final page of this amazing opener has passed – and, I’ll reiterate – it sucked to reach that final page. I wanted more immediately. That’s a successful showing from an artist, and it’s a successful showing from an author.
As much as I adore the numerous Evil Dead II books that Space Goat releases (and believe me, I enjoy the Deadites out of those books!), I’d be a liar if I told you that the first issue of The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen isn’t – hands down – my favorite book that Space Goat has released thus far, and easily one of the five most gratifying titles I’ve read in the last few years. This is brilliance in comic book form, and I absolutely guarantee you that if you call yourself a fan of Dante’s film, you are going to love this book. This is one of the rare comics on the market that is worth every single cent of the $4 price tag, and then some.
If you make any purchase online today, make it issue #1 of The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen. You can thank me later, or you can do the more logical thing and get to ordering the second issue.