The first is artist Dave Wachter, who manages to make this final issue’s battle between men and wolves and man-wolves look compelling, even with a monochromatic, gray-on-gray aesthetic. This third act tries to achieve something resembling a coherent theme when wolf-goddess Nagbre reveals how the men of this Scandinavian countryside had brought about their own doom, which leads to burly Harrick declaring that he will die fighting her, and Wachter almost succeeds in depicting this act of defiance for the futility it really is as the man spits on Nagbre and raises a sword against the attacking wolves.
In turn, this leads to my second reason I’m following this mini-series to its gory conclusion: the image of Nagbre, a giant wolf with glowing eyes, is just too good to pass up as she rips apart those who stand against her (I know I said previously that random violence against cannon fodder that happens without rhythm is not my cup of tea, but the giant wolf got my attention) or snout-butting Harrick’s father-in-law–who for some reason never explained to Harrick that his father had cursed him–to the ground. Wachter gives Nagbre a great sense of physicality in these scenes, leaping over the wall and landing with a giant “Thoom”. When Harrick’s wife Sophia decides to go Ellen Ripley and demands Nagbre’s attention, standing amidst dead bodies with bow at the ready, it definitely says something about her that she doesn’t bat an eye when the wolf god stares her down. It’s a feat that commands respect even from the bloodthirsty enemy.
I had said before that Wachter’s imagery calls to mind the gothic sensibilities of heavy metal (particularly Dio), and it certainly comes through in the closing scenes, which involves Nagbre nursing her brood and another dark promise, a scene that looks like it came straight out of a music video. Unfortunately, such style is used for an ending that doesn’t conclude the story so much as stop it. There is no resolution in the rivalry between Harrick and his father-in-law, which had been a running subplot for these three issues, and the only thing Bobby Curnow promises is a sequel (explicity stated in whispered dialogue that takes up half a page and shouldn’t have been possible to convey under the circumstances). In other words, it’s another of those instances where a comic with a fairly limited, basic premise tries to extend that into franchise potential (Walking Dead, 30 Days of Night), which is not necessarily a bad thing if one can find a decent hook, but that sort of audacity requires a stable foundation this mini-series does not provide.
Wachter’s art is still great, though.