"Wolverton: Thief of Impossible Objects #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Michael Stark and Terrell T. Garrett
Illustrated by Derek Rodenbeck
Colored by Ellen Belmont
2017, 32 Pages
We've heard tales of thieves big and small, going after small time heists and big scores. Jack Wolverton is a thief who works in a very specific line of work: He steals supernatural artifacts. Although he's technically breaking the law, he has noble intentions as he's keeping these powerful items from falling into the wrong hands. Plus, he's a total gentleman.
Wolverton has a charm to him that you can't help but love. He's very good at his job, although he plays rather fast and loose as a thief. This keeps things interesting and certainly keeps him on his toes. This debut issue has him stealing a monkey's paw from a safe aboard a freighter in rough waters. That alone would be rather difficult, but throw in the angry sailors that want to kill him for messing with their stuff and you've got a real challenge.
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Fortunately, Wolverton rises to the occasion, nimbly dodging bullets and leaping about the rocky ship to escape. Artist Derek Rodenbeck creates a varied panel layout that plays to the unpredictable nature of the title character. Wolverton seems to flow from one panel to another, like a strange, yet beautiful dance.
The artwork has a classic look to it, like this is a long-forgotten comic from decades ago. Colorist Ellen Belmont completes this package, nailing the old school pulp flair. This also comes through in Wolverton's costume. He's clad all in black, not unlike Zorro, with a simple black bandanna to cover his eyes. This allows him to blend into the shadows to avoid detection.
The monkey's paw is shown as the creepy supernatural item we all know it to be. It's bad news, but it can grant wishes of unimaginable power. When one is made, it makes an eerie sound and slowly moves one finger down. This is shown in a close-up of the gnarled hand.
The first half of the issue deals with Wolverton and his clever heist and it's a top notch tale. The comic abruptly shifts its attention for the second half to focus on Dorian Gray out in London. Where Wolverton's story is bright, fun, and interesting, Gray's is drab, slow, and boring. The story loses all of the momentum it built up. We get to know Wolverton a bit and want to see his further adventures, but instead we learn about this other guy who presumably will be crossing paths with the gentleman thief somewhere down the line.
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Wolverton: Thief of Impossible Objects was first envisioned as a film. Writers Michael Stark and Terrell T. Garrett had trouble getting it made as it was an original idea and not based on something else, like a comic book...so now it's a comic book. I can see how this could have been a film script first due to the omniscient narration. This describes what the characters are doing which would be necessary in that format, but is made redundant in the comic book medium as we have gorgeous artwork to show us. For example, I don't need to be told that “The steel door slams behind him” because I can see the steel door slamming behind him. Sure, this narration adds some commentary to the plot, however that could be covered in dialogue, either external or internal.
I'm a sucker for a good heist story so I was predisposed to like Wolverton: Thief of Impossible Objects. Fortunately, it delivers on that front. It just fell short once it shifted focus. If this was a film, those opening pages might have lasted 5-10 minutes and you could have easily bounced to Gray and come back. Since it's a comic, the flow feels a little off. There's definitely still a lot of potential here and I'm looking forward to seeing the further adventures of Jack Wolverton, in whatever medium they might appear.
Wolverton: Thief of Impossible Objects can be purchased directly from the creators here.