ADVANCED REVIEW: ’Wolvenheart,’ Volume 1: Legendary Slayer

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Wolvenheart

Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer is published by Mad Cave Studios, written by Mark London, with art by Alejandro Giraldo and letters by Miguel Angel Zapata. Meet Sterling Cross. He is a time-traveling monster hunter who belongs to the organization known as Wolvenheart. Their duty is to protect humanity’s timeline from time-displaced monsters who threaten to change the course of history. But not to worry, they have everything under control.

There is a real challenge to establishing a new fictional setting. Especially when elements of fantasy or science-fiction are involved. It becomes a delicate balancing act of keeping the reader from becoming lost in terminology, bizarre powers, and place names, while also providing all the interesting characters and good storytelling one expects from any piece of narrative media. And while Wolvenheart Volume 1 Legendary Slayer handles this balance better than some, it still has its fair share of struggles.

Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer’s greatest strength is its style. Dropped in a Sci-Fi meets gothic horror aesthetic, the story has a fairly unique look to it. This sense of style further infuses many of the key characters of the story. Not the least of which is Sterling himself.

Sterling displays all the classic roguish,  go my own way, take tons of risks hot shots that are hard not to be charmed by. This carefree attitude is only emboldened by Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer freewheeling approach to time travel. Since Sterling can literally fix any mistake he makes, so long as he has access to his dimension key.

This leads to an interesting contradiction in how Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer approaches its story. For a concept that pushes the point of time traveling so hard the entire story remains firmly grounded in a single era in time. And it is the most unoriginal period for the horror elements that are the other side of its setting. England in the mid-1800s. While this classic gothic setting is delivered with quality, I cannot help but feel like a huge opportunity is missed here. Rather than tread the same old ground of werewolves and monsters, this story has the perfect excuse to take that well-trodden imagery and deliver it someplace entirely new. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. And while the choice of setting could be debated about, the story present here suffers from some truly massive flaws.

The overwhelming impression I walked away from Wolvenheart Volume 1 Legendary Slayer was one of a frantic hurry. So many characters, places, and concepts get introduced that little to none of it really connects. Some huge events happen in this book. But since I have only just entered this world, the apparent impact these moments are supposed to have been robbed of the bulk of their meaning. After all, how much can a character’s death be expected to hit me when I can barely even remember the person’s name? The franticness of Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer’s plot is further compounded by an inability to let plot points linger.

Wolvenheart Volume 1 Legendary Slayer

About mid-way through the book, one of the characters makes an unassuming statement that, when combined with the choice of visual presentation, hints at a connection to another character. Once I flipped the page I discovered my impressions to be correct as they are bluntly stated by one of the characters.

Why bother to be coy if you are just going to announce it in a moment anyway? This, along with other reveals that decidedly did not need to be made in this introductory volume made me feel like London was unsure enough of the possibility a sequel that he felt compelled to drop the potential future plot points here, just in case.

While there are other plot problems I could go on about suffice it to say, this isn’t a story you should look too closely at. There is a fun horror-inspired adventure here, you just have to admire it from a distance to not find all the faults.

While these issues plague the story of Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer the artistic presentation is not nearly so hampered. The settings and characters are all delivered with skill. Every locale is engrossing, and every fight scene is dynamic. Giraldo’s artwork is further enhanced by his execution of the colors. Dramatic, sweeping uses of color emphasize the moments wonderfully. This is especially true where the color red is involved.

The visual aspect of Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer is also aided by Zapata’s lettering. A large variety of styles are used to give the words themselves a nice punch. This keeps the visual presentation of the dialogue feels right at home in the style of heavy art.

So, when all is said and done Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer is, at best, a mixed bag. Providing a fun protagonist, some cool plot moments, and gorgeous visuals, it tarnishes these strengths with an overly safe setting, and sub-par plot, that feels rushed, and unsure of itself. If one is looking for a fun, turn-off-your-brain, and enjoyable monster-filled adventure, you might find what you are looking for here. If, however, you are looking for something with a  strong story that doesn’t require you to constantly ignore the glaring faults its narrative presents, you will want to look elsewhere for your next read.

Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer is available on August 19th wherever comics are sold.


’Wolvenheart,’ Volume 1: Legendary Slayer
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TL;DR

So, when all is said and done Wolvenheart Volume 1: Legendary Slayer is, at best, a mixed bag. Providing a fun protagonist, some cool plot moments, and gorgeous visuals, it tarnishes these strengths with an overly safe setting, and sub-par plot, that feels rushed, and unsure of itself. If one is looking for a fun, turn-off-your-brain, and enjoyable monster-filled adventure, you might find what you are looking for here. If, however, you are looking for something with a  strong story that doesn’t require you to constantly ignore the glaring faults its narrative presents, you will want to look elsewhere for your next read.