After 25 issues, Robert Kirkman’s Astonishing Wolf-Man is drawing to a close, and you can’t say it’s for lack of effort of a high concept. Essentially, the lead character is a family man and billionaire who gets bitten by a werewolf and decides to fight crime—he’s a superhero who’s also a werewolf. Now, I don’t know about you, but that just kind of hits the sweet spot of awesome and absurd that I look for in a comic concept. Still, maybe a solo book wasn’t the best venue for a character that could best be described as “Batman except a kind-hearted werewolf.”
In the final issue, our wolf-man, Gary, squares off against the werewolf that turned him while the pack looks on to see who takes over the mantle of leadership. The ensuing fight sees Gary’s vampire mentor, Zachariah die from a sudden case of having his heart ripped out, and the rest of the issue is just as bloody. Kirkman effectively turns the page on a couple of years of stories that had the lead hailed as a hero, hunted as a criminal, and haunted by the why’s and wherefore’s of his becoming a werewolf. The script pretty much lays it all out on the table, wrapping up Gary’s arc and throwing in some of the side characters from the Kirkman-verse, including Invincible’s scarred and geriatric Nick Fury, Cecil Steadman.
The final pages of the main story promise a werewolf commando strikeforce—which I can totally get behind—and the possibility of a little werewolf superhero vs. ultimate vampire action in future plots. As I said: it’s right where awesome and absurd meet, and if you’re not into it, then you’re maybe not into the kind of stories Kirkman’s looking to tell. There’s also a backup for a character called “Code Blue” which is pretty impenetrable if you haven’t been reading up to this point. So, your mileage may vary on that count.
Art chores are handled by Jason Howard, who works on what I like to think of as the Kirkman-verse house style, with elaborate renderings of non-humans, monsters, aliens, and the like, and simple, clean renderings of the human cast. It creates a kind of visual continuity between this title, Guardians of the Globe, Invincible, and whatever other titles spring out of Kirkman’s imagination for Image. While it means a reader won’t be especially surprised by anything visually between the books, it also means that there’s a clear, high-quality standard being met on a month-to-month basis.
Check out a preview of Astounding Wolf-Man #25!