Alabaster, a soft mineral used throughout history in décor such as lamps or figurines and wolves, a cunning social mammal capable of going it alone or forming packs to bring down their prey.
This story-gem of the supernatural combines werewolves and honest-to-God angels revolving around a homeless and on-the-run teen caught in an old South Carolina decrepit town in the middle of a dark summer.
The story seems all-too real. In the news this week a teen girl from North Carolina was admitted to Harvard after some time ago finding her parents had abandoned her; she took up a job as a janitor at a high school to scrounge a living while couch-surfing or sleeping on the floor of friends’ homes. While growing up, her life was rampant with parental “neglect, drug abuse, [and] bad choices [with her] family living from paycheck to paycheck.” These real-world monsters are seen more often than modern society would like revealed and thrusts Alabaster: Wolves’ displaced Dancy Flammarius into a necrotic Deep South while trying to make sense of the chaotic meandering of her life. Dark Horse Comics delivers well in these pages with keen dialog from Caitlín R. Kiernan capturing the essence of loneliness, starvation, and deprivation of worldly-possessions in Dancy’s world as she travels from broken town to town killing werewolves and other dark beasts along the way.
Issue #1 provides the backdrop of Dancy’s need to fib at the expense of losing her one true guardian, an angel, in order to outwit and kill a clever beast. Dancy’s reasoning, much like Nikita Khrushchev’s “if you live among wolves you have to act like a wolf.” Here is where the art of Steve Lieber comes into play as you feel the silent, but vicious frustration of the angel being put on the bargaining table and knowing the true cost of what is at stake, Dancy’s soul. Issue #2 brings about more of this particular werewolf’s family as Dancy enters their den with a foreboding dark neo-gothic church cover by Greg Ruth showing the ominous darkness Dancy is heading into. The unconscious girl is saved by a werewolf at the end of this story, making for a dire strait until the next issue. Issue #1’s cover displayed the same style of emotion in Dancy’s posture and the shadow of the angel while the preview for Issue #3 shows the young heroine being devoured by a wolf, or maybe wearing its skin after devouring it. Here in these pages lay a succulent Southern cosmology, humid wit reaping of solitude and sarcasm of an outcast’s journey, and a sardonic black bird reminiscent of Ikol in Journey Into Mystery. This type of writing is genuine, as if the author has felt the emotions that the character spews raw taking on the world, dispelling its monsters while going it alone.