And, in 1970, John August has finally arrived in Copper Point, Florida, and reveals himself to the daughter of the American soldier he killed during the war. All that’s left . . . is absolution at the point of a gun in her hands.
Wow . . .
Just . . . wow.
I’ve made no secret that I’m a fan of Wolves of Summer, and Issue #6 only serves to reinforce the reasons why. Over the last 5 issues, writer Tony Keaton has managed to turn everything we thought we knew about this story on its head and force us to view it from a new perspective. As a WWII Ishmael, John August has fought to die but has been unable to and seeks an absolution he can’t bestow upon himself. How do you forgive a man who has done evil things? And, how can you sympathize with a monster? Page after page, I found myself gasping, trying to second guess where it was headed and still being constantly (and pleasantly) surprised. And, because of that, I’m going be as spoiler-free as I can here, so you can experience it yourselves.
Throughout its run, this story has grown from what appeared, at first, to be a simple tale of survivor’s guilt to an epic psychological quest for redemption, and, with each issue, the depth of August’s fall has become more tragic and painful. Each of the two timelines we’re following gives us a different, but brilliantly interlocking, tale. In the past, we saw him finally fall to become the wolf he wanted, while in the present (1970s), we follow his journey to become human again. This is a man who has lost or given up everything he has ever loved and knows that, even still, the punishment he deserves is beyond his grasp, but continues to seek a resolution, no matter what the cost.
Herbst’s deceptively simple inks have come to full fruition in this issue, with all the themes previously teased at coming to a head, while never ceasing to be of complete service to the story. In a book made up of shades of grey, his deft, black-and-white strokes come to life. An Allied bombing run illustrates the emotional horrors of war and August’s ultimate fall from grace in a way that words never could, and even the violent conclusion is ultimately satisfying, proving that something good can come out of even the worst circumstances.
This gripping tale of redemption and absolution is a must-have for anyone who appreciates good storytelling, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the short-list for Eisner Awards this summer at Comic-Con.
“The mistakes we made. The people we were. Tonight, they shall die . . .
. . . so that we may be born as wolves.”
VERDICT: FIVE Sacrificial Lambs out of FIVE