Review: The 'Alabaster: Wolves' Hardcover Collects One of the Best Miniseries of 2012A comic review article by: David Fairbanks
When I first stumbled on Alabaster: Wolves, I was a bit apprehensive. At the surface, the book felt a bit like Buffy with a southern bend to it. Of course, it only took a few pages for that all to melt away. Kiernan's Dancy Flammarion was born in prose, but I have to say that she looks like she was made for comics. Gangly and disheveled, her stark pink/white skin and hair clash heavily with the dark atmosphere (paired with the appropriately dark backgrounds), causing her mere presence to make a statement on the page.
What I really love about Dancy is that it's hard to tell just how sane she is. While she's narrating, I assume we're supposed to at least take many of the events that occur in-panel at face value, but the talking bird, her guardian angel, and the ghost she eventually sees feel at least a little open to interpretation. When you add in that Dancy's hardly a saint, you get an interesting protagonist traipsing around an incredibly disturbing portion of the southern US with one of the darkest vibes I've received for an adventure-horror story in some time.
Lieber's characterization, from the way he draws Dancy just lazing about on a bench on one page to very clearly shifting to a defensive posture on that same bench the next page can tell us a lot about the character. It's the kind of portrayal that accentuates the dialogue, but where you could tell something about what's going on in the story without the word balloons.
There's a wonderfully violent page where the only text is Dancy reminiscing about a song she can't remember the name of, and the juxtaposition works beautifully. One of the other things I found myself really enjoying is that, while on one hand I was confident she would make it through to the last chapter, I wasn't very sure whether Dancy would survive the story. Somehow, the stakes feel particularly real, which is a nice break from the capes and tights world where death changes everything forever until next time.
A great deal of the mood of Alabaster: Wolves can be credited to the colorist, Rachelle Rosenburg. While the contrast between Dancy and her environment is clearly a side effect of the coloring, Dancy looks genuinely albino, rather than simply being left white. There are moments from page to page, sometimes panel to panel, where the color scheme changes drastically; the appearance of Dancy's angel in particular causes the color palette to be dominated by sunset hues that pretty rightfully convey a fiery wrath.
The short backup after the main story was a nice addition, although the art and the convenience of loaning out one of the best miniseries I read in 2012 was reason enough to pick up the collection.
David Fairbanks doesn't get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an “adult,” whatever that is.