Pullbox Reviews: Wolverton, Thief of Impossible Objects #2 – Daring do & quips galore!

When the Catholic Church needs something stolen, they turn to Wolverton. Dashing playboy by night, daring thief known as the Black Cat by… okay, also by night. So it is that when the Hope Diamond, thought by many to be cursed, goes on display, Wolverton goes into motion. He’ll have to avoid the many security measures put into place by the local constabulary, and ease the suspicions of Scotland Yard Inspector Henry Munroe, but with the help of inventive genius H. G. Wells the Black Cat is always up to the task.

A complete throwback story that has its roots deeply embedded in the thrilling swashbucklers of yesteryear, the Thief of Impossible Objects wouldn’t work without wholeheartedly, unashamedly, embracing its origins. As a fan of those old movies myself, it was with deep satisfaction that I found nothing but love and regard on every page of this second issue in what I hope will get to be an ongoing title. From Wolverton’s banter as he skillfully evades capture by London’s finest, to the obvious ease with which he overcomes every obstacle, this is the comic that fans of Sunday morning matinees have been waiting for. The creators have even gone as far as to “dreamcast” their titular thief, and have infused the character with DNA from the likes of David Niven (the first James Bond) and Errol Flynn. Although, personally, I’ll always lean more toward Tyrone Powell, but The Mark of Zorro is one of my all-time favorite films.

Michael Stark and Terrell Garrett started out planning Wolverton as a movie, and discovered that production companies tend to regard new and untested properties with a bit of hesitance. But there’s this little secret out there, and not very many people are aware of it… comicbooks can make some outstanding motion picture franchises! With that in mind, Stark (no relation) and Garrett changed gears and followed suit, transforming their screenplay into what we have here: a comicbook that’s a fast moving, fun nod to the classics. There may be areas where the realm of believability is stretched as some of the steampunk elements seem just a bit out of context, but overall the tone of the story stays true to itself.

Visually, a comic like Wolverton has to hold its own on multiple levels. Of course there’s the action, but there are also those steampunk elements, as well as a heavy dose of the supernatural. Individually, those genres can work well, but when you start mixing them together things can get a little complicated for an artist. Jackie Lewis handles his business pretty well, even where some of the action comes across as a little choppy (I’m more than happy to chalk that up to the fact that some of these pages have a LOT of content shoehorned in). The issue opens into a rolling full-page spread as Wolverton evades the Coppers, slides into a bit of a training montage- complete with clockwork fencing dummies, segues over to a ritzy gala, and then brings in the villain- the ever youthful Dorian Gray! That’s a lot for an artist to tackle, jumping from one scene to the next, each carrying a specific tone and set of story beats. In regard to the tonal shifts, Lewis gets a helping hand from colorist Ellen Belmont who helps to set the stage by changing up color palettes. Regarding Belmont’s work, I especially got a kick out of seeing her colors rendered in the old style, all dots and primaries that’s very much in keeping with the overall tone of the book. Between the two of them, Lewis and Belmont are able to establish a cartoony style that continues to give credit to Wolverton’s source material and inspiration.

Wolverton, Thief of Impossible Objects only has one major obstacle that I can see, & that’s the gaps between issues. In the time between issues 1 (of which I was proudly a Kickstarter backer and reviewer) and 2, I’d actually started to think that it was going to be a one-off title. I was more than happy to see the second instalment announced, and continue to hope that it can gain some momentum and see more regularity in its releases. None of that takes away from my personal enjoyment of the comic… I’d just really like to see it get a better footing and some more widespread recognition.

Final Score: 8 (and an artfully purloined one, at that)

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