Raven Wolf

URL: http://www.mangamagazine.net/manga-and-comics/Raven-Wolf/detail-page/115
Author: K. L. Seunnapha
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Furry, Fantasy, Manga, Sci-fi
Schedule: W/F/Su

While doing some research on this comic, I found that the story was originally part of an ongoing set of novels, and the comics were adapted from them. And as movie directors adapting books, video games, and comic books for Hollywood blockbusters (and the fanboys of the original work) can tell you, adapting requires understanding what should stay in and what should be taken out because some things just don't work on film. However, Raven Wolf is pretty much a straight shot-for-shot translation of the books, going as far as copy/pasting entire passages into caption boxes. Her adaption choices explain both the strengths and the flaws of the work.


In the future, the environment undergoes drastic changes that kill off majority of the humans on Earth. Spirit animals take pity on the humans, and offer to help them if they renounce their destructive ways and take on anthropomorphic forms. Though they initially agree, the groups split into Domestics and Wilds, which as the names imply, one group goes back to living in cities while the other half live in tribes communing with nature. The Domestics' government is concerned with another apocalypse, so they find a boy named Yula who can see the future so they can try to prevent it. Yula is kept in an underground bunker and protected by security guard Teddy Connors and interrogated by Professor Eve Cadrey. Meanwhile, there are signs that the military and other factions might have other plans in mind.

Like I said before, the comic is a straightforward adaption of the novels with little deviation from the original. This leads to scenes like in the beginning, where entire paragraphs are thrown into the pages. However, comics are supposed to use the words and pictures as equal partners to tell the story, And the comic can be particularly wordy at times, which would be more acceptable in a novel, where internal monologues and expository language go without comment, but as a comic doesn't take full advantage of the medium.

Another issue I have with the comic is there are useless scenes that could be cut out without affecting the comic at all. The first chapter is the biggest offender here. We start with a prologue, than an in media res of a shootout, than a flashback to Eve waking up and going to work at the museum, then another flashback of when she worked with Yula. Most of that leadup is completely unnecessary. The prologue and the museum scene both establish that people evolved into animals, making them redundant. The in media res scene feels the need to explain what's happening with dialogue between two characters that should know already. Besides, in media res is most effective when it happens at the beginning, so we can get right into the action before flashing back to what lead to this moment. The museum also seems to exist to introduce Eve (in a “wake up and go to work” sequence, no less) and the other employees, but that information could have been either established in some other way (like an officer reviewing her file, for instance) or introduced later. Afterward, it mainly stays in that time frame except for Chapter 3, which flashes back to Teddy meeting Yula to show their friendship, which is also redundant because in Chapter 2 we see that he's the only person in the whole facility who even knows his name and plays games with him. The reliance on flashbacks indicates inexperience with pacing and plotting, using them as a way to fill in details instead of finding other ways to imply or convey information.

Finally, there are some miscellaneous plot points that don't make sense. First off, Eve is asked to interview Yula because she was told that he responded better to her than any other scientist so far. However, she was never shown interacting with him at all in the previous chapters. In those scenes, she was either watching a video recording or viewing him from behind a one-way mirror. Another inconsistency comes later, when we're told that Yula is not allowed to be exposed to the outside world or it will influence his dreams, muddling his ability to predict the future. Yet later, when they transfer him to another facility, they transport him in a minivan, exposing him to the outside world and leaving him vulnerable to possible attacks. Do windowless, fortified vehicles not exist in the future? Or in the very least, blindfolds?

Underneath all the missteps, there is some promise though. The concept of the story could lend itself to some interesting themes to explore. The role of humanity and the environment, religion vs. science (which is kind of nodded to when Eve and a child get into a conversation resembling the Evolution vs. Creationism debate), and what, if anything, makes humans unique from animals. Also, the culture of the Domestics and the different Wilds tribes sound like they could lend themselves to world building that makes the universe feel more real. Maybe some of this will come up in further chapters, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


Art appears to be completely done digitally. There's some basic blocked in shadows, and backgrounds are usually either blocks of color or phoned-in. The chapter covers are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part the backgrounds are barely exist, and when they do they're there out of mere obligation than as a way of characterizing the cast or the setting.

Being anthropomorphic characters, the cast are easy to tell apart mainly because they're different species, and the author uses the ears and tails to convey emotion, which shows understanding of her stylistic choice to use animals. However, for a relatively serious storyline, the author uses chibi art and exaggerated facial expressions too much. The result makes it hard to take the story seriously, because of how over-the-top it is. It could be because the author is misapplying anime/manga tropes or a possible lack of understanding of subtle changes of expression.

Finally, there are problems with balloon placement. Speech balloons are supposed to point towards the character's mouths, otherwise it looks like people or things are talking when they aren't. It's a minor thing, but it can lead to misconceptions (like in the 4th panel of the last example, where it could be interpreted that Iuana is talking off-panel), but it can easily be fixed.


Raven Wolf has some interesting plotpoints and has potential to be a great comic, but the author needs to consider the limitations and opportunities of the comic medium and use the novels the work is based on as a starting point rather than a screenplay. The art is average, but could be improved and tweaked to match the tone of the story. If the story interests you, you'd be better off reading the novels the author wrote. The comic doesn't do it any favors.


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