Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ferals Volume 2 (2013)

I’ve heard True Blood called Twilight for (horny) adults. I haven’t read the True Blood comics, but I have read IDW books, and they tend to shy away from sexually explicit material. If that is the case, then perhaps Ferals is the true True Blood of comics, except way gorier. At its essence, Ferals is a What If…? where Jason Stackhouse actually got turned into a were-whatever in Hotshot. There’s wannabe Vikings in this one too, and a Russell Edgington stand-in, but they’re all werewolves in this version. The details are unimportant. It’s a campy, ultraviolent supernatural soap opera with a lot of boning.

This is where the spoilers (for the book, not True Blood) start. I was wary of jumping into this trade about seven months after reading the last, but there’s a very quick recap of the previous volume in the first few pages of dialogue, and none of it matters anyway. Jason Stackhouse survived the bloodbath that closed the previous season, and the surviving F.B.I. agent recruits him to investigate other towns where traces of ferals (werewolves) have been found. He’s saddled with a female partner and a cover identity, so aside from three characters (two quite minor) and a premise carrying over, this might as well be an themed anthology installment rather than a continuing narrative.

Jason Stackhouse is a bit more of a bona fide protagonist this time, since he’s been properly initiated and is basically just going by the numbers in a similar situation to the first volume. Again, the details don’t matter. Nobody is meant to care about these characters. Everyone in the book is simply fodder for fucked-up turns involving either rough carnal episodes or savagery inflicted upon the human/lupine body. There’s also a nice big blockbuster finale that would break the budget of a TV show, so I guess that validates it as a comic book experience, but the story itself is as ephemeral and the choices as arbitrary as the last several (bad) seasons of the vampire show (or the worst of the zombie show.)

Gabriel Andrade continues to be one of Avatar's best artists, drawing out the maximum allowable entertainment value from all the writhing bodies and werewolf viscera. I suspect he'll be recruited for something higher profile sooner rather than later. David Lapham trades in audacity that keeps the reader engaged during the act of reading, but the unsatisfying cliffhanger endings and the emphasis on plot developments over characterization color the lasting perception of the series. I think I'll give it one more "season" to see if it's going to go anywhere, mostly out of love for werewolves and softcore porn, as opposed to the merits of the work taken objectively.

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