Anghus Houvouras reviews the third and final issue of The Crow: Skinning the Wolves…
The Crow is one of those endearing concepts capable of creating some truly memorable stories – a supernatural revenge scenario that has yielded some really good comics over the years (and even a couple of good movies). There are, however, times when the whole affair has felt incredibly redundant and overplayed. Fortunately, the mini-series The Crow: Skinning the Wolves has served as an example of how gratifying it can be when all cylinders are firing.
James O’Barr has crafted a dark and brutal story set during the Holocaust. The final chapter sees our reanimated hero leaping forth from the carnage and chaos of the Nazi death camp to exact swift and painful revenge on his captors. Like many of the previous Crow stories, it’s a by-the-numbers affair that benefits greatly from the art by O’Barr and James Terry. Given the setting, one would expect a very grim and terrible setting. And even though we’ve seen this landscape portrayed in comics many times before, it feels particularly ugly here. I found myself reminded of those great old Joe Kubert was comics of the 1970s and 1980s. Stories set in horribly familar settings that jumped off the page. Skinning the Wolves has that kind of creepy vibe.
While you may know the drill, there’s still something gratifying about watching someone brutally carve up Nazis. Part of me wished it got a little more pulpy. I find it difficult to wish a story set in the holocaust would take itself a little less seriously, but i did find myself thinking the whole story may have been better served by a more Tarantino-esque slant. Sometimes The Crow concept seems to take itself so seriously and some Inglourious Basterds style energy would have done a lot to make this a world worth returning to.
As I said, the entire proposition of The Crow is difficult because the audience pretty much knows what to expect. The concept is well established over several mediums. Going forward, I’d like to see The Crow go to some unexpected places: expand the universe, play with the concept a little bit. Right now it feels saddled by the core ideas and rarely deviates from the formula.
In spite of some minor criticisms, I really enjoyed the third issue of The Crow: Skinning the Wolves. It’s an effective and well told revenge tale. O’Barr always does a great job of crafting haunting little tales of suffering that stay with the reader long after conclusion.