Last month, Dancy had her one chance and didn't let me down. So I'm on board for Caitlin R. Kiernan's Alabaster: Wolves #2, and although it doesn't have quite the same power as the first issue did, the unfortunately-named lead character Dancy Flammarion and her loud-mouthed blackbird friend are a compelling enough pair to keep the proceedings interesting.
The werewolf fight in the first issue left a wolf-woman named Maisie dead and Dancy wounded and a little sweaty and sick here in the deserted town in South Carolina. The dirty, grimy reality once again defrays any scoffing we might do at somebody named Flammarion, because she's a tired, lonesome, grammatically-challenged teenaged albino girl trying to figure out what to do about an infected wolf-scratch on her shoulder – and her only companions are an uncouth talking bird and a can of chili in the dilapidated old diner. Unless you count her crazy dreams about tentacle-chested demons trying to sway her from her god-given path of righteous monster-slaying.
The resignedly contentious back and forth of Kiernan's dialog between the two is entertaining, as she raids a drugstore for medicine (which she knows nothing about) and then heads to a church to hole up in presumed safety and tend to her injury. Of course, in a world where multi-headed demons are called angels, a church ain't exactly sanctuary anymore – especially not this one, where Maisie's father runs a house full of crazy-ass monsters – goblins, worm-things, what-have-you, maybe they're even aliens.
There are a lot of questions like that about the world we're in – what happened to it, where is everybody, what's the deal with these creatures, how exactly does Dancy Flammarion have a wild reputation that's spreading around beast circles when nobody ever seems to be around anywhere for word to spread by, how did Dancy know Maisie's name last issue, what's the deal with that ugly-ass demon-angel Dancy pissed off, what's so special about her that she can whoop up on a churchload of ghoulish freaks while half-dead on her feat wielding nothing but a big kitchen knife? The biggest question we're left with at the end of Alabaster: Wolves #2 is why in the world is the werewolf girl she so satisfyingly killed last issue back already? It undercuts a bit of the coolness of that story.
Artist Steve Lieber is once again solid with his attention to detail and mood-setting, and thankfully, some of his action panels have more life to them than they did previously, although he's still not quite the best at laying them out. There's one particular panel of Dancy slicing the head off a big snake-beast that is half-badass and half-me trying to figure out how she's apparently doing it with the dull edge of the knife in one swipe. Of course, that might just be me thinking too much about picking a nit.
Overall, it's a solid next effort and I'll certainly be reading the rest of this five-issue miniseries. Dancy is a compelling mix of down-home earnestness, savage ferocity and sullen misery, and we still aren't entirely sure what her angle is. Ostensibly, she's a monster-slayer out to protect reg'lar folk, but is she mistaking a demon for an angel in her holy quest, or is there other stuff going on here? Hopefully, we'll find out soon. There's plenty of promise that it'll be a cool revelation when we do.