Looking back at the first two Wolfsmund volumes after finishing the third and fourth leave me with a greater impression of them both. They put in a lot of thankless work in setting up the story we’ve come to at this point, at the risk of losing potential readers who saw them as nothing more than loosely connected but mostly isolated tales. Gruesome and intriguing tales, yes, but on their own they seemed more and more gratuitous. Volume 3 brought everything together nicely, and volume 4 blows on the sparks to create a full-blown fire.
There’s a multi-faceted attack on the infamous Sankt Gotthard Pass at play here, weaving in some major progress made by Walter, son of Wilhelm Tell, and the brave resistance fighters at his disposal. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time to band together and take down the pass and its hateful bailiff Wolfram. Naturally, it’s not going to be that easy, and it’s something that requires an immense amount of coordination and the ability to trick a true trickster.
It’s a bloody, draining affair, and Mitsuhisa Kuji tells it with increasingly tight artwork and some impressively paneled sequences. Volume 3 might have been a high point for action scenes, from its sword fights to Walter’s death-defying traversal of the mountains, but this volume keeps the bar steady. Just as the various attempts to take over the pass and its guard towers will make you cheer, the brutal, unrestrained retaliation will definitely bring out an involuntary wince or two. Molten lead gets dumped on soldiers climbing ladders, instantly turning their faces into ceramic bowls that look like they weren’t quite ready for the kiln. Kuji doesn’t hold back, and those first couple volumes keep a constant grip on your shoulder, reminding you of the stakes at every turn.
The fierce siege of the Wolf’s Maw is the highlight here, but it’s also nice to see the volume kick off with a little backstory on Wolfram himself. If you hesitated to continue with the series after the first volume or two, it’s worth picking it back up, and I can definitely recommend Wolfsmund to anyone with a strong stomach for violence and bleak atmosphere now that this set of chapters have come to a strong end.
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Story & Art: Mitsuhisa Kuji
© 2012 Mitsuhisa Kuji