The end of Wolfsmund volume one seemed fully prepared to thrust the audience into a central narrative surrounding Wilhelm Tell and his son as they attempt to get through the ruthless pass known as Wolfsmund. Rather than continue with that specific thread, however, volume two goes to further lengths to build up the titular barrier station and the tensions surrounding it. While I was ready to move on from the anthology-style format of the first book, the follow-up makes it flow a bit more naturally, easing the reader in for what’s shaping up to be a brutal ride.
The first story here concerns pub owner Hans and his greedy wife, Eva. Though Hans makes a meager pittance, Eva wants nothing but the best luxuries the world has to offer. She can’t even proudly display her coveted jewelry, but that doesn’t stop her from demanding more, and Hans will go to extreme lengths to satisfy her despite her outward cruelty. When it turns out he’s been selling out rebels to the Duchy of Austria’s men, he’s forced to flee from the enemies he’s made, pushing him out of the territory and toward that dreaded barrier station.
As one would expect, good fortune rarely comes to those who attempt to pass through Wolfsmund while hiding something. Even the smallest suspicion won’t make it past the brilliant Wolfram and his ruthless border guards, but all the grisly deaths in Wolfsmund gradually build to something larger. One event in particular sparks another level of intrigue, but it wouldn’t do to spoil it here.
Mitsuhisa Kuji’s artwork is once again bold and satisfying. Those wanting more sex and violence in their manga will get plenty of both here, as characters are alternately tortured and pleasured, depending on what page you happen to be on at the time. It can get pretty nasty, especially near the end of the second story. Kuji’s real strong suit is depicting expressive characters at their wit’s end, clearly desperate enough to do whatever it takes to get beyond the notorious barrier station.
By the time Wolfsmund vol. 2 came to a close, it felt kind of like I was in the same place as when I finished the first. Each tale within is certainly gripping, and they’re doing a better job of establishing the world, but I hope the next volume continues where this one left off rather than circling back around again for another loosely related trek through the mountains.
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Story & Art: Mitsuhisa Kuji
© 2010 Mitsuhisa Kuji