Apr 5 2012 3:00pm

There Can Be Only One: Alabaster: Wolves

Alabaster: Wolves issue #1 cover by Greg Ruth

As I’ve edited Caitlin Kiernan’s upcoming return to comics, Alabaster: Wolves, I’ve consistently struggled to find analogies by means of which to introduce the series — and its protagonist, the very young and very dangerous Dancy Flammarion.

If you like Buffy Summers, you’ll probably like Dancy. She’s a girl in her late teens, and she’s got that same gritted-teeth determination. But Dancy’s not pretty, or bubbly. She’s got no superpowers — just a knife and a harsh celestial master. She’s got the start of a sly sense of humor, but no glib Whedonesque quips.

If you like Hellboy, you’ll probably like Dancy. She fights monsters, and fights to keep herself from becoming one. She can hold her own in a roomful of werewolves. But Dancy’s not a demon, and she doesn’t have a team or government funding, and if she’s got an apocalyptic destiny, well, it’s keeping itself scarce for now.

If you like Arya from Game of Thrones, you’ll probably like Dancy. She’s ruthless and desperate, and she takes shit from no one. But Dancy is older, and wearier; she has no castle and little childhood to miss.

If you like River Tam from Joss Whedon’s Firefly, you’ll probably like Dancy. She’s a kind of crazy, or she might be, or she’s afraid she might be, and her hair is always in her eyes, and she’s always a step ahead. But Dancy isn’t a supergenius. She doesn’t need a trigger word to fight, and no big brother will ever swoop in to comfort her. Dancy can’t kill you with her brain: that’s why she carries that great big knife.

The truth is, there’s no one quite like Dancy. As Dancy’s creator, Caitlín R. Kiernan, put it, “She’s the only her in comics” — which is, I guess, something Dancy does have in common with Buffy and Hellboy and all the truly great icons: she’s one of a kind.

Dancy’s not pretty. She’s not sweet. She’s wary and weary, determined and damaged; and she’s spent long enough fighting her way through darkness and weirdness that they’ve begun to cling around her like a lingering stench. She stares out from Greg Ruth’s covers, equal parts haunting and haunted. She’s not a clean-lines-and-shiny-colors kind of comic-book hero: under the hands of artist Steve Lieber and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, she’s scratchy ink and mottled watercolor, all rough edges and half-dried blood.

The Dancy Flammarion you’ll see in the pages Alabaster is rooted in traditions; she carries echoes of other stories and characters and archetypes, and of her previous incarnations in Caitlín R. Kiernan’s prose. But at the same time, she’s something genuinely new: ready to rise and cut a new path through rehashes and wan copies.

And who needs super-strength when you’ve got that kind of power?

Alabaster: Wolves issue 5 cover by Greg Ruth

Rachel Edidin is an editor for Dark Horse Comics.

Mitchell Pearson
1. Mitchell Pearson
i like the top one. the bottom one is good but the top definately peaks my interest more.
geoffrey h goodwin
2. ghg
Oh my goodness, that cover is so beautiful. Thanks for this, Rachel, and thank for everything else! I haven't been this into a new title in, well, maybe ever. It's wonderful that all of this has come together. Caitlin, like you describe with Dancy, isn't like anyone else either. So now there's only one Caitlin in comics again!
Irene Gallo
3. Irene
I love Greg Ruth’s work...come to think of it, I kinda love Greg Ruth period. It's great when an artist is as nice as their drawings are powerful.
Mitchell Pearson
4. Mihai A.
Greg Ruth is a great artist and his talent can easily be seen here too.
It seems that Dancy Flammarion resembles one character or another somehow. I admit that even for me by the sounds of it she reminds me more of Temple from Alden Bell's "The Reapers are the Angels". But as I don't find these type of associations too much because they do not work in favour of a new character, I am looking forward to discover Dancy Flammarion just for Dancy Flammarion.
Mitchell Pearson
5. Scott Benenati
Does anyone know which of Caitlin's stories Dancy appeared in before?
Mitchell Pearson
6. Darla cleo
Anyone know if thise will turn into an on going or stay a mini.. I don't think 5 issues will be enough to meet our needs :(.

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