New To You Comics #76: Misogyny, War, And Forgiveness In ‘Coyotes’ Vol. 2

by Brendan M. Allen

Tony and Brendan have very different tastes in comics. Tony loves his capes, super powers, and sci-fi. Brendan tends to stick to horror, noir, and weird indies. Occasionally, their paths cross, but like most readers, they tend to stay in their own lanes.

New To You Comics is here to break up the pattern a little. Tony will throw some of his favorites at Brendan, and Brendan will hit Tony with some of his. Every NTYC title is brand new to one of them. Every once in a while a title will land with both of them. Most of the time they can find some common ground, but even when they don’t, it’s fun to watch them go at it. Brendan fights dirty. Tony kicks like a mule. 

This week, Brendan and Tony go back to finish up Image Comics’ Coyotes, by Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky. Here’s what Image says about Volume Two:

‘The second (half) of this critically lauded allegorical series is a fascinating look at misogyny, war, and forgiveness.

Red is tasked with ridding her home of men who have donned animal pelts that turn them into woman-hunting wolves. Returning from her first war with these wolves, she works to bring more women to safety — and to slaughter more wayward men. But when she meets a group of women who challenge her ideas and her core self, she questions the person she’s become.’

Brendan Allen: Wow. I know this is my pick, and I’ve read it before, but this is the kind of work that hits you every time you read it. So many levels of allegory, so topical for so many current events. Man, I love this book. We say stuff all the time like ‘horror is the perfect vehicle for satire,’ and books like Coyotes and Infidel are the works that prove the rule. 

Tony Thornley: You and I talked long about the last volume, and what the allegories mean, the topical content, stuff like that. We even reached out to Lewis to see what research he’d done and whether he’d involved a sensitivity reader. It was that dense and topical.

This book just blows that one out of the water. The satire and metaphor just rules, and it’s a damn good horror fantasy story to boot. Just… wow.

Brendan: There’s one spot in the dialogue, where the giant wolves are grilling one of the men who was captured and allowed to live among the women, where the wolves ask ‘How’d their forgiveness feel?’ The dude responds ‘Good. It felt kind.’ But then he adds ‘I still liked it more when I was in power.’ 

That, right there, sums up a lot of the problems with cis white men and gender issues, race issues, general equality issues… Yeah, we know what we’re doing is wrong, and it feels good to make things right, but not as good as sitting in the big chair at every table. 

Tony: Good hell, this line just summed up the book. It’s about hate, and power and the evil that men do. These mythical wolves representing that is such an apt way to make them scary. The capitalism and racism allegories take the back seat here to just raw power, particularly the power men hold, and the sacrifice needed to fight it.

Dammit, it’s still just haunting me.

Brendan: I love every book that I put up on the block, but every once in a while, we do one that’s really, really important. Infidel and Coyotes are both up there for me. Entertaining as hell, cool art and all that, but the messages of both books are just so damned significant. 

Tony: Beyond that the plot is just plain cool. The abuelas from the first volume are actually mythic protectors of Mother Earth commissioned by Gaia. Their main mission is to prevent the evil of the elemental wolves from consuming the world. And the wolves have awoken… Even without the allegorical elements of the story, that just rules. Add Lewis’ strong characterization and it’s a pretty winning story.

The only thing I could think of as a downside is the pacing, because this does not let up, and barely gives you time to breathe. And trust me, for the story being told I don’t actually think that’s a mark against it. Just don’t expect this to give you time to slow down or that you can sit down and start reading it before bed. You will read it in one sitting.

Brendan: It’s really easy to get lost in it. If they hadn’t included the covers as chapter stops, you wouldn’t really have a clear picture of where each issue ended before the next one picked up. 

Caitlin Yarsky pulled both art and color throughout the entire series, and she absolutely nailed it to the wall. We talked about her character work in the first arc, and touched a little bit on the body horror. The transformations are something else. In this volume, she gets to smash four giant wolves up into one massive wolf-god monster, and that is some next level freaky shit. Loads of different ways that could have been done, but she had the wolves devouring each other in order and then morphing into something straight out of your nightmares. 

Tony: Oh definitely. The horror and the action both are just very cool. The layouts also have this way of capturing a very wide scope, opening up the middle of the pages into horrors, or desert vistas. She’s just got a great eye for design.

Brendan: There are also really cool little details in the clothing, and the weapons, hair textures… The wolves all each have their own things going on. That fire wolf has color and patterns in his fur that emulate burning embers. One of the others has a gladiator-like helmet with detailed etchings. Very distinct and memorable from each other. The book is gorgeous. 

Tony: Agreed. And her color work really pops too. She uses color in some very cool ways that create atmosphere and build tension. In one scene late in the book, the background gradually shifts from black to pink. It’s subtle at first until the background is all pink and one of the wolves pops out. You wouldn’t think pink would be such a tense color but the way Yarsky uses it? Dang.

Brendan: I think you’ve already tipped your hand, but where did you land on this second half of Coyotes?

Tony: I liked it. It’s not disturbing or really truly scary, but it’s haunting in a way that allegorical horror isn’t often enough. I would say this is a must read.

Brendan: Word. What’s up for next week?

Tony: We’re going to head back to the Valiant Universe and check out the relaunch of one of their most interesting characters (and I think my personal favorite of their pantheon)- 2015’s Ninjak V1 by Matt Kindt and Clay Mann!

%d bloggers like this: