Best Shots Advance Review: COYOTES #1

Image Comics November 2017 cover
Credit: Image Comics
Credit: Caitlin Yarsky (Image Comics)

Coyotes #1
Written by Sean Lewis
Art by Caitlin Yarsky
Published by Image Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

There’s loads of mythology and violence in Image Comics’ new series Coyotes, but the real takeaway from this book should be the stunning artwork of newcomer Caitlin Yarsky. Bringing an animated bounce to Sean Lewis’s story of an assassin of the supernatural, Coyotes may have its rough edges narratively, but it’s a striking debut for an up-and-coming creative team.

Deep in the heart of Juarez, a young girl stands in the aftermath of a massacre — covered in blood and Day of the Dead makeup, it’s an evocative way to start a book. And “evocative” is definitely the word I’d use to describe Coyotes — this isn’t the kind of book that’s easy to describe, nor is it particularly straightforward in its storyline. Lewis bounces from past to present with a speed that can be difficult to follow, as we see young Analia flash back to the deaths of her mother and sister at the hands of supernatural coyotes. Some characters, like Analia’s best friend Eyepatch, are introduced abruptly with little fanfare, while others, like her sister, are given expansive page space given their somewhat small role in the story. Even Analia’s induction into a mysterious Duchess’s home for coyote hunters is dropped on us with little explanation — something that hopefully will be explored further down the road.

But much of that will be forgiven just based on the strength of artist Caitlin Yarsky, who honestly feels like the second coming of Fiona Staples. Her sense of composition, color and expressiveness is impressive for someone brand-new on the scene, from the way that Analia grasps a sword to the almost swirling patterns she gives the titular coyotes as they pounce on a woman at night. The way that Yarsky draws Analia’s eyes in particular is haunting — despite the character being young, Yarsky adds so much rendering to her heroine’s eyes, showing just how much this character has seen. Granted, there are the occasional weird choices made — in particular, a splash page featuring black-and-white televisions and cassette tapes alongside a sword-swinging Analia — but even those pages are often saved by Yarsky’s masterful use of color.

It’s also this artwork that helps sell Lewis’s dialogue, which will likely prove to be the most polarizing element of this book. He certainly has his excesses — namely, every character using the same swear words profusely, no matter what their age, gender or socioeconomic status — and occasionally his characters will sound stilted or wooden as they give just surface-level emotions. But there are some cool beats here that Yarsky makes work, such as a line about Analin becoming “Dolly Parton with this arrows” and “Beyonce with the darts.” This might also come under more scrutiny thanks to Yarsky’s lettering of the book — there’s a lot that she does well, but the lettering does pull you out of the story thanks to ever-shifting fonts, colors, and even the occasional spelling error.

Yet that’s to be expected for new creators, and if nothing else, you should be checking out Coyotes just for the artistic spectacle. As far as a first issue goes, this does exactly what Lewis and Yarsky should want — it’s so gorgeous that it gives the creative team more time to unspool their storyline in future installments. While the final product may be a little diffuse for more literal-minded readers who want more concrete concepts in their comics, you shouldn’t miss out on what could be a new sleeper hit for Image.

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