Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Courtney Crumrin and the Fire Thief's Tale

Ted Naifeh

The Courtney Crumrin series has been a favorite of mine since I discovered it a few years back. For anyone who's read the series, they'll get what they've come to expect from the series: claw-like hands, beautiful art with Gothic fixtures, and a compelling story featuring the sharp-tongued, jaded witch-in-training Courtney. And this time around, Courtney Crumrin comes face-to-face with werewolves. This 56-page one-shot takes place in Romania, where Courtney is beginning a European tour with her powerful warlock uncle, Aloysius. And much like classic stories of vampires and werewolves in Europe, we find a town full of rash villagers upset and ready to march an angry mob toward a gypsy encampment, since it seems that one handsome young gypsy has been making eyes at a woman who's been spoken for (never mind that she doesn't return the affections of her betrothed). Werewolves are out in full force and various hunting parties are out to kill the wolves while Courtney and Aloysius visit an old friend who happens to be caught in the middle of the action. Events that occur in this book reference things that have previously taken place in the Courtney Crumrin universe that Ted Naifeh has established, but is certainly not vital to the events at hand. It does reward fans with a tug of the heartstrings and perhaps some motivation for the characters involved.

What we get here is a fun little horror/action number with some great exchanges between the mischievous Courtney and her uncle, and some pretty fantastic moments that I'd say are some of the best of the series. There's also a really great origin story for werewolves that feels mythic and really quite creepy. Ted Naifeh is just a really great storyteller and I'm glad that he's focusing his energies on his great creation once more. A

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