Spotlight Review: Cryowulf

Billed as a sci-fi/dark ages retelling of Beowulf, Cryowulf is by Sam Roads and Ben Matsuya.

Cryowulf is set on a long-abandoned space station sited over the black hole Cygnus X1. It centres on a young Apprentice Keeper called Crow. Mourning both her birth-mother and her foster-mother, she dreams of the sleeping folk hero Eortha, who might one day rise from her sleep under the station and save the tribe from prowling Grendel.

But will the help of her level-headed sister Raven and her pugnacious friend Puffin be enough to overcome the forces that threaten Crow, her tribe and the entire station?

And who will save them from Grendel?

The first three issues are available now.

The first thing that strikes you is the scale of it all. Galaxies and planets swirling with some fantastic art. Then the story brings you in tight as we meet some of our key characters.

This first issue builds things up really well. There are castes and there are rites. I like the chafing at some of these rite that the young ones have. There are those who are more serious about their roles, and this bounces off those who don’t really well. There are also those who you instantly don’t like. The art and the writing really takes you there, and when they turn up, you hate them.

The build-up to the appearance of Grendel is brilliantly done – in the darkness, with the flickering lights. We see the carnage of what has been done, and then, finally at the end of the issue we see it.

Issue #2 bring the story forward really well. The quest is on, and those who are going on it are chosen. Obviously there are power plays here, and these lead up to the quest to find the warrior to defeat the Grendel. I like the way it was built up, and the other language was well done – long enough for you to feel the frustration of those who don’t speak it. There is a lot of hope here, and this works really well as we move into issue #3.

The third issue adds more to the story. We get a new member to the part and the Grendel makes a reappearance. The beginning starts slow, but the pace gets quicker. Things also open up with the location – with birds and more open spaces. This was excellently done, and I like the tension in it all.

This is an excellently told story, with some brilliant dialog. The Grendel is an excellent monster, and the look of it all is really well done.

This is a tightly told story and you find yourself rooting for the right people. At the end of each issue there are excellent hooks that get you into the story and looking forward to the next issue – as I am for issue #4.

The art is amazing, with some brilliant colouring. The dark scenes are tense and well laid out, to the extent of the later parts in the open blast with relief. The scenes with the rites are excellent and have the right feels.

I would strongly recommend this series – both in print and digitally.

You can get Cryowulf from Sam Road’s site here

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