Wolfenstein, Vol. 1
Dan Watters (Writer), Piotr Kowalski & Ronilson Freire (Artists), Brad Simpson, Greg Menzie & Thiago Ribeiro (Colorists), Jonathan Stevenson (Letterer)
December 19, 2017
Comics that tie into video games have been a part of the comics landscape for years. One of the biggest games of the year, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, has made waves in the gaming industry this fall, and it finally got its prequel in this new graphic novel from Titan Comics. Written Dan Watters, with art by Piotr Kowalski and Ronilson Freire, Wolfenstein, Vol. 1 has its ups and downs.
The book begins with a great opening, showing how the Nazis winning WWII changed the cultural landscape immediately. Families fleeing for safety, cities destroyed–it really did a great job setting up the stakes. The book focuses partly on a place called Sanctuary. A small town that as the name suggests gives shelter to those who are hiding from the Nazis. This town is watched over by a character everyone calls Professor. She keeps them safe and runs the place. This part of the story was engaging and pulled me in; I wanted to know more about Sanctuary and the people who lived there. But as the comic continued that hope was shattered. The Nazis come in and demolish the camp; the story quickly shifts from the survivors of Sanctuary to the Professor and a strange woman she met trying to negotiate for her land back.
Wolfenstein quickly turned into a Journey into the Center of the Earth-type plot, full of flashbacks and a quick cameo of Terror Billy. I lost interest as soon as this comic took that turn away from Sanctuary and went into gene-splicing of ancient aliens to create a pure Aryan race. I was lost. I put the book down, and it took a week and a half to come back to it, only for me to realize that the story tries really hard at one point to be Seeds of Destruction. Watters’ story aims to be a hard-hitting adventure into taking down and killing Nazis, which I am here for. Certain parts really did pull me in and made me genuinely want to turn on my PS4 and do my part for the resistance. But overall, I found the story lost its spark as soon as we dove into that hole.
Now the art, on the other hand, is lovely. One of the best scenes was when Emile wakes up in the middle of the night to find the Nazi Commander Hartman sitting and brooding over his experiment. The linework is clean, which adds to the eeriness of the scene. The colorists–Simpson, Menzie, and Ribeiro–did an amazing job, and the blues, greens, and inky blacks add to the dark atmosphere that pulls you into every word they are saying. Piotr Kowalski and Ronilson Freire did amazing work on this book. All the fight scenes and especially the toppling of the castle had great movement and scope.
Titan’s Wolfenstein, Vol. 1 is a fun Nazi-killing adventure that, in my personal opinion, could’ve had a much stronger story if they stayed the course the book started with. The prequel to one of this year’s most popular games, Wolfenstein, this is a comic with immensely enjoyable art. I just wish the story had sucked me in as well.