are very few ways to write anything implausible, especially
when it comes to comic books. In an industry whose main revenue
comes from stories about men with radioactive spider powers
or aliens with the ability to move moons, it's damn difficult
to make anything sound impossible, at least in context.
is one of the most implausible comics I've ever read, and
yet, I find that I like it despite the implausibility of its
main premise. Greg Haworth is an up-and-coming FBI agent who
receives a slightly panicked message from his ex-partner Brian
Forsythe now working in the Indian Crimes Unit in Arizona.
Shortly after, Forsythe disappears and bodies without skin
start to show up in the Four Corners, as well as back at Washington.
Forsythe may be dead, a victim of this serial killer, maybe
the killer himself, but either way, Haworth has to find him.
in his investigation is the local tribal police (re: the one
sheriff for miles), embodied in the character of Ann Adakai,
a Native Navajo who understands the traditions being violated
by whoever is killing these people.
skinwalker is a term that applies to the "witches"
of the Navajo; they would wear animal skins in attempts to
garner power from the pelts' original owner. No one has ever
done it to a human before, and it appears that whoever has
tried the ceremony and started this killing spree has succeeded.
He or she can swap skins whenever the need arises (and it
does arise, often).
to help the image of her people and to stop this defilement
if her culture, not to mention the fact that hey, there's
a lot of dead bodies near and around the Navajo reservation,
Adakai decides to join Haworth in this unofficial manhunt
for a murderer with a penchant for wearing other people's
birthday suits. As they get closer to the truth of how and
why this skinwalker is operating, Haworth and Adakai discover
just how far reaching this case is.
my main complaint about the comic; it's just so illogical.
The premise of a person being able to skin a person, then
skin himself or herself, and then wear the skin of the other
guy borders heavily on ludicrous. How a person can skin himself,
even with the aid of acupuncture or drugs (both of which are
mentioned in the story) -- I cannot believe that it would
even be possible. The killer never takes any ill effect from
switching from skin to skin, despite the fact that without
the skin, the human body is so ripe for bacteria that a person
would probably die quick and painful if exposed to open air.
In addition, the very fact the killer can put on the skin
of anyone and essentially be them, is a decent enough stretch
of my capacity to understand the dynamics of story.
Nunzio Defillipis and Christina Weir, write a pretty decent
crime comic. It's not on the level of Greg Rucka or Ed Brubaker,
but Skinwalker is a great example of "good idea, bad
execution." The premise of a man being able to skin himself
and wear someone else's skin is so far science fiction-ish
or fantastical that it upsets the flow of the rest of the
book. The cop situations are handled very well and you can
see that Defillipis and Weir are quite good at writing engaging
dialogue; the exchanges between Haworth and Adakai are interesting
and it helps to establish the characters. Adakai has a chip
on her shoulder and seems to take offense at whatever Haworth
says, while Haworth seems to shift between not caring what
Adakai says, to depending on her, to becoming friends. They
were very real characters.
that the skinwalking phenomenon is introduced to the story,
which is implausible and illogical, subtracts from the partner
dynamic, as well as from the general story. The plot would
have been better served if the skinnings had been relegated
to simple serial killings, and not some hodge-podge of Navajo
the writers did for Skinwalker shows in the details.
In between chapters, there are small educational bits that
take up a page, explaining small bits of Navajo culture and
tradition. They're not important to the story, but they help
to enrich the reading.
is great and I very much like Brian Hurt's style; he has a
good eye for gender differences, facial expression, and he
sets his scenes very well, always switching up from one angle
to a different angle. It was also noted in the introduction
by Greg Rucka that Hurt is the only man who knows how to draw
Native American women, and I can see that it's very true.
He is an all-around good artist and his pencils are one of
the reasons I'm fond of the book.
can suspend your disbelief long enough to accept the story
elements that do not make an inordinate amount of sense, and
simply enjoy the thriller aspects of the script, Skinwalker
is a good comic.