Written by: Sean Lewis
Art by: Caitlin Yarsky
Published by Image Comics
Release Date: November 8, 2017
In Coyotes #1, writer Sean Lewis and artist Caitlin Yarsky drag us headfirst into a world that is part underworld, part fairy tale, and part gritty, disturbing reality. The City of Lost Girls is not all fiction. Women and girls go missing on the border every day. Women live in fear of coyotes, and fight them with all that they have. This book gleams of myth and mystery, but the threads of truth and familiarity cement the world and story.
Sean Lewis is tasked with telling multiple stories in this first issue, in addition to weaving exposition and introduction into the narrative. We meet Analia, a girl fleeing trauma and taking shelter in revenge, courage, and perseverance. Lewis weaves together tales of Analia’s past with the overall atmosphere of the book, and draws the reader through an interconnected web of mystery and suspense , while never losing hold on Analia’s red thread.
There is a lot packed into this issue, but it does not seem crowded or convoluted. Characters are introduced naturally and integrated seamlessly into the story, and flashbacks are poignant and easy to follow. For a story that branches off into countless characters, plotlines, timelines, and strains of varying reality, the first issue feels focused and on track. At times, the writing feels a tad heavy handed. With interconnected themes of the City of Lost Girls, real fear, mythology, and revenge, the addition of Red Riding Hood references seems superfluous.
Anaiya, who represents the intersection of grace and light, seems to be not only an orphan, an assassin, a regular girl, but also some sort of messiah figure. This book has a lot of room to spread out in future issues, and the threads introduced in this introductory issue will have more of a chance to breathe and develop independently of one another.
Caitlin Yarsky is the artist on this book – the only artist. She is single-handedly illustrating, coloring, and lettering the entire series, which is quite the workload, but gives the book an edge because everything is unquestionably cohesive. Yarsky brings some interesting experimentation to the page in her lettering, which felt refreshing The lettering style is very casual and the red letters lend a hand to the messiah-figure symbolism, and Analia’s personal experiences. The lower case letters and relaxed style fit the tone of the book, especially because of the young narrator. The Duchess has her own stylized balloons that enhance the flow and tone of the dialogue between her and Anaiya. Hopefully, as we learn more about who the Victorias are, this becomes even more relevant.
From delicate cigarette smoke and detailed makeup to subtle sunsets and everyday, domestic vignettes, Yarsky delivers with skill and authenticity. This introductory issue is brimming with mysterious circumstances, new characters, and a wide range of emotions, but Yarsky beautifully captures each moment and creates a cohesive, artistic issue.
In both writing and art, Coyotes leans into the Mexican culture instead of leaving it ambiguous. The Spanish phrases and setting add an extra layer of reality to the issue. In the same way, both the art and story support Anaiya. There is a lot of cursing, because she thinks it is cool. There are moments that focus on Anaiya’s personal feelings, personality, family life, and friendships juxtaposed with scenes that focus on violence, backstory, and the coyotes. Everything about Coyotes feels authentic and focused, even though there are many facets to the story.
Coyotes is magical, dark, strange, and beautiful. If you are on the hunt for a strong issue with an intriguing blend of mystery, fantasy and badass girls, Coyotes delivers on all fronts. A multi-faceted storyline and gorgeous, nuanced artwork combines to create a world full of real fears and real courage alongside elements of fantasy and horror. This is a story that has a lot of room to grow, and I can’t wait to see what happens next- and find out what is fantasy and what is truly, terrifyingly real.
The Verdict: 9.5/10