Review by Karl Verhoven
Native American Red Wolf was an almost whimsical introduction to a 1970 Roy Thomas Avengers story, of all places, after which his 19th century ancestor was launched in a short-run series. In the decades since, appearances by either have been few and far between. Nathan Edmondson’s take on the character merges and reconfigures both.
As Man Out of Time opens, Red Wolf is a 19th century Sheriff. How this occurred in a community openly bigoted about his heritage is an anomaly never explained, but it establishes the character as upright and with the skills needed to survive in such an environment. How well will they serve him, though, when he’s transported to the New Mexico of the 21st century? Pretty well, actually, despite the disorientation of having moved 150 years through time.
Edmondson’s script is very good, having a seasoned dramatist’s polish, and matched by the confident storytelling of artist Dalibor Talajić. As a genre the Western is long dead, but 21st century television has generated modern day equivalents that are Westerns in all but name (Banshee, Justified), and it’s within these genre tropes that Edmondson works. He highlights Red Wolf as a man out of time, moving beyond not knowing what a car is to smaller convincing details such as unfamiliarity with the styrofoam cup. He’s thrown into a plot echoing that of the dangers he faced in the 19th century, and lives by a maxim imparted by his mother when he was a teenager: “The world is changing quickly. You may not always understand it, but right and wrong will never change”. She also warned “You are not meant to right all the wrongs in the world”, but everyone chooses the advice they take, and that’s a maxim he ignores.
If his wikipedia entry is to be believed, Talajić is surely the only comic artist ever to have taught the clarinet professionally, and that’s far from his only talent. He is an extremely refined artist, figurative and clear, and was apparently guided on cultural authenticity by Jeffrey Veregge, who also produced the striking covers to the individual comics gathered here.
Unfortunately, Man Out of Time is all there is of this Red Wolf series, and while some plots are concluded others remain floating in the wind, and that’s a shame. It’s a sort of Season One of a cancelled TV show. Go with the flow, because what there is is worth reading on its own merits. Stop Press… Red Wolf is next seen in Occupy Avengers, but is barely the same character.