Caught My Eye: Thirteen Steps

Guest Post

As promised, this review is over the newly released comic, Thirteen Steps. It is a horror comic at the root, but it’s pretty much unlike any others on the stands today. It follows the story of a man who is a minor league baseball player by day and a werewolf by night. The main hook is that he feels pretty horrible for what he does in his altered state and needs someone who will listen to him and try to understand, but that doesn’t happen until he stumbles on an A.A.-like program called Thirteen Steps, where he can learn to deal with his affliction.

In the last review, I covered a title called GearHead, which was drawn by Kevin Mellon. When I saw this comic in Previews several months ago and noticed it was drawn by the same artist, I was pretty curious. Add to the pot that this is written by one of my favorite artists and is a horror comic and you have a combination that I couldn’t pass up.

Thirteen Steps was created by the artist Phil Hester, who drew the recent series for Marvel called The Irredeemable Ant-Man as well as the popular run on Green Arrow. Ant-Man was a sleeper hit (well, it was to me!), but it got cancelled before its time. I thoroughly enjoyed the art and it made me stand up and take notice of Phil Hester. When I discovered Hester was writing this series with Chuck Satterlee, I was curious to see what he could come up with as a writer.

You get a thorough introduction to everything that’s going on in this first issue. Justin is a minor league baseball player who is trying to break into the sport as well as take care of the family business, running a skating rink. It turns out becoming a werewolf runs in the family and is something he and his have always dealt with. Justin is conflicted about the whole thing to say the least.

The concept and story are compelling. It’s not the fastest-paced comic you might find on the shelf in that there are more character-building moments than there are action scenes, but it’s very well done. As you read it, it gives off a vibe similar to that of X-Files. There are plenty of monster-related pages and elements, but it mainly focuses on Justin and how he’s trying to figure it all out. There is a little humor in there but, as in X-Files, it’s subtle and deals mainly with the situation. If you can’t tell, I’m huge X-Files fan and am excited about the news of the new movie, which will soon begin filming.

Overall, the story is a keeper and I have since added this comic to my pull list. I’m a fan of horror comics and there is a general lack of quality ones on the shelves these days. Hester and Satterlee do a good job with the story and dialogue and I hope they continue.

As with GearHead, Kevin Mellon does a fine job on the art for Thirteen Steps. I get the same vibe from the art for Thirteen Steps as I do from Tony Moore’s work on The Walking Dead. I don’t think it’s simply because both are in black and white, but rather that the way the characters look in general reminds me of it. I have stated in previous reviews that I’m not an artist so my critiques are never going to be very detailed, but I will say that I liked it. I never had to guess what was going on or trying to be conveyed, which sometimes is a problem with artists without a huge number of comics under their belt. The story flowed very well and you could see the emotion in all the characters.

The character designs were pretty cool, too, on the monsters we get to see. The one that sticks out the most is Justin as a werewolf. I dig the look of the werewolf because it’s a little different. Instead of being overly wolfish, the design is such that he looks like a cross between an ogre and wolverine. In general, he’s more “man looking” than a big hulking wolf beast.

Thirteen Steps was a refreshing and enjoyable read. It has lots of good things going for it and I can’t wait to read more. It has something that a lot of comics these days seem to miss, and that is character. I believe this is a mini-series, though I am not sure on the number of comics it will be. I’ve heard that, depending on sales, it could become an on-going, so I ask that if you think you might be interested, to go ahead and give it a try and to ask your retailer to order you a copy and a couple for the store. I am tired of all these good comics of mine getting canceled when they deserve a full, long run! All issues should be available for reorder.