Posted on February 7, 2011 by alanajoli
Available at Amazon.com
I had a couple of sneak peeks at this volume of Tracker as the issues were being released, and I have to say it’s really nice to see it all together in one volume. The Issue 0 preview and Issue 4 just whet my appetite for what looked like a great werewolf story. As it turns out, the story is exactly what those bits and pieces promised.
Alex O’Rourke is one of the best trackers in the FBI — he’s so good that his instincts are the only thing helping the FBI track down Herod, a serial killer whose vicious attacks look more animal than human. Alex gets into the middle of an attack, following a hunch that Herod will be there, and miraculously survives, recovering on the autopsy table. His girlfriend, Tory, is grateful that he survived — especially after having been called in to identify his body — but she still refuses to marry him until he gives up working in the field. Alex’s partner, Jezzie, however, is glad to see Alex back at work, well before he’s supposed to be. While most of the story is about Alex vs. Herod, the push and pull set up at the beginning of the story between Tory and Jezzie has a huge impact on Alex: does he choose the woman he loves? Or does he choose the job — and, thus, the woman who understands him.
As we know from the back cover of the graphic novel, Herod is a werewolf — and, due to surviving the attack, now Alex is, too. Our werewolf expert is the ambiguous Dr. Cyril Tucker, who works for the mysterious Handel Foundation. Dr. Tucker is willing to help Alex — but he also appears to be working behind the scenes with Herod. Tucker tells Alex that the only way for Alex to be cured of lycanthropy is by obtaining some of Herod’s living blood. Alex effectively tells Tucker to shove it… but as he comes to realize that Tucker isn’t making things up, and he starts to rely more and more on his new lupine sense, Alex turns to Tucker for help. This, of course, makes the end of the story — where it’s clear that the Handel Foundation is up to all sorts of no good — a great lead in to further stories in the world.
Without spoiling Alex’s struggle against both his inner beast and against Herod, I will say that the serial killer horror level amps up as the story goes on — and because Herod needs something from Alex, he targets Alex for his own personal terror. Alex has to decide how far he’ll go, and what he’ll sacrifice, to defeat Herod once and for all. There’s plenty of violence, and lots of blood in the art work, as well as detached limbs and a severed head for good measure. The artwork uses an almost sepia cast to the colors, giving it a gritty feel that works for the brutal nature of the story’s violence.
Overall, Tracker works as an origin story. Alex is an appealing hero with the true potential to become an anti-hero at any point when the scales tip in favor of his inner beast. The werewolves here aren’t very wolf-like: the beast draws on strong emotions to change them into a monster, not a forest dweller who’d rather avoid humans than battle them. With a lot of kinder, gentler werewolves in urban fantasy these days, it’s nice to see a hard-core monster style werewolf; even if several of the werewolves featured in the volume aren’t monsters in the human side, they all have the potential to become so if they lose control. That story is an old one — but it hasn’t lost its appeal, and it works particularly well when the hero of the story is a law enforcer, who has to choose whether or not to throw the rules out the window. Definitely check this one out.
Review by Alana Abbott