The Wolf Queen, Volume 1: The Rebellion of Petigre
Script: Émilie Alibert and Denis Lapière
Art and color: Adrián Fernandez Delgado
Published: February 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Europe Comics
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure
Length: 56 pages
Humans lay eggs and young wolf-people change genders every full moon in this slim initial volume packed with unique world-building but not much story.
I have to hand it to The Wolf Queen: it has some interesting concepts that I’d be curious to see explored in more depth. The problem is that the world-building here consists largely of throwing out wild concepts without much explanation and then not demonstrating why those oftentimes bizarre elements are crucial to the characters.
The story opens on a teenage boy named Angus being put to death for the crime of selling human eggs… because humans lay eggs in this universe for some reason. Also, that death sentence isn’t quite what it seems; he’s dropped into a strange mist that turns him into a white-skinned zombie-like creature called an immortui and doomed to wander the earth.
Next we’re introduced to rebellious young Petigre, heir to the throne of the wolf people. Every full moon, Petigre switches genders, but she wants to live as a girl despite her father’s wishes. See, it turns out that the wolf people use human eggs to fix their gender one way or the other. The logistics of this biological process are never explained, so the mind can only reel.
Petigre fights with her father and bristles at his insistence that she must be a boy to rule their kingdom. When she learns that her father has decided to lock her up for the next two full moons so that she can be fixed as a boy, she decides it’s time to run away. Her human boyfriend, Rum – raised by the wolf people as one of their own – comes along for the ride and they strike out into the snows of winter.
However, before Rum and Petigre get too far into the wilderness, Rum suggests that they catch an immortui to serve as their pack-mule; the mindless creatures will take any order. This is when Angus comes back into the story, existing in some kind of half-life as an immortui in the sixteen years since the opening scene.
While all of this is happening, elements of the wolves try to instigate war, and the human queen must do everything she can to stop them from taking more than they already receive.
And then after all of that setup, the volume just ends! This first volume felt like a chunk of a much larger story that did not stand on its own. It’s possible that if I could have kept reading, I might have enjoyed the story more, but it was difficult to get invested in a book that seemed more in love with the weirdness of its ideas than good storytelling.
As for the art, it’s colorful and expressive, bringing a light, playful tone to a story that is ultimately about war and succession.
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.