The best science-fiction and horror stories always seem to be more about being human than any focus on the supernatural elements may make it appear on a surface reading, and I suppose that goes right back to tales like Beowulf. These elements: becoming a werewolf, being a vampire, being a superhero serve as exaggerated stressors that amp up what essentially boil down to very human choices. What better way to analyse free will than with a character like Gary Hampton who is forced to become something against his will? He must search for what it means to him; this book is all about the choices he must make. In The Astounding Wolfman Vol 1 Kirkman piles it on – he really puts his characters through the wringer and we wait to see how they will fare – whether they will emerge out the other side, if not unscathed, then at least with some integrity or some of themselves intact. None of the characters here comes off as a cipher purely used to drive the plot onwards; you understand that each has their history which is playing into the events that we see unfolding. The art has a simple clarity and is very kinetic and fresh. The whole story is paced very well and you can tear through the story in no time at all. This first volume leaves Gary in a very interesting place and it will be good to see where Kirkman takes it from here – how he continues to take it forward and how he maintains the considerable momentum he achieves here.