James O'Barr created The Crow nearly a quarter of a century ago, born out of personal grief and anger. The original comic book was a tale of perfect vengeance that was adapted in a heart-wrenching film accompanied by the on-set tragic death of its star, Brandon Lee. With that in mind, O'Barr returns to his creation after more than a decade away. The series being so steeped in cataclysm, it made perfect sense that he would set his new story, titles 'Skinning The Wolves', at the site of mankind's greatest atrocity: The Holocaust.
Serving as artist and co-plotter, Jim Terry is in complete lockstep in style with O'Barr. 'Skinning The Wolves' looks, feels, and reads more like a Crow story than most of the schlock that has come out over the last twenty years. It's the best Crow story of any kind since James Vance and Alex Maleev's 'Flesh & Blood' came out in 1996. The new art is very much reminiscent of the original as is the tone. However, there is no whimsy nor reference to sad, British pop music.
What is so important to The Crow and stories like it is the treatment of vengeance. The concept, even in literature, can be difficult for people to stomach. There is a tricky balance. Whatever horrors The Crow might commit, the audience still has to feel as though the acts are justified. When the piece deals in killing Nazis, it is rare to find a voice to dissent. Be it Indiana Jones or Inglourious Basterds, picking sides is hardly difficult.
What is especially good about 'Skinning The Wolves' is the fact that the protagonist remains nameless throughout the story. Little by little, details of his demise are revealed but the fact is that his story, while horrible, was not unique. The same thing happened to many pour souls during this time. He was merely the chosen vessel to enact revenge on the one most directly responsible, a symbol for history's ultimate angel of death. The death dealing and the story are easy to get behind but the backdrop is a bit too on the nose and overused at this point. Still, O'Barr and Terry have crafted a tale that shows The Crow can still be a viable comic property.