Some of you may recall a little volume of short work by Stephen King, Dan Simmons, and George R.R. Martin called THE SKIN TRADE. (It was also published as a volume in the NIGHT VISIONS series, so you might remember it more by that title.) The anchor piece was Martin’s tale of werewolves. It wasn’t his finest, but for some reason, Avatar Press thought it would be a good idea to adapt it to comics.
Sadly, it doesn’t fare better in this medium. Adapted by Daniel Abraham, it is the tale of a private investigator, Randi, who takes on a case presented by her childhood friend, Willie. A young handicapped woman has been murdered, and since she was a friend of Willie’s, he desperately wants Randi to find out who did it, and if she was savaged by animals or not.
For some reason, this triggers a memory in Randi’s mind. It would seem that her father, a cop, was savaged to death by an animal when she was a kid. She has a special interest in this case, and she starts hunting for answers.
Granted, it sounds like it could be an intriguing story, but Martin and Abraham just can’t escape the clichés of the detective story. Randi goes to her uncle, who is still on the force, and he tells her a bunch of lies. The same goes for the weathered journalist who also seems to be in on the cover up. She goes through all the motions that Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, and all of their ilk went through before her. It doesn’t help that there’s a lot of bad dialogue. For example, when her uncle tells Randi that her father wouldn’t approve of this, she says, “My father’s dead, Joe. And I’m a big girl now.” One practically feels like the comic book is going to fade into a commercial break at that point.
The only interesting part of the story is Willie’s interaction with Mrs. Juddiker. Apparently, he’s a bill collector, and he’s trying to get his money out of this mother of two who has to deal with the deadbeat she’s married to. It’s funny how he concludes their business: by loaning her money and a pair of scissors, the latter in case a credit card application came in the mail. He also seems to know a lot more about the “animals” than he’s letting on to Randi.
And look what we have here: Mike Wolfer does the art. (Place werewolf joke here.) It looks like he’s learned a few new tricks. While he’s a kick ass artist, emotions are always hard for him to convey (except for rage). Here he showcases his newfound abilities. And holy shit, look at that awesome cover!
All in all, SKIN TRADE #1 shows a lot of promise for the future of the series, but as a starting point, it falls short of the mark by far.
SKIN TRADE #1
Written by George R.R. Martin and adapted by Daniel Abraham
Illustrated by Mike Wolfer
Published by Avatar Press