Coyotes, Vol. 2
Writer: Sean Lewis
Artist: Caitlin Yarsky
Publisher: Image Comics
In the stunning conclusion to Sean Lewis’ and Caitlin Yarsky’s Coyotes, Red, Duchess and the Victorias team up with the Southern Abuelas to end the terrorizing reign of men once and for all. Collecting issues #5-8, Coyotes, Vol. 2 follows Red as she chases after men who have donned ancient wolf pelts in order to hunt, rape and murder women and girls. The chase leads her straight into war with beings who have existed as long as Earth itself. It also introduces her to a group of women with a vastly different approach to war. Led by Olive, The Hammer of Eleos, these women push for forgiveness rather than punishment.
This contrast creates a striking conflict as Lewis and Yarsky barrel toward the conclusion of the Coyotes series. It also calls the concept of justice into question, which is a fascinating addition to this already richly-textured vengeance story.
It must be said that Coyotes is an ideal read in the era of #MeToo. This series deifies rage and mythologizes the power of young girls who refuse to be victims. Red and the Duchess, in particular, refuse to accept that men can do whatever they want; they dole out punishment to the men who have raped, murdered or maimed their sisters, mothers, friends, or lovers. Meanwhile, they take guidance from the old women who are tasked with keeping the wolves at bay, yearning for a day when they might be free of the slaughter.
Quite frankly, this series is gorgeous. Lewis and Yarsky have crafted a mythos that we desperately need. Combining several mythologies and embellishing with new details, this creative team has offered readers a new figure from which they can draw strength: Red. Heralded as the champion of the Victorias and the Abuelas, Red takes her trauma and turns it into fuel for vengeance. However, she also maintains her ability to offer sanctity to the women who cannot — or will not — do the same.
Coyotes is a story about sisterhood, in every sense of the word. It is also a comic that digs its teeth into patriarchal violence and allows girls to overthrow that. It allows them to win, although they also suffer horrible losses in the war.
Throughout all eight issues of Coyotes, Lewis’ writing is amplified by Yarsky’s illustrations, which seem to pull inspiration from classical paintings as well as contemporary comics. In Coyotes, Vol. 2, the colors are particularly well rendered. Fire and blood contrast against the desert at night, reminding readers of what’s at stake and also highlighting the more gruesome elements of the story.
Likewise, the details in each panel are incredibly striking. One of the strongest elements of Yarsky’s art is her perspective. There are moments when all we see on a page is Red, from the shoulders up, steadying herself to fight. Other times, we see tiny details brought to the forefront of a smaller panel, bringing it to life. In each case, the impact is remarkable. Yarsky has a way of capturing movement that makes scenes flow while also communicating an intense sense of urgency, especially during battles.
Lewis’ writing perfectly pairs with Yarsky’s art. His characters have distinct voices and his Coyotes mythos maintains its structure across all eight issues. The pacing of this series is wild, but Lewis keeps the story tight and balances the exposition well. We learn the history of the world through flashbacks as well as dialogue, but it’s rare that anything feels too heavy-handed.
Frankly, there is just one glaring issue with Coyotes that feels hard to get past: the inclusion of Coffey, a detective-turned-ally, feels like a cop-out against the rest of the story. He abandons his wife and daughter to help the Victorias in their fight against the wolves. Each time he’s on the page, it feels like Lewis screaming, not all men! Quite honestly, Red’s story would have more of an impact if she weren’t constantly seeking his help. His “funny pet” status amongst the other women is also irksome.
Despite Coffey’s unnecessary presence, Coyotes is a strong story with a timely plot. It’s worth a read.
Samantha Puc is an essayist and culture critic whose work has been featured on Bitch Media, The Mary Sue, Bustle, and elsewhere. She mostly writes intersectional pop culture analysis with a particular focus on representation of LGBTQ and fat characters in fiction. Samantha is the managing editor at The Beat, as well as the co-creator and editor-in-chief of Fatventure Mag, an outdoors zine for fat creators who are into being active, but not into toxic weight-loss culture. She lives in Rhode Island with her partner and cats.