Blood Trail: Dawning, by Matt Cochran and Dean Hyrapiet ISBN 9781606903759
Five out of five stars
Myths regarding people turning into animals and vice versa are a constant across cultures and Native Americans are no exception. Sometimes those transformations are benign, for example the Yelis is a coyote figure of the tribes of the Pacific Northwest and when transformed into human form, the Yelis taught humans critical skills. Other stories are more sinister, with humans transforming into vicious creatures capable of killing humans.
This graphic novel is one where the creatures are vicious and generally just an extension of the behavior of their human forms. It is 1867 and there are two tribes of Native Americans in a mountainous region of the Pacific Northwest and while there has never been animosity between them, the chief of one tribe seems determined to create tribal warfare.
The people of his tribe are starving, yet when a member of the other tribe (Walkingtree) walks into their encampment carrying some fresh fish as a gift, the chief reacts to the friendship with hostility. This sparks a series of battles involving transformations where many people are killed, generally needlessly. This leads to the destruction of one of the tribes and the unleashing of a powerful curse that continues into modern times. That curse is also manifested in the inmate Etu, he is so consumed with fear that he prefers death. The story ends with a cliffhanger where the transformation curse is going to be expressed again.
Stories that are based on myths that are slowly fading from the collective minds of the tribes that spawned them are always interesting. I have been reading and studying such stories for decades, considering them an important source of information about how the people lived. Reading this graphic novel led me to once again explore some of the Native American myths of animal spirits and their gods. For others, they will find the story just another good one in the werewolf genre of vicious animals in human form.