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The Wolf In Underpants at Full Speed | Review

Wolf In Underpants at Full Speed coverThe Wolf In Underpants at Full Speed
Writer: Wilfrid Lupano
Artists: Mayana Itoïz and Paul Cauuet
Graphic Universe; $8.99

To kids of a certain age, there is nothing funnier than underpants. Kids of such an age should love Wilfrid Lupano and Mayana Itoïz’s Wolf In Underpants books: short, funny, comics/picture book hybrids that star a wolf who wears underpants and, better yet, feature conflicts resolved by the application of underpants. The third book in what is now a trilogy, The Wolf In Underpants at Full Speed, offers the latest, most unexpected use of underpants as a major plot point.

Lupano and Itoïz first introduced us to their underpants-wearing wolf in the 2019 The Wolf in Underpants, in which we visited a forest where the anthropomorphic animals had built an entire economy around fear of the wolf: Anti-wolf lectures were given, wolf traps and alarms were sold, an anti-wolf brigade was employed, and so on.

When the animals finally came face to face with what they always expected to be a wild-eyed, mangy, howling wolf—striding through the forest on his way to the grocery store, where he buys all his food—they were flabbergasted to find he was a pretty nice guy, his life having been changed by the gift of a pair of underpants. See, the reason he always seemed so out of sorts, the reason he howled so ferociously while sitting alone on his rock, was that his butt was cold; the underpants a kindly owl knitted for him solved that problem.

In At Full Speed, which follows the 2020 The Wolf In Underpants Freezes His Buns Off, there’s a new menace in the forest. Someone has been vandalizing the signs for the upcoming “Fast and Featheriest” bird race, someone who is too much for the anti-wolf brigade—who double as the anti-graffiti brigade—to handle. Can anything be done? The wolf is on the case!

The culprit, pictured on the cover, is a little chickadee who was born with one too-small wing, and whose lifelong dream of winning the race was therefore foiled. It lashes out against the race, the forest, and the world in general. Having been misunderstood himself once, the wolf takes the time to patiently listen to the frustrated chickadee and ultimately comes up with a plan to send the chickadee flying through the air at top speed…without having to use its wing. The solution, it should come as no surprise, involves underpants, albeit in a new and novel application that likely wouldn’t work so well outside of a slightly silly comic.

Like the earlier books in the series, At Full Speed has the basic format of a picture book, but the storytelling within slides in and out of comics, with some pages featuring panels and others constructed so that the “panels” are implied and the action takes place in sequentially-read art. Itoïz draws her extremely cartoony animal characters with a thin line and impressive detail. Many pages deserve long pauses, or at least return readings, in order to take in all the details that the crowd scenes and establishing shots are full of.

As for the moral of the story, there are three of them, delivered directly to the reader in bullet point fashion by the underwear-knitting owl, but it is the first that should have the most resonance with the target audience: “You have to believe in your underpants.”

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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