Revival has just ended the first season of its run and has proven that the rural noir niche is here to stay. Tim Seeley has been writing and drawing independent titles for a number of years now, and his most successful works include Hack/Slash, G.I. Joe vs Transformers and Lovebunny and Mr Hell. He has a propensity for the dark fantasy world of werevolves, vampires and now zombies. He is joined by his long time friend Mike Norton, who is known for his artwork on Gravity, Runaways, and the digital webcomic Battlepug. Revival is set in rural Wisconsin and features the discovery of revivers; these are folk that have returned to life and are causing extreme confusion and turmoil. As you can imagine, a small town is unlikely to take kindly to the walking dead, and over the past year, a number of plot developments and themes have come to maturity. Our main protagonists are a police officer, Dana, and her sister Em, who is one of the recently returned. This particular issue completes the stories of many a character, and deals with a hostage situation featuring the Check brothers, who are black market reviver organ traders.
Tim and Mike have successfully created a unique and intimate environment, revolving around the growth of a reviver population in a small town of nervous and honest people. Some are downright scared, others are ultra-violent, those that manipulate the situation and then the ones who suffer at the hands of the revivers. It is a difficult situation to truly comprehend and Tim does an amazing job at exposing the subtle undertones of racism and inciteful fear a reviver brings. His writing is succinct and portrays his message simply; an example of this is the revelation of hidden racism from Dana & Em’s father. The rest of the issue focuses on an Em’s escape attempt from the Check brothers, which is largely portrayed by Mike Norton. Em has finally had enough and becomes enraged at being mistreated as a reviver, as she sets her escape from incarceration. The emotional complexity of Em’s anger and regret is well juxtaposed against the anxiety and insecurity of the brothers through the art. Em looks fantastic in these pages, because her face and clothes are sullied with dirt, and looks very realistic and consistent throughout. Combine the facial expressions with the emphatic physical violence, and you have a well played out plot, expressing the themes described above. Mark Englebert’s colouring keeps the book bright and clear, even during the twilight hours. Though the subject matter is dark, the colour palette shines a lighter disposition on the art.
It is hard to develop a solid foundation for a comic that is engrossed in a secluded and unique society. Rural Wisconsin is an unknown quantity and bringing in the undead, automatically invokes well-known tropes of zombies. However is it an incorrect assumption as these particular walking dead are intelligible and intelligent. It is thoroughly enjoyable watching the origin of the species unfold, and how they adapt to the world around them. The themes of exclusion and xenophobia are quite apt and Seeley successfully applies them to the indigenous people. This does not just apply to the fearful citizen, but in the acceptance of Em within her family, the development of inherent racism to an asian police adviser, and racial violence through the eyes of a child. It is an impressive feat to depict such various dimensions of a well covered subject matter. The final panels of the book culminates the stories of the supporting cast of revivers, victims of violence and family. Dark and twisted words end the arc and, in accepting her new life, Em recites a poem of solemn mourning.
“The only fights that have martyrs are the ones that aren’t over”