Friday, February 22, 2013

Pull List Review: Revival #7

I find myself digging the pacing of Revival more and more with each new issue. Though highly decompressed, it still finds a way to regularly fit in major, shocking events. Yet there is an underlying sense that the things we've seen so far, no matter how intense, horrific, and/or significant they seem, are only the tip of the iceberg. There are still countless questions about the revivers, really as many as there were when the series started, and the answers are not going to be pretty. While the cast searches for them, though, they continue to have exciting and unexpected adventures, so the book hums along and provides moments of clarity and closure while keeping its central mystery alive and obscured.
     A whole lot of stuff goes on in this issue, thanks in part to writer Tim Seeley's intelligent use of some one- or two-page scenes. He places and structures them deliberately, allowing himself to advance numerous threads in a small space so the primary narrative of the issue can have all the room it needs. Of course, that narrative centers of officer Dana Cypress, the star of Revival from the beginning and easily its most compelling character. In all the talk about strong female leads in comicbooks I see these days, Revival seems to get left out by-and-large, which is crazy. Dana is the epitome of a realistic, independent, powerful, admirable woman. Not just woman, person. Even when the vengeful, back-from-the-dead Anders takes her gun and throws her to the floor, Dana calmly and logically explains to him that she has to place him under arrest. Don't let the issue's cover fool you, this woman is not scared by the horrible things she sees. She understands that dealing with the revivers is going to mean difficult, terrifying, impossible-to-explain things, and she takes it all in stride and continues to do her job by the book. And Dana remaining so unphased is a big part of what I talked about above, the feeling that we have yet to see the worst of what this title can offer. Until Dana freaks out, I don't feel like I need to, because if she thinks she can handle it I implicitly trust that she can. Someday, perhaps someday soon, she'll be forced to face something that truly rattles her, and that'll likely be when Revival pulls out all the stops and becomes the most insane, horrific comicbook on the shelves. It's coming, y'all.
     Anyway, Dana's pursuit of and struggle with Anders is the bulk of this issue, and makes for a disturbing and satisfying conclusion to that particular story. Anders is just the right mix of ugly, old, and angry for a horror villain. I understand his rage because, after all, his own kid helped murder him, but there is such a base wickedness in his eyes that I'm still glad when he gets taken down. It also makes for the best single panel in the issue, the silhouette of Anders falling from the window, his own blood trailing behind him. It is a very tastefully-done bit of gore from Mike Norton, who does the same with most of the blood and guts of Revival. Though there are plenty of grim and gruesome visuals, Norton does a great job of making them look real enough to be upsetting but not so graphic that they're hard to see. This is not a book that relies on splatter for its horror, and really Norton's ability to play it down is another facet of the continuing sense that things could get much worse. If he really cut loose, it's clear that Norton could render the stuff of some awfully twisted nightmares, so I'm thankful for his reigning it in so far. The violence in Revival #7 is brutal and sudden and severe, make no mistake, but it's not so deeply disturbing as I know Norton could've made it if he chose. Again, I think he's saving it for later, and what we're getting now are hints at the enormous things to come.
     Norton walks a similar line when it comes to the overall visual tone of the series. Though not highly realistic or photoreferenced at all that I can tell, this is still an artistically grounded book. The people look real, their emotions and expressions are nuanced and detailed and rich. There is a richness to everything, a fullness to it that captures the spirit of small towns, hard winters, and imminent doom. Seeley's script is right there with the art. His cast acts naturally, believably, yet the wholly unbelievable events in their lives still mesh. It's a tightrope act if ever there was one, but Seeley and Norton make it look fairly effortless.
     The ending of this issue was quite the tasty cliffhanger, and may even be the first step toward the next phase in the series' insanity. But I suspect that even this stunning conclusion is going to seem mild when all is said and done. And that is what I love about Revival: even in an issue where I get all the action and horror I want, I am left with a sense of greater things to come.

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