Revival has got everything I like about comics, and narrative entertainment in general. It’s probably got what you like too.
When I read Mike Norton Tim Seeley’s Revival, I feel like I’m reading a comic that was crafted specifically for me. At its root, Revival is about the dead returning to waking life in a small rural Wisconsin town and how the town reacts to this odd phenomenon.
Like I said, this comic has got everything that I could ask for from any form of entertainment. It’s set in an isolated environment, characterized by winter and snow. I enjoy absolutely any story that takes place in this sort of environment, not only because I love that type of weather, but also because there are a lot of social elements to the story that I revel in. Just look at The Shining, The Thing, Fargo and Misery. Those movies are all driven by the unique social experience that accompanies living in an isolated environment. I argue that John Carpenter’s The Thing is a movie solely about communication, focusing on the importance of the detailed aspects of interaction and observation. The characters in that film had to think about what it is to be human, and recognize who demonstrated these qualities least, while the audience is tasked with the same–to identify the monster who is unable to keep itself secret by incorrectly behaving in certain social situations. The Shining is a similar story, which focuses on the importance of communication in order to survive in an isolated environment for a long period of time.
Revival is great because it doesn’t rely on cheap thrills–this story is an investment, the characters and the community are as important, and perhaps more important than the fact that the dead have started returning. It’s building the horror up, showing a mysterious white humanoid (could be a spirit, could be an alien?) only once per issue at a minimum. This creature is also featured above on the cover of #3. The book is focusing on building the relationships of the townspeople for the audience, having the narrative take the backseat to character development. Although it has been slow so far, the story has definitely had its hooks out. There’s plenty of mystery so far in three issues, fueled by some especially gruesome images. There was even a comment in the letters-to-the-editor section where a guy explained that he had to stop eating while reading the first issue out of fear of being sick from one of the grosser images involving pulled teeth.
Revival also features criticisms of religion and the media, topics I automatically gravitate towards. It’s always interesting to see how the media can impact any situation, and seeing a unbiased approach to how truly positive/negative their impact can be. And local churches will be interested in the walking dead for obvious reasons, and I think there’s a lot of potential for some critical discussion of how religion lives and affects the inhabitants of this rural town, not only locally, but also on an international scale considering the events that are unique to this area.
In this issue, we get to see more of the racial stratification within the community. It’s even addressed that the higher up you go on a certain hill in town, the higher the salaries in the logging industry were. All of the Hmong immigrants live together in the same part of town, in low income housing, while the “Logger Barons” lived at the top of the hill. This aspect also demonstrates the interesting element of a town created and populated around a single commodity/industry. It reminds me of the communities that were stricken by the coal boom across the Appalachian, and how those communities look now. I hope that there’s more discussion of this in future issues.
Those are the themes/elements that make this book stand out among all other books in publication right now, but I forgot to mention that it’s amazingly written and drawn, but I would hope that those go without saying.