A highly anticipated comic hits this week from Image Comics and it brings together superstar artist Greg Capullo and writer extraordinaire Mark Millar. This is Capullo’s first work since wrapping up Batman and expectations are high — but is it good?
Reborn #1 (Image Comics)
So what’s it about? The Image summary reads:
MARK MILLAR & GREG CAPULLO join forces to create the smash hit sci-fi / fantasy story of the year: REBORN. Where do you go when you die? Not heaven or hell; somewhere else. Somewhere you have to fight to survive. Somewhere the people from the past are waiting for you—the good and the bad.
Why does this book matter?
The biggest draw to this series is the science fiction and fantasy themes rendered by Capullo who has been doing gritty and darkly inked books for ages. Combine that with the very big and not often used concept of heaven and how could you not want to check this title out?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is one of those comics that wants to dazzle you. It opens in boring 2002, quickly shocks the system with a big reveal, then spends seven pages delving into the character of an old woman. Then Millar shocks you again and doesn’t stop shocking you till the very end. It’s pretty clear Millar knows how to rope you in and by telling the story in this way – similar to how he blew me away with Chrononauts – and it’s very easy to see this being converted into a film; that’s because the characters are genuine, time is spent with them as if they are real people, and when the magical elements start to enter the story everything feels big and larger and life. There’s magic in these here hills and you won’t want to stop exploring them.
I’m going to be honest with you though, there is a lot to digest in Reborn #1 alongside the shock value. I was interested, sure, but grew almost bored with where it was going. A lot of time is spent reading captions about faith, death, and coming to grips with how you live your life. It’s very deep – probably one reason it was hard for me to read since I have issues with our inevitable end – and it all does well to set up the complete insanity of the final pages. Juxtaposed, Millar shows us the calm before the storm and it’s an important element as he creates balance in the issue itself.
This comic is crazy and you’ll love it.
And once the scale starts to tip towards action it does not let up. Thanks to Capullo’s wicked lines, along with inker Jonathan Glapion and colorist FCO Plascencia, you will be wowed. You will find your mouth agape, in part due to the chaos and action, but also the mixing of science fiction and fantasy. There’s blood, there’s gore, and there’s a lot to chew on as you read along just as perplexed as the protagonist is. What it all means doesn’t matter because it all looks so real and insane. Basically put, there are action scenes in this on the same scale as those crazy ones you dreamed up when you were little with your action figures. It’s no holds barred and it’s delectably imaginative. Violence and hordes of villains are all well and good, but the biggest win in Capullo’s corner is a full page spread that transitions things into the action-packed final pages. Capullo does something with curved panels, as if they are glass, and has them shatter over a character in an almost angelic and meaningful way (check it out below). You get the sense the protagonist is an angel, though her wings are just a cape, and it’s at once beautiful and meaningful.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The scripting does force the reader to be patient, which I know in this day and age is a big ask. It opens with a punch to the teeth and then delivers a story about an old woman that’s difficult to care about. Since we don’t know who she is or why we’re even focused on her it’s hard to gather interest. I felt myself wandering off the page not caring as much as I should. As I said above, once you read the entire issue you’ll see the importance of these quieter character moments.
Amazing page that’s not only beautiful, but meaningful to the story.
Is It Good?
Reborn promises to excite, surprise, and most importantly offer an afterlife tale fantasy fans won’t want to miss. It takes patience to get into it, but when you let it you’ll realize this is masterful storytelling.