My purpose in writing this column has always been to bring attention to books that fall outside the norms of comic books for most people. In other words, my intention was to primarily bring attention to books that don't have anything to do with your standard superhero.
I have written about a lot of books that involve superpowered characters, but even if there were a cape and cowl involved, I tried to steer away from the usual superhero fare. It might be a subtle thing, but even if I wrote about superheroes I tried to avoid "properties." The biggest names in comic books aren't characters anymore, they are properties and their stories will never end. In many ways this is the saddest part of what they have become, because ending a story is just as important as starting one.
This past week a story came to an end after five years running, a book that I first wrote about a few months after it first hit the stands. Tim Seeley and Mike Norton's "Revival," subtitled a "rural noir," takes place in a little out-of-the way place called Wasau, Wis., and the story starts out on a snowy day as an unnatural beast comes to an untimely end. As we watch the zorse (a zebra horse hybrid) bleed into the snow the verses of a poem meditating on the eternal presence of death pass us by before the truth of its claims are denied in the coming pages.
Up to this point it is clear that Wasau was a town which drew little attention, but on January 2nd this tiny town became the site of an unexplained phenomenon known as revival, when countless formerly dead residents returned to life --not as mindless beasts ravening for brains, but as if they had never died at all.
This is but one difference between "Revival" and so many other stories that address the idea of the undead. There is no mindless horde, or post apocalyptic survival, instead we have a story of people learning to cope with a fundamental shift in their reality. While it may seem like dealing with your newly returned, but sentient, friends and relatives would be easy in comparison to surviving a horde of brain hungry ghouls, in reality this would probably be even more difficult to handle.
When you are concerned mainly with survival it is difficult to really question the nature of reality, but when your world turns itself upside down in such a monumental but subtle manner you are left with nothing but questions and time to ask them. All the while, the rest of the world is eager to break on in and ask you for answers you don't have either.
By the end of the series the military has gotten involved, attempts to weaponize the revival have gone tragically awry and the whole thing has devolved into a human rights crisis and the true nature of the revival has been revealed as something far beyond the little town of Wasau and yet intimately tied up with the most personal of matters.
After 47 issues, Seeley and Norton have completed their story and proven the power of a good ending. In truth, the whole book could be said to be about endings and our acceptance of them. As we made our way to the final issue of "Revival" readers were treated to some truly strange and bizarre things, all wending their way towards a fundamental truth of the need for reconciliation with the nature of life and death.
It is tempting to want a good story to last forever, and there are a great many that have gone on longer than anyone expected and remained enjoyable the whole time. Having completed "Revival" though, it is hard to deny that a good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end and that the ending can make the whole thing worth reading. For those that never started it, digging up back issues or the collected editions of "Revival" is worth the effort to prove this.
EDITOR'S NOTE: WILLIAM KULESA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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