Review by Frank Plowright
Revival has become a slow-burning hit, and this hardbound oversized collection provides an entry point for readers wanting a large chunk of material rather than the two slimmer paperbacks You’re Among Friends, and Live Like you Mean It.
For a reason not revealed in these pages, Wausau, Wisconsin has become the site of an extremely localised phenomenon whereby the relatively recently deceased are returning to life. This isn’t as shambling, blood-crazed zombies, but as the people they were before dying, given another chance at life. This rebirth isn’t entirely without cost, one problem highlighted being the constant production of teeth among the elderly.
The opening chapters follow Officer Dana Cypress on her rounds. It’s a method of introducing many of Wausau’s inhabitants, and their problems. Dana has several of these, including being an un-married mother with a ten year old boy, an unambitious former partner, and a fractious relationship with the local Sheriff. It doesn’t help that he’s her father, although he’s equally harsh in dealing with her younger sister Em. Over the succeeding chapters and into the next volume Em becomes an ever more compelling character, with secrets of her own.
Writer Tim Seeley has created an ensemble-style TV drama in comics. His Wausau is populated with many cast members just the right side of eccentric, brutal or conniving. Think Fargo crossed with Resurrection and that about nails it, although it should be noted Revival was published before the latter in either book or TV form.
Among the mysteries occupying Wausau residents beyond the reappearance of their loved ones are the ghost-like spirits darting about the countryside, just who is threatening a local TV reporter, and belief from beyond the immediate area that body parts from Wausau may prolong life. This latter plot device leads into the more horrific second part of the book, where Em comes into her own.
An integral partner in the creative success is artist Mike Norton, who creates distinct and distinctive members of the cast, distinguishing them via expression and posture. He maintains a naturalistic style that borders on cartooning, and a multi-cultural community are sensitively portrayed.
While Revival is classified as horror, the horror stems largely from human behaviour, not the returning dead. There are also elements of the action thriller, but for all the strangeness this is primarily a mechanism for subjecting a community and their tensions to the scrutiny of a microscope. The series is remarkably consistent, quality never dipping, and those who enjoy this book should be happy with volume two also.
As befits what’s being marketed as a premium collection, there is a fair amount of material not found in the paperback versions of these stories. Among it is a short story created for a Comic Book Day giveaway, scripts, commentary, design sketches and more.