Review by Frank Plowright
While writer Tim Seeley drops in on many of Wausau’s eccentric inhabitants, it’s the Cypress family that continue to provide the centrepiece characters for Revival, with each of the sisters the main focus of one of the two story arcs collected here. Those who prefer can buy the material in paperback as A Faraway Place and Escape to Wisconsin, but they’d be missing out on the bonus sketches and commentary, and a crossover chapter with Chew.
Wausau is, of course, the place where the recently deceased have been returning to life, largely as the people they once were, but somehow bereft.
Seeley’s definitely a writer for easing his way into a story, thrashing around a bit and poking a stick under this rock and into that bush before honing in. Preconceptions associated with Em’s introduction are long gone as she’s developed into possibly the most complex and compelling member of a large cast. Tormented and uncertain, a mystery surrounds her condition (not solved here), and she becomes the focus of the first story as she befriends a young child for whom the revival is no blessing. In between trying to persuade her otherwise, Em solves the mystery of the luminescent white creatures that seem to have arrived in Wausau along with the dead.
Mike Norton proves, again, to be a supremely adaptable artist. Comics, at least in the USA, is a medium that encourages the shorthand. In more graphic novels than not every character is a variation on the same face, and acclaimed artists with decades-long careers in superhero comics have never had to develop beyond this as their casts are distinguished by costume. Revival‘s focus on ordinary, if eccentric, people pulls this safety rug away, and Norton’s up to the challenge. Pretty well any member of the cast can be distinguished by facial features alone.
It’s officer Dana Cypress that eventually takes the lead role in the second story gathered here, as we’re given the first real glimpse of how the revived dead have affected the wider world. There are some particularly unpleasant people in New York who believe that eating the flesh of the dead will render them immortal (which has echoes of Mermaid). Unfortunately for them, they’re messing with someone even nastier. Dana heads to New York to solve the problem while tying up a loose end from the previous book.
Revival continues to be thoroughly entertaining, and it’s unlikely anyone intrigued enough by the subject matter to buy a book is going to be disappointed.