‘Reborn’ Explores Dying And The Afterlife In This Week’s Best Comics

10.12.16 2 weeks ago

Image Comics

Mark Millar has lately been concerned with getting old. Starlight followed a Buck Rogers-esque hero who came back to Earth, led a quiet life, and found himself alone with his memories, for example. And Reborn #1 (Image Comics) continues the trend with a heroine you don’t often see in comics: A woman in her seventies, living in a nursing home, and terrified of death.

While the cover of the book looks like a Lensman-esque high fantasy, and in the second half of the story, it indeed delves into that, the first half of the book is focused instead Bonnie’s last days on Earth. It’s unexpected, but what’s fascinating is how unvarnished it is, and the challenges it gives Greg Capullo, best known to this point for his grim superheroes. Capullo is more than up to it, filling the pages with warm panels and carefully illustrated people, and in the details, it might be some of his best work. Similarly, Millar handles the idea of a lonely woman filled with minor regrets and longing to be with the people she loves with a rare sensitivity.

Then, of course, there’s the fantasy aspect, which is a bit more familiar, but superbly executed as well. Apparently, when you die on Earth, you’re reincarnated to fight a war somewhere else, and Bonnie is, naturally, the Chosen One. Still, the real promise of this book will be how it riffs on that idea of a life led, and the unexpected second act, and it promises to be a compelling one.

DC Comics

Doom Patrol #2, DC Comics

Gerard Way and Nick Derington show a little more focus in their second issue as classic character Negative Man returns and, well, things haven’t been going well for ol’ Larry Trainor, who is now more nesting doll than person, psychologically speaking. Also, Cliff Steele, aka Robotman, is back and not really in the mood for the weirdness around him, offering a pretty funny grounding for the otherwise wacky goings-on the book needed. Derington in particular enjoys himself here, layering in detail and cinematic angles, and the book has a stronger flow thanks to that. The Doom Patrol are always welcome back, and this book is shaping up to be an excellent return.

Kill or Be Killed #3, Image

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ mix of modern horror and vigilante action story continues with a breather issue of sorts as our anti-hero tries to work out his issues with his closest friend, and discovers in the process that maybe he is, worryingly, a little more okay with killing people than he wants to admit. Phillips in particular stretches his muscles on art here, as most of the issue requires him to capture a lovesick young man and a somewhat oblivious woman trying to work out their feelings, and he nails it. But he and Brubaker also cleverly keep the balance going: Is our protagonist losing his mind? Or is he really working for a demon?

Peepland #1, Titan

Christa Faust is an interesting writer for Hard Case to bring to comics. Faust is a cult figure best known for her Angel Dare series, featuring a porn star who winds up in the kind of situations you usually expect to find a private eye in. Despite what may sound like sleaze, though, Faust’s work is notable for taking a sympathetic eye to sex work, and that carries over to Peepland.

The basic plot is simple: A woman stumbles over a video that mobsters would rather not find. It’s Faust’s characterization, especially our heroine working at a peep show, and Times Square in the ’80s setting that makes it stand out from the noir comics on the stands. Gary Phillips takes an interesting strategy on art, deemphasizing the sleaze in favor of a New York that seems grimy and exhausted. It’s an interesting take on a classic noir trope, and we’ll be curious to see where Faust and Phillips take it.

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