The dead rising from the grave is an age-old concept – one that has filled horror stories for centuries. However Revival takes this concept and turns it one its head. Whereas we are used to vampires and zombies rising from their crypts to kill and cause mayhem, in Revival a small rural town in Wisconsin is thrown into turmoil when, for a single day, anyone who had died that day came back to life – fully healed and seemingly normal. Obviously some members of the town (and many of the people who have been resurrected) find this a little creepy – but not in the dark, mist-strewn graveyards kind of way. To have loved one wrenched away and then have them returned to you is enough to unnerve even the strongest psyche but Revival is definitely not your typical risen-from-the-dead horror.
Revival has tackled the practicalities of the issue extremely well. They writers basically sat down, said ‘what if people came back to life for a day’ and then figured out how various parts of society might react. The CDC and the media obviously pounce on the town, quarantining it in case the resurrection is contagious. Scientists are sent in to investigate and the sheriff’s department is swamped by government instruction to monitor the previously deceased. As media speculation rises, tension in the town increases and distrust of the resurrected begins to cause chaos. The media certainly are buggers for causing trouble!
Religions and cults also jump on the band wagon, some claiming Armageddon, others the Resurrection of the godly. There are definitely some iffy spiritual things going on in the comic and they become more prominent as the comic goes on – shifting the comic from primarily a what-if investigation into a really creepy what-the-hell-is-happening kind of occult thriller. I’ve read it and I’m still not sure what on earth was going on in most of it – I guess that does somewhat increase the likelihood of my buying the second volume but it does leave you rather confused.
Honestly though, Revival gets pretty messed up. Thinking about it, it STARTED pretty messed up. One of the first scenes you see is a corpse being put into a cremation furnace and then resurrecting half way through being cremated. You also see a grandma prying out her teeth because they keep growing back and she can’t fit her false teeth in. This isn’t for the squeamish for sure. It also isn’t for those uncomfortable with occult themes (which might actually include me, so I am un-made-up on it) Demonic possession is one of the developing themes and there are some pretty suspicious creatures lurking in the woods which I get the feeling might play a far larger part in the second volume.
Part of me likes this comic and part of me feels really uncomfortable with it. However it DOES have a lot going for it –a unique premise, unconventional and certainly not predictable plot, interesting characters and beautiful graphics. It also doesn’t pull the punches, it isn’t afraid to be controversial or provocative and some of its illustrations are pretty graphic.
Image Comics certainly seem to be doing interesting things at the moment when it comes to new series. I have 11 more Image titles on my ‘saved for later’ list on Amazon and I am pretty certain some of those will be equally weird and wonderful. Fingers crossed.