The Crow: Pestilence #1

6 Overall Score
Art: 7/10
Dialogue: 6/10
Story: 5/10

The ass-kicking!

The (self-serious) ass-kicking!

The Crow: Pestilence #1
(W) Frank Bill (A) Drew Moss (CA) James O’Barr
IDW Publishing
2014

How far can a solid dose of kick-assery carry a comic book? In the case of The Crow: Pestilence, it’s a pretty good ways. I’ve seen a number of the Crow films, and they’re mostly terrible (sorry, if I’m stepping on someone’s shrine). They’re self-serious and joyless, all the while telling one of the silliest stories ever committed to film. The Crow: Pestilence, doesn’t really deviate from the formula put forth by the film franchise: dead guy brought back to life by the spirit of a macabre bird (and some face paint) brings the pain to those who wronged him. But what it lacks in originality it makes up for by being a hell of a lot of fun, even if it’s still a little silly.

The Crow: Pestilence takes place in Juarez, Mexico and follows Salvador, a tattooed, mohawk-ed, makeup-ed, ripped-up badass. When Salvador, a fledgling boxer and loving husband and father, is asked to throw a big boxing match, he balks at the offer and makes enemies of the Mexican cartel. Needless to say, the gangsters aren’t happy with Salvador and seek to make him miserable. The comic is told in parallel timelines: the first follows Salvador before his ultimate “crow-ing” and the second chronicles Salvador (having been crowed) as a blood-thirsty revenge-machine.

When the book isn’t bashing brains in, it thrives on the strength of its central characters. Salvador is a brooding lug of a hero and has a far more compelling revenge scenario than Eric Draven in the original film. The villain of the book is the Juarez Cartel, whose embodied in Issue 1 by a hillbilly gangster named Raw Dog. Raw Dog is a compelling baddie; he’s made interesting, not by any fleeting moments of humanity, but by the amount of depraved anguish he inflicts on Salvador.

The art in The Crow: Pestilence keeps the dark, gothic tone set by the original 1994 film, but adds a bit of nuance to the bleakness. Heavy shadows and a simple color palette give the book a distinct noir familiarity. Though much of Drew Moss’ art is reminiscent of Sean Phillips’ work on titles like Fatale and Criminal, it never feels derivative. When faces get punched and skulls get cracked, Moss is sure to make sure that the pages are as fun to read as they are painful.

For all the fun stuff, there’s still a lot of inexcusable silliness. The entire film-franchise is entirely too self-serious for a story about a dead man who is brought back to life by a crow. The Crow: Pestilence is guilty of similar crimes. Despite how fun the action panels are, the comic is deathly serious and it feels like the writer is scolding the reader for taking any joy in Salvador dealing out justice.

Issue 1 of The Crow: Pestilence isn’t a perfect book. But, then again, it’s based on a far from perfect film franchise and ultimately elevates the source material. It’s a lot of fun, but I wish the creators would quit pulling the leash and let us see how wild a super-natural, crow-induced revenge story can get.

 

thecrowpest1cover

Comments:

Craig Schroeder
Author: Craig Schroeder View all posts by
I am a graduate of Florida State University, studying Creative Writing and History. Right now I work a desk job but I dream all day of making a living writing comics. I formed an indie label based in Tallahassee called Gentleman Baby Comics and HIT! is our debut comic. I read a lot of comics. I watch a lot of movies. I drink too much soda. I love a great television show.

Leave A Response