Thursday, 3 April 2014

‘Revival’, Volume Two and Volume Three – Tim Seeley and Mike Norton (Image)

The dead have come back to life… again? That’s not exactly news any more, more often than not that’s exactly what the dead do in genre fiction. Whether it’s zombies eating the living or the latest Marvel hero coming back from the grave, it sometimes feels like it would be more of a shock if the dead stayed exactly where they were and just let the living get on with, well… living. You can see then that when I saw these two volumes of ‘Revival’, I wasn’t exactly all that intrigued. If you've seen someone come back to life once then you don’t really need to see it again to see what happens. It’s the same thing over and over again and I’m not mad keen on trop re-cycling right now.

I picked the two books up though, I never turn my nose up at free comic books (yep, the phone box again) and I’ll try almost anything once as far as genre fiction goes. Having torn through the two volumes, last night and this morning, it looks very much like I was wrong and there is life in the old trope yet. Once I get paid, I’ll be searching out the first volume just so I can get all caught up with myself; after seeing a few ‘old favourite series’ kind of tail off I think I’ve found a new one to follow.

For one day, in the town of Wausau, the dead have returned to life and are just trying to make sense of things really (as you would do if you suddenly woke up in the middle of being cremated!) None of the ‘revived’ are interested in eating the living, they just want to get back to normal and start over. Is this possible though? Wausau has been quarantined and is surrounded by media and religious zealots all eager to see what happens next. Inside the town, the arrival of the revived sees dramas play out that are smaller but no less intense. And what are the strange glowing creatures that lurk in the woods? Officer Dana Cypress has a lot on her hands; not least trying to solve the mystery surrounding the death of her revived sister (who cannot remember what happened at all).

Starting to read at Volume Two, ‘Live like you mean it’, isn’t such a big leap as it looks at first. Everything has been introduced already but it’s still fresh enough for the townspeople that you don’t feel like you’re catching up. The news broadcast, on the very first pages, is a big help as well :o) ‘Live like you mean it’ is all about how the townspeople react to what is happening; the quarantine has people feeling a touch of cabin fever but the revival itself is also an outlet for some of the less salubrious townspeople to make some quick money and this makes for a plot all the more gripping because of how understated life in Wausau is. When it all kicks off it’s like a shot of adrenaline to the system; this climax also raises a lot of questions (others are quietly introduced earlier) that had me keen to move onto Volume Two. ‘Live like you mean it’ is all about people trying to live their lives in the middle of something extraordinary and some of the resulting imagery (Cooper playing superheroes with the strange glowing creature) is all the more chilling for how low key Mike Norton keeps the art. The plot switches between characters a lot, giving things a choppy feel, but Tim Seeley really has a keen eye for characterisation and I swiftly found myself reading through the choppiness just to get to favourite characters (Em in particular). A tale well told then and one that raises a lot of intriguing questions for the future.

Volume Three, ‘A Faraway Place’, takes a little step back from the human drama (although doesn’t ignore it completely) to ask questions about the wider phenomenon; questions that are expanded upon through Dana’s search for answers around the death of Em. Don’t expect any answers about anything by the way, it’s far too early in the story for anything like that (I think that certain hints should be taken with a pinch of salt personally). What you get instead are questions upon questions and they’re all good ones, especially where Dana is about to find stuff out and then… That would be telling but the range of emotion on display here (from both Seeley and Norton’s work) is astonishing, really has to be experienced. There isn’t the sense of closure here, plot-wise, but what you come away with instead is that things are beginning to fall into place, slowly but surely, even though there are questions still to be answered. Seeley does a superb job of taking something half formed and making it look tantalising instead of opaque and like I said, this is a story that I’ll definitely be following (just need to catch up with Volume One first).

Has anyone else here read ‘Revival’?

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