Being a comic book fan and growing up in the Metro Detroit area means two things. 1) You can read a comic book in one hand and eat a coney dog in the other without spilling a drop of chilli and 2) You have a James O’Barr (creator of the The Crow and happens to be from Motown) story of sorts. After the movie came out these stories amplified and everyone “knew” O’Barr. I’m not calling B.S. to 100’s of Motown comic nerds (hell I even got a tale about the man…) I’m just using this to better describe my love for The Crow comics. O’Barr returned to The Crow comics last year with the overlooked Skinning the Wolves. I personally hoped this return would reignite The Crow story lines and give us a slew of new comics and that it did. IDW is releasing the TPB of the latest installment, The Crow: Pestilence on Oct 7th and we can see if writer Frank Bill and artist Drew Moss were up to the task of keeping The Crow comics alive and well… or undead and pissed off…
Salvador is an amateur boxer from Juarez, Mexico. Tired of watching his wife and son grow up in a town ran by drug dealers and prostitution rings, he takes a bribe to throw his next fight from the Saint Death Cult. Apparently, Salvador has seen Pulp Fiction one to many times and doesn’t throw the fight. Unlike Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction, Salvador doesn’t get away (or have a weird encounter with a leather clad gimp…) and him and his family get butchered by Saint Death Cult. Here’s a tip never try to get one over on any group that calls themselves Saint Death Cult… No way will it end well. As you know Salvador gets brought back from the dead and gets to pick off Death Cult one by one.
Bill starts things off almost by the numbers for most revenge tales and really things don’t start to take on a life of their own until around the half way point. That’s when Bill throws in the supernatural villain Santa Muerta. The book almost lost me until this point. Not that the book wasn’t brutal and action packed up till that point. It was balls to the wall fun, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Just the way a Crow story should be, but I was thrown by Salvador’s dialogue and didn’t get into the groove of it right away. It was meant to be poetic and the rhyme scheme didn’t click with me right away. Damn my public school upbringing!!! I am glad I hung in there because Bill takes what starts as a standard revenge tale and takes it places I would have never expected. Once the big twist hits it hits like sledgehammer. This is brought to a very (unexpected?) touching and heart-felt finale.
Moss is an able to match the intensity and harshness of Bill’s story in a very subtle way. Showing flashbacks of Salvador playing with his deceased son is captured perfectly and then you turn the page to witness Salvador ripping apart a redneck drug dealer without feeling the dramatic shift in tone. The tone has shifted but Moss has a skilled hand and it flows with ease. Of course we can’t talk about artwork and not mention the beautiful covers by James O’Barr IDW has included in the TPB. The man does good work and it’s awesome to see it put to use here.
Speaking as a long time Crow fan, IDW has handled the series the way it deserves. Bringing in talent that’s ballsy and not afraid to try new approaches to the series is what fans of the series will respond to. We can only watch a guy come back the dead to right wrongs so many times before we… Who the hell am I kidding that’s always going to be awesome! Keep it IDW!