Reborn unites some of the top talents in the comic book world for a singular vision of the afterlife.
When Bonnie Black, a woman in her late 70s, dies, she finds herself reborn in a strange new world called Adystria, a peculiar fantasy land where Bonnie finds herself remade as a 25-year old and hailed as the savior/warrior queen. Bonnie reunites with numerous people who had preceded her into death, including her father (now a fierce warrior), best friend (a disillusioned faerie queen) and two of her pets (with very different results). Bonnie goes off in search of her missing husband, putting herself on a path to a showdown with the malevolent leader of the shadow lands, the dark world where the souls of the evil are reborn.
The team-up of writer Mark Millar and artist Greg Capullo alone is enough to demand attention for Reborn. Fortunately, the duo come up with a concept worth diving into. Millar’s ideas for a very different kind of afterlife are striking, as he synthesizes mythology and theology, runs it through the fantasy filter and comes up with an exotic world with some fascinating twists that allows him to explore the complex psychology of his characters. Millar does a heroic job introducing his large cast and establishing their personalities without letting the action get bogged down. But of course, the bulk of the attention goes to Bonnie and her dad, Tom.
Millar makes Bonnie an instantly appealing heroine; fearless and resourceful, she embraces her new status quo and relishes the opportunity at a very different kind of second chance. Bonnie’s journey, replete with a couple of well-placed twists, provides a sturdy underpinning for this first arc, grounding the action in Bonnie’s emotions and personal ties. Tom comes off as warrior mensch, the protective dad with a strong bond with his daughter. Not only are they an appealing parent/child combo, they make for a kick-ass adventure duo. Millar gives them some bruises along the way, but is confident enough to let this first adventure end on a positive note. That alone is a welcome change from some of the gloom readers find in numerous projects these days.
Capullo, working with his Batman collaborators Jonathan Glapion (inks) and FCO Plascencia (colors) is more than up to the challenge of translating Millar’s quirky afterlife concept onto the page. Capullo deploys his strong design skills to good effect, giving a “futuristic primitive” feel to Adystria and the shadow lands, packing the landscapes and backgrounds with smart, creative details that enhance the emotional impact. His expressive character work is on point, giving the characters physical presence, fluidity and dynamism. Glapion and Plascencia are so in tune with Capullo at this point that a reader could easily find the finished product to be the work of one artist, so fully integrated are the visions of the trio. It’s stunning, cinematic work that will make fans eager for another volume.
With a singular vision and a strong narrative purpose, Reborn is unlike anything else on the shelves right now and it worth checking out.