A Review By: Amelia
If you’re a follower of Bookworms Unite you’ll know I’ve posted about The Crow before: it’s my favourite comic and movie of all time. Since the success of the first movie though, there’s been a plethora of sequels hoping to cash in and, let’s face it, they’ve all been pretty subpar (I’m thinking of a much worse word but I’m going to reframe from using it lest there are fans for the sequels reading this). The Crow: Death and Rebirth was a comic that I avoided for awhile thinking it was going to go down the same road as the movie franchise, but when I found the complete graphic novel half off at a book store, I thought why not? Surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed.
The Crow has been reborn: this time in Tokyo. Jamie Osterberg finds his life torn apart when Haruko, his girlfriend, is kidnapped and somehow changed into a different person. As he struggles to find out how and why he himself is killed. Of course, he doesn’t stay dead. The Crow must once more make the wrong thing right—but this time he might have to do it by killing the woman he loves the most...
John Shirley is the author of more than a dozen books, most in the cyberpunk or splatterpunk genre. He’s also written prequels and sequels to videogames and movies including BioShock and The Crow. He’s been the recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award and won the International Horror Guild Award for his collection Black Butterflies. Shirley has also fronted punk bands and written lyrics for his own music, as well as for Blue Oyster Cult and other groups. A principal screenwriter for The Crow movie starring Brandon Lee, Shirley now devotes most of his time to writing for television and film.
The main characters of the piece are Jamie, an American studying in Tokyo, Haruko, his Japanese girlfriend, and the shadowy broad of directors at an unsavoury multi-billion dollar corporation. Overall the cast of characters is varied and interesting, but you learn very little about them throughout the piece. In the original Crow you came to know Shelly and Eric through numerous flashbacks until they felt like characters you’d known all your life. Unfortunately with Jamie and Haruko, you only get the opening of the graphic novel to learn about their relationship and it really doesn’t seem as loving and amazing as Shelly and Eric’s. The same goes with Jamie once he becomes the Crow. Jamie lacks the humanity that made Eric such an interesting serial killing vigilante. It just makes what Jamie and Haruko go through seem flat. It’s got life to it, but the life is a little cookie cutter-esque.
The art style, like the writing style, in Death and Rebirth is a gritty and dark style. It’s got sharp lines and shadowy, murky colours. Faces are minimalistic and the landscape even more so. It’s an interesting choice since the piece takes place in Tokyo and there’s not an inch of that city that’s not covered in advertisements and neon lights. All in all, the shadowy and dark colouring that’s featured in Death and Rebirth is on par with the original Crow (of course the original didn’t have colour, but that’s beside the point).
My final thoughts on The Crow: Death and Rebirth are that it’s pretty good–it’s no where close to the original because I’ll be damned if that wasn’t the most genuine thing I’ve ever read!–but Death and Rebirth wasn’t trying to be the original Crow (unlike all those horrible movie sequels that tried to cash in on the original’s success). It was a revamp–a rebirth–of the franchise. Although it didn’t hit every mark it attempted to hit, it was still an interesting take on James O’Barr’s mythology. Death and Rebirth has its own story with its own themes and if you’re a Crow fan, it’s definitely worth looking into.