Called a “rural noir”, Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton was a series I first started noticing in Previews about halfway through its run (which happens often when I flip through Previews). So I decided to start reading it issue by issue on Comixology, sort of as a way to “test” the book without having it physically in the house. Then, by chance, I saw the first of the trades in a $5.00 bin at my LCS and I thought that it would be worth picking up. From there, I slowly collected the rest of them. My patience paid off, too, because between my LCS’ discount bins, cheap trade bins at the Baltimore Comic-Con, and InStockTrades, I got all eight volumes. So I recently sat down with the whole thing and worked my way through it.
If you aren’t familiar with the book, Revival is about the town of Wasau, Wisconsin where, on a day referred to as “Revival Day”, recently deceased people came back to life. The charge of investigating this falls on Dana Cypress, a local police officer (and daughter of the police chief). She quickly discovers a few things: the “revivers” penchant for violence, a number of people covering things up, and that her sister Martha (Em) is a reviver who was recently murdered, doesn’t seem to remember anything about said murder, and may be the key to unraveling this mystery.
What follows is a twisty, complicated mystery that expands beyond just what happened and brings in themes of family, the nature of life and death, current day politics, and the way small communities “work.” Seeley weaves these various threads skillfully, to the point where he even wraps all of them up in the end. Mike Norton is a perfect artist for it. I was a fan of his on The Waiting Place (which is another tale about an upper Midwest town) and he does a great job here. Books like this run the risk of having art that gets too surreal, like a bad imitation of Bill Sienkiewicz or Dave McKean (both of whom are great artists), but this never gets there. Norton knows this story is about a family and a small town and treats it as such, keeping the artwork very grounded in reality. That also helps the horror and the supernatural elements stand out.
Revival is also well-paced and finds the sweet spot between too quick of a read and a slog. There’s plenty of meat in each of the trades but they don’t take forever to get through, either.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?