Reborn: Book One
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Review by PeteR
Bonnie Black is old. Almost everyone she has loved has died. She is in the stroke unit of a hospital, afraid of her impending death but sad that she is still trapped in her failing body, cloaked in loneliness. She does not believe in Heaven or any kind of afterlife. If it’s not tangible, it’s not real. Bonnie’s body finally gives out and, surrounded by unnamed doctors and nurses, in an antiseptic operating room, she dies.
Imagine Bonnie’s surprise to open her eyes to find herself young, beautiful and in the middle of a war zone. There are angry dragons, vampire/zombie things and airships firing lasers. Just as a dragon is about to attack Bonnie, she is tackled by a large warrior who, using nothing but a battle ax makes short work of the dragon. The warrior is her long dead father and next to him is a very big, combat ready version of the faithful and loving dog she had as a child, Rob Boy.
It turns out there is an afterlife and it’s in the realm of Adystria, a strange mix of magic and technology. As her father explains to Bonnie; “The old world was just a dry run for this one. If you were good there, you’re strong here. If you were kind to everyone, you’re reborn unbeatable.” All the bad people go to the Dark Lands, which is who the residents of Adystria are battling against. Bonnie is, of course, the chosen one, designated to destroy the ruler of the Dark Lands and save them all.
At some point, each of us realizes we are becoming older. The number of days we have remaining are less than the number we have already lived. To make matters worse, regardless how much we exercise, eat right, quit smoking and moderate our booze intake, our bodies continue to become less flexible and every day, there is a little more pain doing the things we used to take for granted.
Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, The Ultimates and The Authority) has clearly reached this point in his life. Reborn: Book One is the fantasy of an older person. Instead of our glory days being behind us, the future contains an even bigger adventure. Death is not the end but a beginning. When we die, our good deeds will give us great abilities and further exploits. There are worse messages.
The pencils are by Greg Capullo (Batman, X-Force and Spawn) while the inking was done by Jonathan Glapion of Wonder Woman, Batman and Batgirl fame. In Reborn: Book One the two artists have fused a sort of Art Adams feel to their fantasy world. The work is hyper detailed and very engaging. The interior artwork was a huge surprise to me since the cover of the book was very reminiscent of Frank Frazetta. Aside from the fact that those are two completely different styles, the fact that the art invoked images from two separate masters is high praise.
FCO Plascencia whose coloring credits include Batman fills the forests in Reborn: Book One with arboreal beauty. The palette used for the dungeons evokes hopelessness and despair. The lettering is done by Rhode Island College alumni Nate Piekos of Blambot
Why you should buy this book? I described Reborn: Book One as being a fantasy for old people. I stand by that comment, but that does not exclude this comic from being immensely enjoyable by younger readers. There is sword and sorcery, monsters, fairies, ray guns and light sabers. The story is exciting and Bonnie’s quest to find her family is a universal concept. In the course of describing the artwork for Reborn: Book One, I invoked both Arthur Adams and Frank Frazetta.
My only complaint with Reborn: Book One is it defies all attempts to convince people that they need to spade and neuter their pets. Reborn: Book One reprints issues #1 to 6 of Image Comics series, Reborn, written by Mark Millar.
WHAT IS THE HERO INITIATIVE?
The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has been fortunate enough to benefit more than 50 creators and their families with over $950,000 worth of much-needed aid, fueled by your contributions! It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.