Friday, October 9, 2015

CBR Revival Vol. 4: Escape to Wisconsin

About a year ago, I used the guise of an Horror-A-Ton to review the first two volumes of this series.

It's time to finally catch up with this great "Rural Noir" series and the folks living in the quarantined Wausau, Wisconsin.

Comic title: Revival Volume 4: Escape to Wisconsin
Art by Mike Norton
Story by Tim Seeley 

Published by Image Comics 
From 2014
Lineup Revival series/Chew series
Format: Trade paperback collecting Revival issues #18-23 and the "Revival side" of the Revival/Chew crossover issue special.

One day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now the living and the undead are trying to live in the quarantined town as best as they can. Officer Dana Cypress is trying to hold it all together, while meanwhile her sister Martha, aka "Em", a Reviver, is trying to find out the strange condition behind her murder.

Revival is easily one of the best Image Comics titles out there nowadays, and a bestselling series. The series was created by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton.

Often described as a "Rural Noir", it's a zombie story without zombies really. At least, not your usual mindless undead creatures.

After dealing with a traffic of Reviver body parts, Dana and Em had to make some tough decisions. While Dana just found out about Em's condition, Martha is having some serious problems to keep her consciousness intact, slipping away every day some more. There seems to be an awfully lot of conspiracies in such a small town that used to be so quiet...

Volume 4, "Escape to Wisconsin", collects about 128 pages-worth of content, issues #18-23 and material from the "double-sized" Revival/Chew crossover issue. 

Dana Cypress and the CDC’s liaison Ibrahaim Ramin have been trying to figure out what’s going on. But with so many issues to deal with, they've barely got the time to analyze the situation. The Revivers are not your traditional zombies, they look just like regular people... except when they're not! 

Dana has been trying her best to hide the burns she was left with last time. Meanwhile old Sheriff Cypress, her dad, has been going around town trying to keep the different secrets from being exposed to the daylight, and most of the inhabitants have more than their fair share of trouble...

Our local town grandpa and sports enthusiast Lester Majak has a strange encounter with one of those ghosts/spirits things in the woods. After that his dog Chuck disappears, only to come back and be killed in front of him by said ghost. Lester decides it's time to become proactive and face these monsters lurking in the woods! He enlists the help of a native American to come up with some way to trap the creature and destroy it once and for good.

Dana talks to the guy that used to work at the crematorium and witnessed the first Reviver on "Revival Day". Her son, Coop, seems to be stalked by one of these ghosts. Meanwhile Em has been going through a rough time, dealing with her own resurrection. She meets "the fucking Son of God", this dude named Rhodey. A Reviver kid using his newfound immortality to pull off stupid stunts videos on youtube, disguised as good ol' J.C. 

Dana meets Agent Frederickson and Agent Puig from the FBI. Theyn're not actually looking into the missing Check Brothers (from the last episode), but they're dealing with the fallout from their illegal business on the side. They've been finding remaining Reviver parts all the way to the Big Apple. They ask Dana to come to New York City to help with the investigation. She's the first person to get to go outside the quarantined zone in months! 

It seems we had a local celebrity in Wausau, Edmund Holt was the director behind a classic B-movie, "Octopocalypse". Holt tries to lure Coop to him as a distraction for Sheriff Cypress (they're trying to keep the Sheriff off a secret pass between Wausau and the outside world). Martha is spending way too much time with Rhodey and is discovering his very twisted world.

The Reviver bodies seem to lead Dana back to Anders Hine, this crazed Reviver that was a pain in the ass of our protagonists recently. He's been serving his very own body parts to the elite in the city! He could reveal Em as a reviver to the rest of the police forces and how they took care of the bodies of the Check Bros. on their own. But one of "the Glowing Man" apparently followed them outside Wausau and gets the better of him.

This volume ends on one helluva creepy cliffhanger for Em!! 

Finally the trade also collects part of the crossover with this other Image Comics series, Chew, a comic from writer John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory. The issue was originally released as a double-sized issue collecting both a Revival/Chew and a Chew Revival story, each written and drawn by their respective creators. Kind of like the
Hack/Slash/Nailbiter crossover really. The Revival paperback only reprints the Revival/Chew part, sadly (Chew collects the other side). This whole crossover originally began as a joke between both writers on twitter before it was given the show to be actually produced and published by Image.

While Chew is usually more comedic in tone compared to Revival, both feature great creepy premises and a great cast of characters and a big emphasis on the plot. Can they coexist? 

First some background for Chew: The series follow DEA Agent Tony Chu, a "cibopath", or a "food psychic", who can taste anything like, say, an apple or a corpse and get some mental visualization where it has been or what happened surrounding said food. He usually teams up with his partner, a half-cyborg cop. Yep, you read that right. His partner Colby usually bring much of the humor and comedy and is why he's probably missing from this Revival crossover.

A strange murder brought Tony Chu to Wausau. A guy that was doing research for them. Tony and Ibrahaim seem to know each other. What they find is some creepy dancing corpses. And our experts in revived diseased seem to be having some trouble believing anyone could absorb knowledge from ingeting stuff.

This crossover between a more surreal and funny comedic crime series, compared to Revival's noir horror mystery, actually works nicely.

This volume was another solid entry for Revival. If you followed the series up to this point, it doesn't skip a beat and things finally start to pick up. There's some great character development this time. Lots of twists. You never truly know what anyone's up to, some characters you might thought were good might actually be hiding stuff. Some more annoying ones actually can turn a new leaf. Even good ol' Lester might not be who you thought he was. Some dimension is added to our lead characters, they're not as clean you we thought, questionable even. 

We might not get to see the bigger picture yet, but Tim Seeley is slowly revealing his secret. Breathing new life in all these numerous characters. Making us sympathetic to these fictional people in general. It's a great darker turn. And Revivers spreading outside city? Color me interested!

I liked all the little attention to the details. The FBI agents were clearly a fun references to the X-Files, a pretty silly cameo that turns out into actual characters that hang around for more than a couple of issues.

Overall, Revival keeps on getting better and better each time.

This was a pretty good story arc where nothing much happened, but it stayed fairly interesting through the book. If the story didn't move forward by much, we got a lot of great sequences and character development. We might not be closer to the revelations behind all this, but we certainly feel closer to all these characters, and that's quite impressive considering how many of them they are.

Highly Recommended read all around!

We also get the great Revival/Chew crossover issue, our first Revival crossover since the beginning of the series! Which was really fun and a breath of fresh air. If there's one running theme across this episode is getting a lot of external point of views on this whole Revival Day event from the outside world.

My only real complaint with this new installment? The missing Chew/Revival story which might force me to get the Chew trade paperback to enjoy this great collaboration between two comic book creative teams.

I give it:
3 / 3 ManThings!


  1. This sounds extremely weird... Better check it out. Or at least the Chew crossover, since I enjoyed THAT series quite a lot.

    1. Crossovers well done are a good way to have readers cross from one series into the other.
      Me? Personally I never read Chew before, but this crossover with Revival really made me want to check it out!