I admit that I only picked up this series because of Greg Capullo’s pencils. The man is a comics super star. His work goes back to the 90s. I was surprised to find that he did the pencils for Korn’s album. His Batman work is a modernday treasure. Seeing his posts on twitter compelled me to pick up his independent project with scribe Mark Millar. Je ne regrette rien.
The premise of the series is a simple but complex one: What happens after we die? No doubt this idea has been written about in various forms. Many world religions and belief systems have a concept of life after death. There are various mythologies built on this.
(I am going to call the team ‘CaM’ for short just as I do CaP for Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti)
Bonnie Black is a woman in her last days. The book begins by entwining various ideas about what happens to us after we cross that line without being preachy. In fact, it is darkly cynical. You sympathize with Bonnie because she is still competent enough to understand that she knows her time is near. It’s a fear that we all have at some point in our lives. For some people it may occur well before they reach 65. For some, it could be that car crash or some form of near death experience that make them rethink how much time they have. Bonnie’s story at the beginning reminds me of a conversation I had with my boss. We were talking about the afterlife. I cannot recall exactly what started this but I am pretty sure it involved a supernatural character as I working with comics. He said to me ‘That is why God invented dementia’.
When a person above a certain age reaches a point where they can no longer take care of themselves and start to lose that cognizance, they are reduced as a person. They no longer have agency. They are set aside, put away into a nursing home. In my family, they would stay in that extra room, providing some form of ‘adult supervision’ to los nietos.
They are no longer really considered a ‘person’ when they lose that which is why we have nursing homes and that one family member who will pick up the slack and ‘let them live with them’. However, what happens when someone does have their senses and they know their time could be any day now. This is Bonnie’s story.
Bonnie Black’s story starts with her death. We know she had a full life because of retellings and a flashback that occurs just before she is ‘reborn’ as a 25 year old secret fighter. Millar and Capullo’s idea is intriguing because they offer the idea of ‘What if the afterlife is where you are reborn at your physical peak and you keep your memories so that you may use them in this life?’
Bonnie is reborn into what looks like a far away kingdom in a fairy tale and she appears right in the middle of what looks like a wasteland. She appears right in the middle of some battle. We know that we are not in Kansas because there is a large dragon, skeletons of some types of mythical monsters and beings who look like dried out goblins. It is not explained why she here but it might be explained in the other issues. CaM story goes from street realism to fantasy in a believable way.
‘Reborn’ takes the idea of death from something morbid into a fantastical adventure. Bonnie’s reunion with her father was sweet. We haven’t seen other family members yet much less her husband, Harry or her mother who left before she did. Why did she meet with her father? Was he the one that helped her reach self actualization? What about her mom?
Capullo’s pencils really stand out here. I could look at his marks for days. He can make you feel every fold of clothing, every wrinkle, every fine hair. The man is a magician. In the beginning of the book which draws a reference to the Beltway sniper, you could ‘feel’ the droplets of blood pour out of someone’s head, you could feel the burnt flesh of her father’s corpse after his tragic accident. You can almost feel the difference in the dermis of Bonnie and her granddaughter while they talk at the nursing home. Capullo has that magic touch where he makes the smallest details just pop. From a single strand of straw from the broom to the liquid in a cleaning bottle.
Grab it if you have a preference for stories that tinker with the afterlife and if you love fantasy. I am personally not a big fan of fantasy except in a passing sense (Harry Potter books and movies and Lord of the Rings but only the films). Get it because you love one or both of the creators. You will not be disappointed.