Review by C.J. Bunce

Any Midwesterner will find the quaint farm community in writer Tim Seeley and artist Mike Norton’s new Image Comics “rural noir” series Revival very familiar.  Even if you live in the city, you drive past these communities going to and fro, dotted with barns and sheep and silos.  What goes on there?  Are you sure you want to know?

In the Pacific Northwest David Lynch showed us a local community in the woods (set near Snoqualmie, Washington) in his TV series Twin Peaks.  In the Syfy Channel TV series Haven, we meet a New England small-town community courtesy of Steven King.  M. Night Shyamalan has written the book over and over on these towns, a la Pennsylvania flavor, whether it’s with Signs, and its nondescript blot on the map town, or Lady in the Water and its tacky apartment complex community, or The Happening with strange goings-on in Harrisburg, Penn., or The Village, whose time and place is part of the village’s (and the movie’s) secret.  Of course these all have something less than quaint in common, something filled with secrets and the supernatural, something powerful and dark.  Yet these places manage to seem familiar, and part of you wouldn’t mind setting up residence in, say, Twin Peaks, Wash. or Haven, Maine.  Remember the good coffee and donuts at the diner in Twin Peaks?  Something is luring you closer.  And now you can add the Wisconsin version of this town to the mix.  The town of the Revival.

A certain “happening” or “event” has taken place in Wausau, Wisconsin, and its drawn the attention of the entire world.  You can’t die in Wausau, plain and simple.  But what is the cause?  An old woman is reciting verses from the Bible, speaking of purgatory and rapture.  And then, like a scene from Shyamalan’s Signs, a little boy playing on his farm encounters an all-out alien–straight out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind–walking by, mimicking, and learning the boy’s language like E.T. himself.

A sheriff and his daughter Dana are investigating this upheaval, this “things like this never happen in my town” incident, as if it were an act of bio-terrorists, including involvement of the C.D.C.  Dana is our very likable police officer, a fixture in her community.  Familiar to all of us.  She is our tour guide on our travels through this world on the edge of its own Twilight Zone.  These are simple folk, and otherwise, things are normal in Wausau.

Dana finds her sister with her car parked at a bridge standing near the edge and offers to take her on to school, but she instead accompanies her to her next case.  The disturbing old woman staring away from us in a barn…  and the end comes too soon for our apparent heroine, Dana.  And her sister is next.  Or so one might think.  After all, we’re in Wausau.  And the Revival has begun.

G.I. Joe, Hack/Slash, and Forgotten Realms writer Seeley’s story is compelling and subtle and creepy.  Battlepug and Green Arrow/Black Canary Eisner-winning artist Norton’s pencil work drops us into the pastoral realm, allowing us to get sufficiently comfortable before dropping a bomb on us, or in this case, a scythe.  Creepy but not so much disturbing, as say, the similar vein of Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising.  Thankfully.  But you really get the feel of Steven King, David Lynch, and M. Night Shyamalan here.  And I’ll be back for more with Issue #2.

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