Comic Review: The Crow: Pestilence (IDW)

I first read the Crow in 2004. I was 16 years old, and I hadn’t had a lot of experience with comic books. It opened me up to an idea […]

I first read the Crow in 2004. I was 16 years old, and I hadn’t had a lot of experience with comic books. It opened me up to an idea beyond the superhero and in to a world of something far more personal. After reading it, I watched the Seven Samurai for the first time.  It was also my first time listening to Joy Division.  ( and the reason I fell in love with the concept of “Urban Combat”) Needless to say, there are a lot of firsts backing up my interest in the Crow. But beyond that, it was pure emotion. It was rage and sadness, and a plethora of black humor, that kept me glued to it’s pages. Eric was a personal sort of character with no problem expressing his feelings at any time, no matter what they might be. We were there with him, so it made the experience all the more engaging. In short, it was an emotional journey through a man’s loss, love, grief, and anger. So I suppose the question to ask now is, what the hell is this? I mean I try not to fault any story for not being another.  After all, this isn’t Eric’s story, nor is it Detroit.

The Crow Pestilence Juarez

Eric’s journey is through, and this time is Salvador’s turn. Salvador isn’t Eric. Juarez isn’t Detroit.  Caught up? I mean, it’s not that I want Salvador’s story to be more like Eric’s, I’d just prefer that it make a lick of sense. Basic gist of this story is pretty much that of any Crow story. Family/Love Interest/Pets are murdered by bad guys. And not just bad guThe Crow Pestilence Whyys; we’re talking like REALLY bad guys (They seem to get a sort of glee out of their ill deeds for no other reason other than the illness of said deeds). Salvador is a boxer who is trying to earn enough money to get his family over the border, and in to America. He saves up every bit he can, and then bets it on himself in an upcoming fight. Then the mob comes to him, and gives him a hundred-thousand-dollars to throw the fight. He agrees and takes the money, doesn’t throw the fight, and he and his family are murdered by the mob. First of all…duh. Of course they murdered him. He said he’d throw the fight, and even took the money to do so, and then he didn’t. I’m not saying what happened to him was deserved, but they’re the mob and murdering people who try to take from them is just one of the many things that they do so it was just…y’know…duh.

 

Okay. Sorry. That was bugging me. Now, let’s talk about the Crow: Pestilence. If there is one word I could use to describe it, it would be dry. I mean I understand that not everything needs to be an exciting, and emotional journey through time and space on a winged steed, but I at least expect to not hear the writer yawning in every panel. There’s no life. It lacks flavor. Salvador spouts off cryptic one-liners, but instead of being considered haunting, they sound like spontaneous poetry. And not even good poetry. Like…LiveJournal poetry. There are no parallels or illusions to art, music, or emotion. It isn’t even how he talks when he’s alive. It’s just that all of the sudden, now that he’s dead he can just spout random prose for no reason at all. His dialogue all sounds like a creative writing student, who just bought a new thesaurus. It would make sense if there are any thing in back-story that alluded to this dramatis, but there isn’t. His capture and subsequent murder is short, and doesn’t have anything extra to give us an emotional connection to it. Plus, they put him up on a cross. I mean, why? Is he religious? Are they? If so, they don’t tell us. It’s those subtleties that people use to connect with a scene on a personal level. It seems the best parts of the story are going on in the writer’s mind. It’s not that this is so bad that it can’t be gone through. It just means there are no details. It’s simple, and dull, and you’ve already read it a million times. There’s just nothing new. He’s the Crow. He’s gonna kill all the people who killed him and his family. Then he’s gonna go back to being dead. And there isn’t even a deep investment in the story. They’re driving through the pacing with a chainsaw. Everything happens so fast, that I found myself reading each text box two or three times to make sure I didn’t miss something. The bad guys are all generic, in name, appearance, and action, so there isn’t even a reason to hate them. They just act like cartoon villains and do evil things because they’re evil. They aren’t scary, or haunting, or real, or even intelligent. We’re supposed to believe that these guys own EVERYTHING? I mean the first one is so easy to kill you kind of wonder why no one else had done it yet. Arguably, the most important part of a good hero is his villains. These villains are evil in the most obvious way, and don’t do or say anything to make them memorable in the least. As a result the whole threat falls flat and ultimately feels sort of impotent.

 

The Crow Pestilence Work

 

All in all, The Crow: Pestilence is pretty much a let down.  It has some pretty good art, and even some decent scene composition in some places, but the writing absolutely kills anything positive that the story has going on. The plot is nonsensical at it’s worst, and boring at it’s best. Salvador’s motivation isn’t fully understood, and his psychology doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a factor in the story. He’s gonna kill the bad guys. Then, they’re going to be dead. The Mexican backdrop has a lot of potential for storytelling, and I honestly hope it comes to fruition, but the story seems to be more interested in letting Salvador monologue, then using him as a conduit for real issues. It’s pace is a nightmare to keep up with, as it lurches forward by leaps and bounds whether you are ready or not. Then when it finds an interesting place to settle, it rushes forward again, never staying in one place long enough to let us breathe or go far enough away from the main story to let us explore. Honestly, The Crow: Pestilence is shoved so far up it’s own…ahem…vengeance, that it can’t find any room to expand. As a result, it never reaches it’s full potential. Which doesn’t seem to be that high considering how badly Salvador’s past is presented. It’s a small, sad little tale that doesn’t go anywhere or do anything important. The be frank, I’d say this is one Crow that should have stayed buried.

 

-PS

IDW Official Site: http://www.idwpublishing.com/

 

 

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