Comic Review: The Crow: Pestilence #2 (IDW)

I’ve got to give The Crow Pestilence a break. It’s not easy to write a Crow story, because any villain you create can’t stand a chance against the invulnerable hero, […]

I’ve got to give The Crow Pestilence a break. It’s not easy to write a Crow story, because any villain you create can’t stand a chance against the invulnerable hero, or the whole mythology falls apart. In essence, the challenge is to create convincing and well rounded villains that have no other fate than to be completely and utterly destroyed. There’s no complex story planned for these guys. They die badly, and that’s their only purpose. They’re bowling pins. So how do you make a story about bowling pins compelling? It’s simple. You emphasize the ball. By making sure that our hCrowPest2Mangeero is the only perspective that we can actually empathize with, you can make the story that much more personal, and the readers more connected.

Unfortunately, in this case, our bowling ball metaphor gets a little too literal when our hero has a personality to match. There’s a really cool story in the Crow Pestilence, it’s just not developed enough to be bothered with silly things like emotional impact. Salvador’s struggle is laid bare, and leaves nothing to the imagination. So why does it still seem so barren? That’s because there’s no pacing at all. In fact, we see the same character move across two states, by train, in a single panel. That should never happen. In similar fashion, we never get enough time to dwell on Salvador’s pain and guilt of being responsible for his wife and son’s death for it to have any emotional impact. It says that he’s tormented by it in the synopsis, and there’s even a (very) short bit of dialogue about how he blames himself (he should). But that’s it. Then he goes back to killing.

I have no problem with action in a story or the bloody trail of destruction that Salvador is so intent on blazing, and the guys who he kills definitely have it coming; but I’m not 16 anymore. If everyone in the comic HAS to die, I’d rather understand enough to feel (or at least pretend to feel) the level of rage or righteousness required for such an extreme reaction to seem natural. Yes his wife and son were murdered, and I agree that it’s a bad thing. But I don’t know who they were. They didn’t seem like they were anyone. They didn’t look like they were particularly lively to begin with. They might as well have been strangers for the way they handled them in relation to Salvador’s struggle.

Okay, I realize the story started too late for me to have had any background of who they were beforeCrowPest2stillcoming they were victims and that there may be a part later that will reveal how amazing and full of life they were, and how they didn’t deserve to die. And maybe I’m cynical, but I look at them and I don’t see Salvador’s wife and son, I see Crow Plot Devices. Of course they die. They’re loved ones in a Crow comic. They might as well be black silhouettes with the words “Plot Device!” superimposed on them in big bold white letters.

There’re so many problem with Crow Pestilence Volume 2 that it’s hard to figure out where to start. The scenes are laid without any impact in mind, with an exception for battle and action scenes which have the most interesting and dynamic angles. The only time it feels like a real Crow comic is when someone is being murdered or beaten up, but that still makes the action hard to follow when the transition from panel to panel is such a substantial amount of time. More than once I found myself going back with questions like “Where’d he get that knife?” or “When did he go over there.” And “That guy died? When did that happen?” The transition from scene to scene in fight sequences isn’t smooth or easy to follow. Still the fight scenes are pretty cool (or they would be considered cool if you were watching them unfold fluidly). Salvador’s fighting style is incredibly brutal, and it’s refreshing to see his rage translating in to just straight up butchering his quarry instead of using fancy martial arts moves that he shouldn’t know. He doesn’t play with them, or get too hung up on irony. He goes in for a bit of light torture, some last minute revelation, and then CHOP! It’s very violent, but it seems to be the only thing about the story that makes any sense, as he was violent before he died. Besides that, everything is a mess. Our bad guys worship the fictional saint of death, brilliantly named Saint Death. They try to use the fact that they’re religious fanatics as an excuse to explain the sadism of the SDC, but in the process makes it come ofCrowPest2Smashf more as self parody than truly horrifying. The SDC’s actions are not explained beyond the fact that they’re bad guys, and they do bad things. Salvador is dumb as a bag of hammers as a character. He never gets hung up on what he’s doing or how it’s even possible, nor does he ask any of the questions that are obvious to us as an audience. His character doesn’t feel human. He makes it impossible to relate to him, and just sort of does the murdering without any real emotional investment beyond the fact that he’s supposed to be sad; so we just sort of accept it. In short, the Crow: Pestilence Vol. 2 is hard to follow, yawn inducing to read, and so chocked full of clichés and tropes that, even in a Crow comic, feel tired as hell. Regardless, it’s better than the first by far, but that still doesn’t seem like much of a compliment.

 

 

-PS

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

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