Comic Review: Bitter Root Red Summer Special #1 (Image Comics)

For regular readers of the Bitter Root series from Image, the summer is now a little sweeter! While we wait for the series to launch a new arc in the […]

For regular readers of the Bitter Root series from Image, the summer is now a little sweeter! While we wait for the series to launch a new arc in the fall with issue 6, there is the Bitter Root Red Summer Special #1, out this week.

Bitter Root, the story of how hatred can become physically manifest, is a powerful read. It’s based on historical events in the United States. First, there was the anti-black violence of ‘Red Summer of 1919’. This was followed in Tulsa Oklahoma with its Race Massacre of 1921, where an entire black section of the city was attacked and decimated by whites, resulting in hundreds of deaths. In Bitter Root, the antagonists of the story are monster-like creatures filled with hatred and anger after surviving this massacre. And it’s up to the Sangerye family to combat these spirits. Okay, I’m simplifying the situation here, but you should read Dexter Nelson II’s essay at the conclusion of this issue: it brings a lot of clarity (and sadness) to the hows, whys and wheres of Bitter Root, and how fiction follows fact.

Having said this, how is the comic? Well, it’s a collection of slice-of-life episodes, pivotal moments, short stories and snippets of action with the characters of the Bitter Root series. There are too many artists to mention each individually, but the six selections are all written by David. E Walker and Chuck Brown.

With a variety of artists drawing a variety of scenarios, lightly linked together through their historical context, things can get pretty heavy. So, I was delighted to read “Ladies Night”, with art by Khary Randolph and colour by Matt Herms, in the midst of this. Ladies Night shows us what happens when two female vigilantes join forces to fight demons. The art is fluid and kinetic, the action superb. It’s easy to follow, and a pleasure to read. This short story could spinoff into a regular backup feature with no problem!

Bonus pinup drawings are included in this summer special issue.

Image, BItter Root Red Summer Special #1, $5.99 for 46 pages of content. Rated Mature

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!