Reborn #1 cover from Image Comics by Mark Millar and Greg Capulllo

“Reborn” #1 is a Very Good Start

“Reborn” will, I have no doubt, turn out to be a rollicking ride with lots of action, twists, and character betrayal. It’ll play with some of the “Dungeons and Dragons”/”Lord of the Rings” type of tropes. People will do and say crazy things.

At the heart of all that will be a character piece that asks one of the bigger questions of life.

The second half of the first issue gets us to that fantasy world. It’s complete with men carrying swords and dragons swooping down to rip them apart.

But let’s back track to the first half of this premiere issue that’s due out in comic shops this coming Wednesday.

 

The Writing

Reborn #1 character panel

It’s a Millar book, so it starts off with a graphic shocking two page segment that doesn’t really need two pages for this story to work.  But, hey, it gets your attention and delivers some seriously memorable images, so I guess it does its job.

The story centers on Bonnie, a senior citizen who can see the end of her life coming and so is filled with deep thoughts and philosophies. What does it all mean? Is there a God or a heaven? And is it OK to be scared?

Aside from one attendant in the hospital Bonnie is staying at, nobody has any answers. Just more questions or empty reassurance.

Mark Millar’s script is a heartfelt portrayal of someone staring death in the face and wondering what’s going to happen. It’s the kind of question you ask near the end, or when you’re middle aged and have a child and mortality truly becomes a thing. The story moves quickly and doesn’t linger too long on this, but does hit it enough in an interesting way that you know it’s important to the story without dragging it down.

And then we cut to the battlefield, where dragons and flying ships are swirling above and around our heroine in the white outfit, as seen on the cover. It becomes more a standard fantasy book there, including the idea of her being The Chosen One.

But that’s OK. We’re only a few pages into the story. There’s no telling which direction Millar will go with this yet. He might be using it to subvert the usual tropes, or he might be using all those same tropes to teach a lesson on mortality and second chances.

I can see it going either way, which intrigues me enough to stick around for the rest of the series.

In some ways, this series looks to be a perfect companion to the great “Starlight” for reasons that I won’t spoil until they’re generally known in the second issue.  “Starlight” is the tale of an older man given the chance to be the big hero and relive his younger glory days.  “Reborn” is more about an older woman who’s future isn’t so bright, but who still manages to get caught up in something bigger than herself.

What happens next has been discussed in interviews, but I didn’t read them at the time.  I think you’re better off doing the same, so I’m not going to spoil anything here.

 

 

The Art of Reborn

I’ve read Greg Capullo’s work since his “X-Force” work, and the onto “Spawn,” and then a little of his recent “Batman” work. There’s no doubt that he’s an amazing artist. He has the dedication and the tenacity to draw everything that a comic needs, including some stunning cityscapes and crowd scenes and whatever the script calls for. He also has enough creativity to vary his angles and his compositions.

I love his style for drawing people. It combines realism with just the right amount of cartooniness to be serious, yet interesting. It fits in the same school, for me, as a Tony Moore or a Joe Quesada.  (I think Ryan Ottley also fits in this style.)

It’s all just as strong here as it’s ever been, even without the crutch of super heroic power fantasies with colorful costumes.  Yes, the more dynamic parts are in the fantasy world, but I find myself looking at the “normal world” portion of the issue and considering the choices he’s made.

Beyond just the way he moves the “camera” in and out to keep an interesting dynamic, it’s always fun to see how he dresses the sets the characters are walking through, and picks extreme close-ups at angles most artists wouldn’t consider.

Some of his “Batman” fans might be disappointed that this isn’t drenched in inky darkness, but it still works.  In fact, it’s better for being brighter.

Here’s an interesting panel I want to highlight.  In the scene, Bonnie is talking about life, raising questions that you pay close attention to because you know they’ll be a good chunk of what the rest of the series is about. Afterwards, the nurse walks out and Bonnie waves good-bye.

Reborn #1 panel with a vignetter

Check out the shadows on the wall between them.  The shadows, taken literally, make no sense. But that’s not their point. They are there to form a vignette for the panel. They help to frame the scene, and extra care is given to cut the shadows around a break in the wall.  Again, it realistically makes no sense, but it looks great on the page. I’m good with that.  (I just noticed that the black areas are only in three of the four corners. That fourth corner has the attendant breaking the panel border in an effective way.

Inker Jonathan Glapion keeps a generally thin line for Capello, spotting few blacks. He leaves the art open for the coloring.  I imagine it’s a lot of fine pen work to get this look.  He knows when to go with all the detail, but also when to pull back to let the scene play out by itself.  The two are a good match.

 

Colors and Letters

FCO Plascencia is a great colorist who gets all too often overlooked. You won’t find his name on all the award ballots, but he’s prolific and always producing good looking work.

His style is deceptively simple: plain, mostly brighter colors that highlight the art and tell the story. He’s not trying to make everything super realistic and textured, nor is he bathing scenes in single toned light to be minimalistically fancy. No, his work pops the art off the page without drawing attention to itself.

Stories set in our world are on plain white paper, while the part of the story taking place in the other world get a color page showing between panels and all around the page. It’s a nice neutral tone that, again, lets the art be the star, without looking plain.

Nate Piekos stays out of the way with his lettering on this one, similar to how Plascencia does with the colors. It’s a straightforward comic book style at work here. No funny balloon shapes or strange font stylings. He makes some nice sound effects, though. There’s lots of those in the issue, and they’re fun to look at.

 

Reborn, Reconsidered

It’s too soon to say whether this will be a successful series.  But given Millar’s recent track record with “Huck”, “Chrononauts”, and “Starlight,” I’m willing to give him some room to tell this story. There are enough interesting hooks in it that I want to stick around. Besides, it’s good to see Greg Capullo drawing something new and different, too.  The fantasy world is particularly imaginative, even as his “real world” stuff is so well considered.

 

P.S.

I was inspired to do some “Reborn” fan art for #Inktober after reading the issue.  Here’s a preview:

Reborn Close-Up Inktober work

 

Pinterest Fan?

Here’s an easily pinned image for you:

Reborn #1 review Pinterest image

 

 

(Yes, I’m experimenting with something here.)

2 Comments

  • Inktober 2016 Day 7 - Reborn - Pipeline Comics October 8, 2016 at 12:40 am

    […] After reading “Reborn” #1, I was inspired enough to also try my hand at some fan art for #Inktober. […]

    Reply
  • BRIAN Robinson October 12, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Loved this first issue!!

    Reply

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