Revival: Building To the Weird By Embracing The Real [Close Read]
October 2, 2015
In REVIVAL, the dead come back to life one day in small town Wisconsin. The revived aren't zombies, and they aren't monsters, either. They're just people. People who want to go about their lives the way they always have, and don't want to think about the fact that they might be something other than human now. They just want to live. But the world around them is not ready for them, from the government, who suspects it's a burgeoning bio-terror attack, or their families, who are disconcerted by the revival of their loved ones.
Norton and Seeley are great at working your heartstrings, but they also understand spectacle. No matter how out-there REVIVAL gets, there's always going to be something there to ground the story and keep you hooked.
From the first issue, we're consistently confronted with the mundane and outré. People coming back to life? Whoof. But by focusing on the reactions of the revived to their seeming miracle, and the way the still-living cope with the return of people they thought were gone forever, Seeley and Norton ground the comic with something we can understand. We understand bratty sisters, frustrating fathers, and being forced into situations or roles we don't enjoy. That's something we have experience with, and consider normal. We accept it. And in accepting it, it becomes easier to accept the revival. "This part is new to me, but this part is real."
Once you have the trust of your reader, the sky's the limit, and Norton and Seeley know that. They built up a cast of characters who run the gamut—there are seedy college professors, small town waitresses, dirtbag meth dealers, college students, cops, and more. There's a mayor you can't quite trust, a coworker who only wants the best for you and you for him, and a son who loves his mother but doesn't quite get why his father isn't around very often. At the core of REVIVAL is humanity, and by showing us that humanity in detail, Seeley and Norton convince us to buy into the rest of the happenings in the series.
Once we buy in, the sky's the limit. That's the beauty of comics. If you can fit it in a panel, anything goes. REVIVAL covers a wide variety of topics, from religion to terrorism to counterterrorism to illicit relationships. The revived complicate these topics, giving the creative team a chance to either shine new light on arguments we've been having for years or just show you a cool action sequence.
REVIVAL is worth it. Seeley and Norton know their stuff, and never shy away from both amazing you with ghost-monsters and horrible situation or making you feel like you're watching people from your hometown go about their daily lives. They have a method that works, and works very well. As you read it, pay attention to how much time is focused on the weirdness and how much is focused on the otherwise mundane.
REVIVAL is available in two handsome hardcover editions, five trade paperbacks, and remains ongoing in single issue form.