Filed under: Comic Reviews, IDW Comics | Tags: James & Haruko, James O'Barr, Japan, John Shirley, Kevin Colden, Matthew Wilson, The Crow
James O’Barr’s original Crow series was released back in 1989 and became an underground success for obvious reasons – a dark, sinister tale of revenge fuelled by love seemed to resonate with a lot of people and it’s more-or-less a recognized character thanks to multiple comic follow-ups and a series of films. The main question here is whether or not this IDW release could capture that vibe without copying the story we already know.
Young couple James Osterberg and Maruko Tatsumi are at the centre of this issue as they’re day-to-day life unfolds before us – their days at school, their family & friends coming in and out of their lives as they almost countdown to their impending nuptials. James enforces his urge to marry Maruko by learning Japanese at school and following teachings in kenjutso by his future father-in-law. Two content lives edging closer to one happy life together ….or at least that’s what we’d hope for but there’s never anything that simple.
Enter Hendra a high-powered member of staff at BioTrope – a company specializing in biological research. Hendra’s cancer-riddled body pushes forward the real sinister edge to this book as she pursues the perfect body to replace her weakened, dying one. A body switch plot that seems to drop in from nowhere with youngster after youngster disappearing as the pursuit of a longer life spurs on the ailing BioTrope exec. Culminating with the kidnap of Maruko and the arrival of our new Crow character as James takes the full brunt of the BioTrope goons.
Written by John Shirley and with art by Kevin Colden – the creative team bring us a version of The Crow that brings us along a similar path to what we already know and love. All while trying to give us a fresh angle for new and old readers alike but I think the only problem I have with the first issue is that things all seem to happen that little too quick for me. Leaving no real time for developing the characters or giving me the chance to care as much as I really should – this may well settle down in the next issues or at least I hope it does.
There are still some strong aspects here though, the switch to Japan and martial arts training is sure to make an appearance in future issues as The Crow fights to right some wrongs. The artwork is solid from Colden too with enough slick style on offer as the bright lights of Japan and the dark underworld are all portrayed effortlessly. A good mix between the writer/artist and some strong tones and colouring by Matthew Wilson do seem to bring a depth and life to what could have easily become a generic cityscape background with generic eastern/western characters……instead there’s much more on show here. I’ll be interested to see if the pacing improves as this mini-series progresses and how it’ll compare to the next Crow mini-series IDW have planned with James O’Barr returning to the character.
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