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Review: ‘The Crow: Pestilence’ #1

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“The Crow: Pestilence” #1 satisfies the reader’s taste for a good old fashioned revenge thriller. From the mind of creator James O’Barr, readers get another vengeance-driven tale from beyond the grave. Hardcore fans of the “The Crow” series will still get a kick out of the gun-toting action and stylized artwork.

WRITTEN BY: Frank Bill
ART BY: Drew Moss
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: March 12, 2013

Raw Dog is part of a criminal organization, named Saint Death Cult, that has been making millions off of drugs and prostitution. In Juarez, Raw Dog has been illegally transporting women from another country to the US border to serve as drug mules and call girls. Years ago, Raw Dog and his associates murdered the wrong innocent man. The mystical crow has brought back Salvador, an ex-boxer, from the grave. Nothing will stop Salvador as he plans on bringing pain and misery to the men who murdered him.

Writer Frank Bill lays down the groundwork for Salvador’s revenge plan. In this installment, Bill introduces one member of the gang that killed Salvador in cold blood. Following the mythology of “The Crow” series, we know why Salvador is back from the grave and who he’s going after. There’s not much room for Bill to play around with because this is a standard origin tale. Hopefully, in the next installments, Bill is able to move away from formula and bring something his own to the franchise. The reason I enjoyed “The Crow: Curare” miniseries was because there was an interesting twist. It’s not the dead little girl seeking revenge; it’s the retired cop.

What Bill does add in this installment is some fresh dialogue and social commentary. Bill uses the Juarez setting to tell a gritty crime tale about illegal immigration and the drug cartel. When Salvador speaks, his dialogue is meant to be expressive and poetic. Bill has an easy-to-follow rhyming scheme to the pulpy dialogue. I hope Bill is able to explore more of these aspects in the upcoming issues.

Artists Drew Moss illustrates a dirty and violent atmosphere to the Juarez setting. It’s not a pretty lifestyle in Juarez as Moss depicts his characters as junkies and sleazy hit-men. In a fantastic extreme wide shot, Oliver Lee Arce uses muted colors for Juarez’s nighttime setting, highlighting the dirt roads and trash-filled backyards. The flashy purple tone of the rooftop from Raw Dog’s hideout stands out from the rest of the buildings.

My favorite of Moss’ illustrations is when he uses a splash page to capture Salvador’s character design. Making great use of little details, Salvador has the sides of his head shaved, with just a mohawk on top. Salvador tilts his neck up, so you can see how his throat was slit. Because Salvador was a boxer in his previous life, Moss emphasizes the muscles around the chest area. I really like how Moss added black wings to the larger-than-life image.

“The Crow: Pestilence” #1 starts off solidly but needs more to deliver the bloody goods. I’m hoping now that the origin story has been told, we can get to the core elements of the narrative.

3.5/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis