When the subject of death comes up, the common question is, "What happens to you after you die?" There have been many comics that have answered this question, such as Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. In the case of Mark Millar and Greg Capullo’s Reborn, it is not the classic Heaven and Hell featuring angels and halos–it’s more of a sci-fi fantasy world where you are locked in permanent combat.
Fourteen years after losing her husband by the Minneapolis Sniper, Bonnie Black is an old woman in a stroke ward who is scared to go to sleep for fear she will not wake up again. When she finally dies, she is reborn as a twenty-five-year-old warrior in the magical land of Adystria, where she’s reunited with her father and her childhood dog Roy-Boy. Together, this family embarks on a journey to find Bonnie’s husband, as well as fulfulling a supposed prophecy in which she’ll save Adystria from the evil of the Dark Lands.
If you are familiar with the bibliography of Mark Millar, you know that his writing is comprised of big ideas told in a blockbuster fashion and Reborn is no exception–in its first issue, you quickly dive into the adventure through Adystria with huge and bloody battles featuring humans versus demonic warriors and dragons, including an enormous one with a lion’s head, who happens to be one of the lovers of the chief antagonist.
This comic is categorized under dark fantasy, and Mark Millar does not hesitate from showing darkness, as it opens with people being killed by a psychotic sniper. Reborn gets away with its strong violence largely due to the compelling protagonists.
Even with some of Millar’s ideas being not well developed, such as the lack of insight towards the prophecy, Millar can at least make his heroine kick ass as Bonnie is someone who has lived through her life with happiness and tragedy. She embraces this new life of fantasy as a young woman while going through a perilous journey to find her true love. What makes Reborn feel warmer than some of Millar’s works–although it is reminiscent of Millar and John Romita Jr’s Kick-Ass–is the central relationship which is not between husband and wife, but really daughter and father; Millar writes an honest depiction towards this family pairing as they share memories from their previous lives, while slaying dragons.
As Millar tends to make his narratives action-packed, it is great that Greg Capullo who, following a successful run on Batman, illustrates such impressive spectacle, not just in action and gory detail, but the world-building itself. Given his reputation as one of the chief artists of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, of which there are shades of here, particularly some of the demonic imagery, Capullo is literally creating a new world that embraces elements of sci-fi and fantasy while feeling uniquely diverse in showing different cultures.
While not all of Mark Millar’s big ideas are as well defined as the characterization, the great pleasure in reading this action-packed Millarworld title is finding something new in each of the six issues. Greg Capullo, for his part, shows off his best work when embracing the fantastical side.
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