I’ll be the first to admit — I’m far from the world’s biggest Mark Millar fan. I certainly don’t begrudge the man his success — more power to him for that. But success often breeds complacency, and as projects from Chrononauts to Starlight more than ably demonstrate, the rise of Millar’s star-power in Hollywood has resulted in a series of projects that are written with big- (or small-) screen exploitation in mind from the outset. Still, much as I was prepared in advance to be less than enamored with Huck, its inherent corniness and earnest simplicity won me over by the time it was over, and so I decided I’d give the latest Millarworld/Image project, Reborn, a go. In fact, truth be told, I’ve even been sort of looking forward to it —
But if I said that was entirely due to Millar himself, I’d be lying, of course. That’s because the long-time Batman art team of penciller Greg Capullo, inker Jonathan Glapion, and colorist FCO Plascensia are back together for this series, and that should bring over a number of readers who rarely if ever venture outside “The Big Two,” I’d wager. And seeing this all-star crew moving away from the gritty streets of Gotham and into a far-future fantasy world should prove to be a pretty interesting departure and give them all a chance to sink their metaphorical teeth into some material that’s well outside their usual wheelhouse, which is always an intriguing proposition.
As with most Millar books, the set-up here is fairly simple: an elderly woman who’s seen her fair share of tragedy (her husband was killed at random by someone called “The Minneapolis Sniper” — let’s hope no one here in my hometown gets any ideas) reaches the end of the road, only to wake up after dying not in heaven or anything of the like, but in a decidedly different afterlife that sees her assuming the role of a long-foretold warrior hero liberating the people of — somewhere — from the insidious threat of — something. The specifics of exactly who is fighting what are admittedly vague at this point, but if the whole premise sounds more than a bit like that of its Image stablemate Birthright, I’d have to say you’re not very far off the mark at all.
Still, this first issue was a fun enough read on its own merits, and the art is every bit as amazing as any of us could have hoped for. Capullo still seems more at home drawing costumed characters than actual people, but we’re well within his “comfort zone” by the halfway point of this debut installment and it looks as though we’ll be staying there for the remainder of the run. The initial “set-up” pages are fine, don’t get me wrong, but once the action moves to the sword-and-sorcery/sci-fi astral plane (or whatever), it’s like a switch is flipped and penciller, inker, and colorist are all firing on all cylinders. The comic goes from good-looking to gorgeous more or less immediately, and even if the story stalls out at some point, this might still be worth buying for the art alone.
So — will the story stall out, then? Hard to say. Millar’s scripts often start fairly strong, end strong, and run in place for a few issues in between, but this one, like Huck before it, seems to have a bit more heart than a lot of his other stuff has shown lately, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for the time being. It’s simple storytelling on its face, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself if the execution is top-notch. On that score, then, I’ve gotta say “so far, so good.”
All in all, then, it looks like we’re probably in for a fairly fun, straightforward ride here. Yeah, it’s probably all being constructed with an inevitable movie option in mind, but as long as it ends up being a good movie, we’ve got nothing to gripe about, right? And it’ll have to be a good comic first first in order for that to happen — won’t it?