Published on September 24th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
The Crow: Pestilence – Comic Review
“The Crow is more than a bird. He’s my eyes. My ears. My strength. My power. He is immortal”
The Saint Death Club have deep rooted ties to the Underworld and when they aren’t using desperate women to smuggle drugs over the boarders of America they dabble in the fixing of Boxing matches. Salvador was one of the boxers that the SDC had in their pockets however he decided to play by his own rules, instead of throwing the fight he bet all of the money he had on himself and played to win. His intention was to escape at the end of the boxing match and take his family north away from Mexico and away from the crime and corruption. Does that sound a little familiar? It’s basically Butch’s story from Pulp Fiction except in this story he doesn’t escape and his family pays the price. After witnessing the death of his son, then his wife, he is tortured and ritualistically put to death.
Years later the spirit of vengeance that is The Crow returns Salvador to a kind of life so that he can butcher his way through those responsible for his death.
And that’s pretty much it for story. There are a few twists at the end that unfortunately don’t help to save the overall narrative, in fact they produce an unsatisfying end to the caper. Originally published as four issues, the comic quickly gets to the heart of the matter and then coasts through a series of blood splattered pages barely managing to add any further worthwhile narrative. If this had been it, had Salvador simply sliced and diced his way through all the guilty parties and then lay down at the end, a good vengeance well done, then just maybe this would be passable entertainment, a watered down reflection of the original source material. However, there is an added twist intended to give the story more depth, a bigger punch, something new for the Crow reading audience to get their beak into but all it really achieves is to make a mockery of the whole thing. In the end his family have survived, they have grown older and his son is a part of the world he has spent his time destroying. It was already hard to have any empathy for the central character but in that last twist even his vengeance was taken away from him: what was it all for?
The main problem with this visit to The Crow’s universe is that it doesn’t have the poetic, heartbroken central character of the original which you can get behind. There’s very little to like about Salvador and as a consequence the story lacks a hero. Eric Draven had a collection of bit players surrounding him that helped him to become a fully rounded character whereas Salvador’s only foil has exactly the same motivations and need for revenge as he does.
The script for this interpretation of The Crow isn’t bad, it’s a well written, violent, revenge story and the artwork suits this type of story however the central premise lacks an emotional hook, there’s no one to root for. One of the truly haunting and clever aspects of the original was the switching artistic styles, each telling a different part of the story, layering and enhancing the concepts and narrative. In Pestilence there is one blood heavy style that accentuates the violent aspects of the story but does nothing more. This will appeal to those who haven’t moved on from late 80’s action movies: it’s aimed at the people who enjoyed The Expendables but if you come looking for the same emotional driven, broken, anit-hero from J O’Barr’s original work of Art then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Title: The Crow: Pestilence – Trade Paper Back
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Frank Bill
Artist: Drew Moss