Mark Millar wants us all to know that we do pass onto another life after we die, it’s just not Heaven. Rather, it’s a far more exciting promise of world filled with swords, sorcery and sci-fi in which we get to reunite with our friends, family and even our past pets, all reborn (geddit?). And, similarly, if you lead a good life you will be rewarded. However, the bad guys of this mortal coil of ours also get to be reborn within this majestic and magical world and that leads to the odd problem or two, as you can imagine.
Meet the elderly Bonnie Black who finds she is reborn as a 25 year old woman with her whole life ahead of her, after suffering a fatal stroke. But first, she must find her husband–who she lost in 2002 to a lone gun-man shooting from atop a nearby roof and terrorising the public–and also fight off Golgotha, the evil overlord of The Dark Lands; a Mordor-eque landscape constantly raiding the other realms of this fantasy world for plunder and booty. Oh, and she’ll need to confront her past pet, Frosty, a cat who is driven to revenge by the painful memory that it was Bonnie who had him castrated in our world, only for him to return as the chimera, General Frost. That’s gotta hurt.
According to the interview included as an extra in this hardcover collection, Millar is planning this as a five volume epic, which may explain how relatively simplistic this story is. Millar is a writer who can twist, parody and stretch the common tropes and conventions of any genre he takes up, but here he seems to be happy enough to build a world that he can return to. Or, rather, allow Greg Capullo his chance to shine.
And, shine he does, being allowed to build this whole world from the foundations upwards and, through following Bonnie’s adventures in this sci-fi and sorcery Slumberland, giving us glimpses of regions I hope we get to spend more time in when future chapters in this fun fantasy are eventually published. However long that takes, though.
Sequels aren’t Millar’s strong point as anyone awaiting a Nemesis 2, will attest. Capullo fills each and every page with fascinating characters and wonderful designs; from the costumes worn by the various denizens of this realm, Adystria, the spaceships, the architecture and everything else in between.
There are the odd surprises–this wouldn’t be a Millar book if there weren’t–but nothing to beat previous high point in Millar’s writing. At it’s heart, this is a warming story of family reunions on the other side as well as the odd family disappointment too. Well, you can’t choose ’em can you? Not like you’re friends.
One of whom, Estelle, just happens to have been transformed in this afterlife into the Queen of The Faeries, but a bitter and twisted one, because of her holy belief in God, Heaven, and Hell when she was alive. So, it’s not all happy ever afters on the other side, that’s for sure.
It’s an entertaining read, but it’s the artwork that will make you pause on the turn of each page and marvel at the spectacle. Capullo’s creative juices are in free-flow on this title and he seems to be having blast establishing a world he clearly wants to come back to.
This reads more like a European style album in the style of Valerian and would do well with an oversized edition at some point down the line, like they’ve juts done with the Tokyo Ghost hardback recently by Rick Remender and Sean Gordon Murphy. And, unlike Bonnie and co., he won’t need to die to do that. He’ll just need to give Millar a nudge or two whenever he’s ready. And, when he does, I’ll be waiting.
Reborn is Jacob’s Ladder meets Lord of The Rings filtered through the lens of Luc Besson.
Reborn HC is out now from Image Comics.