Advance Review: ‘Bitter Root #6’ Returns To Kick Monster Butt And Battle American Prejudice

by Olly MacNamee

Bitter Root returns to your local comic book store this week with a sixth issue and a continuation of the saga of the Sangeryes family; a clan dedicated to fighting monsters from other dimensions going back generations. And all for an America that doesn’t exactly welcome them with open arms. 
This is 1920s America and the world of inner city Harlem and rural rustbelt America. And in either contrasting community racism and hatred is rife. This is the all-too real world of America at that time, serving as a backdrop for oft-times subtle social and political commentary while in at the fore is the supernatural action-adventure story that promises to be ramped up in the coming issues if Bitter Root #6 is anything to go by.
Created and composed by David F Walker, Chuck Brown and Sanford Greene, this African-American family have to deal with prejudice as much as they have to deal with horrific threats from the lead big bad, Adro; true, unadulterated evil personified. 

Like any start up of a series that ended on a cliffhanger, Bitter Root #6 throws you into the action, with the various surviving family members and their friends and fellow monster-fighters scattered and battered. 
After what seem to be a flashback revealing how Nora and her nephew, Cullen Sangerye find escape the other-dimensional bad place, Barzakh, we cash up with ‘present day’ Harlem in 1924 and a city suffering from the demonic Jinoo; should infected by hatred and the transformed Doctor Sylvester Walter looking like a bad-ass, version of the genie from Disney’s Aladdin, but if HP Lovecraft had created him.
Meanwhile, Belinda ‘Blink’ Sangerye continues to rail against a prejudice society that would rather see women in the kitchen and Black Americans put in their place. But, that’s not stopping Blink from pursuing her true path as followed by other male family members. Fighting for a world that seems to hate you? Now that’s true heroism.

Of course in a world where hatred seem to be in high supply, it’s no wonder the Jinoo seem to be on the brink of subsuming New York and them the world with unfiltered horror. 
Greene’s visuals and Sophie Dodson’s colors certainly set the tone for this story. A blur of action and gnarly lines – akin to Paul Pope, but with more grit – offer up a dark vision of Harlem with any sight of light burning the page up with deep hues of orange. The results are an earthy, warm but dirty-feeling landscape suitable for this supernatural, monster-fighting slug fest.

With all the main players re-introduced, the stage is set for the mother of all showdowns as Adro finds willing recruits to take up her cause feeing off their righteous anger that is fuelled by a world that, at that time, cared little for the plight of Black America. Could America’s ignorance be its undoing in this gripping, gnarly family saga that has was much to say about America in the 20s, which could easily be mistaken for America in the early 21st century?
Bitter Roots #6 is out this Wednesday 19th February 2020 from Image Comics. 
As an extra bonus, you can also pick up your free digital copy of Bitter Root Red Summer Special #1, ‘a star-studded group of artists for six short stories that explore the history of the Sangerye family,’ available now on comiXology here.

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