Review: Running Straight For Hell In ‘Bitter Root #9’

by Malissa White

Buckle up! ‘Bitter Root #9’ amps up the action (and metaphors) in the fourth installment of the ‘Rage and Redemption’ arc.
While Issue #8 separated the Sangeryes, Issue #9 finds us fighting for survival, but far from safe. The Jinoo of Harlem take to carving mysterious symbols into the ground at the Harlem precinct. Blink and Uncle Enoch, fresh from their treatment at Sweet Pickin’ go in search of aid. In Georgia, a separated Sangerye clan finds themselves converging against the Jinoo in a burning church. And Dr. Sylvester runs from Adro right into his destiny.

Bitter Root #9. Cover art by Sanford Greene.

Writers David F. Walker and Chuck Brown hit us again with powerful metaphors as nascent today as they were in 1924. In Issue #9 change is a fire, coming whether we’re ready or not. This feels especially true today, and like our characters, it doesn’t matter whether we’re prepared. 
Fittingly, Walker and Brown tie Ma Etta’s wisdom into the literal church fire Nora, Ford and Cullen are trapped in. Set by the Jinoo-turned townfolk, the fire also serves as a rallying call for the separated Johnnie-Ray and Berg who join the trio to take on the Jinoo. 
Bitter Root #9. Page 3.

I also need to point out Johnnie-Ray’s naivety at the Jinoo’s willingness to burn a church, with his dawning awareness and strengthening allyship. Walker and Brown’s use of fire here works as metaphor, reflection, and call to action done with artistic style few comics can truly bring.
Bitter Root #9. Page 4.

Of course, I can’t escape this ‘Bitter Root’ issue without speaking about colorist Sofie Dodgson. Overall, the color balance is elegant. Dodgson doesn’t allow a single bit of Sanford Greene’s art to go unnoticed. Especially, in a sweeping double page spread in which Greene deftly cuts between action and character perspectives.
It’s an interesting choice for Dodgson to color the Jinoo in pinks that are later cast on Nora, Ford and Cullen. The green of Berg matches the green suited Johnnie-Ray. More than that, the visual metaphors for transformation in Berg/Johnnie-Ray and overwhelming Jinno presence in the trio speak to Dodgson’s mindful, bold work embodying each page.
Bitter Root #5. Page 5.

Of course there are more treats. You’ll just have to find them for yourselves. Published by Image Comics, ‘Bitter Root #9’ is written by David F. Walker and Chuck Brown, Sanford Green provides art with Sofie Dodgson on colors and Clayton Cowles as letterer. Find it on Image Comics, Comixology, or in your local shop.

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