I read the first issue of Revival via Comixology ages ago. I was intrigued, but other comics won my attention. So I finally got my hands on the first two Deluxe Editions, which collect the first two years of the series (roughly). The series is about about a small town in Wisconsin where the dead begin to arise. The resurrections appear to be random and unpredictable. Since the cause of the phenomenon is unknown, the Centers for Disease Control send in a specialist to investigate, and the entire area is placed under quarantine, complete with an armed guard on the borders.
Resurrection might seem to be mystery enough, but additional questions and complications constantly pile up during the first eleven issues contained in this collection. The first resurrections catch the local police completely by surprise, naturally. But the deaths have all sorts of causes: there are murders, violent accidents, and “natural” deaths–and it’s not always clear which is which, so there’s a strong murder mystery element. The local police are a big part of the cast, along with medical personnel.
All sorts of other mysteries as well. The revived mostly appear unchanged from when they were alive…but some of them seem to have gone to a dark place, and there are implications that even the seemingly “normal” ones may have something going on beneath the surface. The ones who have been revived can’t be killed, but they’re not invulnerable. The quarantine situation changes the social dynamic in the town, which is another element that the police have to deal with. And there’s the ghost-like figures that start appearing early on. It’s soon established that they are real, not a hallucination or obviously supernatural. By the end of the collection they have become the central mystery (among many).
The deluxe collection also includes covers & pin-ups, Seeley’s script for the first issue, and a sketchbook.
Deluxe Edition 2 contains issues #12-23 and the Chew/Revival crossover. There’s no major shift in the status quo–the town is still quarantined, and the cause of the revivals is still unknown–but the storyline is far from static. I love the fact that the Revivers are never called zombies, even though they would technically qualify (minus the mindless, shambling behavior).Officer Dana Cypress is leading a very complicated life. She’s haunted by her cover up of the murders committed by her sister Em to defend her son and ex-husband, and has come to believe that her sister was murdered on Revival Day prior to her violent death in a barn that occurred early in the series. She is trying to figure out her relationship with Ibrahim from the CDC (and he has left a complicated relationship back in Atlanta), while fighting to maintain her relationship with her son.
The ghost-like figures have come to be called “the glowing man” in addition to “ghosts,” and quite a bit about them is revealed. They appear to be the disembodied souls of the Revivers. If they reunite with their original body the body spontaneously combusts. But they can be killed by immersion in water, or by a Native American spiritual rite (after being caught in a spirit catcher).
Two of the Revivers have been up to no good. The unidentified Native American man who was burned in the crematorium on the first day is thought to be contained (and in an induced coma), but he is in fact moving around in the town–plus Dana suspects him of the murder of her sister. Anders (the old man who was thought to be in a coma, but was aware the whole time) has made his way to New York City, where he uses his condition to wreak vengeance upon the rich who are buying Reviver remains, seeking eternal life.
Finally, there’s the Chew/Revival crossover. Very unusual to have two independent titles in a crossover: I’ve been reminded about Cerebus guest-starring in an issue of Spawn, and Usagi Yojimbo and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossing over. Tony Chu’s ability to learn the history of food he ingests has clear utility in determining the history of the body parts which the Revival characters are still trying to sort out in Wisconsin. As usual in most crossovers, the events don’t result in a major change in either series. Rather than doing a mashup of both series, the creative teams opted to tell two stories, each in the visual style of the original series. The stories work pretty well, even if they’re ultimately inconsequential.
The collection ends with Norton’s description of the process of drawing a Revival page, sketches and cosplay photos, and more Seely sketches showing the genesis of the character Em.