Year Three opens with a group of visitors hoping to receive miracle healing from the river in Wausau, Wisconsin (home of the Revivers). Things do not work out as expected, and it’s only one of the many things that the Sheriff has to deal with. Among the Revivers checked in on, Em discovers she is pregnant; Ramin hooks up with Dana; and the supposedly inactive Jesse murders Chief Don Wapoose. Em goes to the would-be journalist May Tao for help in finding Aaron Weimar, the father of her baby–and she brings in Blaine Abel, who Em already has reason to distrust.
Blaine may be crazy, but he has skills. He figures out where Aaron must be: the Silver Creek Gristmill, a place long abandoned. Dana visits the conspiracy theorist Edmund Holt and is captured; he has a plan to do some sort of major governmental disruption. At the gristmill the group makes a major discovery about the source of the revivals: it appears to be something in the river, which has somehow kept Aaron alive long after his murder (along with a bunch of reviver fish drawn to the area).
At a public meeting the mayor introduces his revived wife Diane, who promptly sets off a bomb sewn into her chest–Holt’s real plan. It kills the mayor and injures many others in the local government. Jeannie Gorski, leader of a Reviver group, saves the sheriff; Ramin kills Edmund ; and Blaine kills May. A temporary military governor is brought in: General Louise Cale.
The ghost-like figures finally reappear. The military captures one to test out a theory, and they expose Jordan Rhodey to it. After going inside him, Jordan appears to be dead–but then the entity exits, and Jordan has developed a powerful soul connection to Jeannie. Noticing that, the military bring the ghost to Jeannie’s cell: they promptly unite and go up in flames. This proves that the “ghosts” are disembodied souls of the revived, and once they are reunited death is final. Rahim is revealed as a CIA operative (so he has been lying to Dana); Blaine is killed, but not by Em; and Em’s father learns that she is one of the revived.
Dana promises her father that they will solve the mystery of Em’s murder:She is certain that Em was murdered just before Revival Day, and has been working to solve the murder all along. She frees Em from the Farm (the compound where all of the revived have been relocated), by reuniting the burnt Indian with his soul and shooting the guard who was conspiring with someone outside to use the Indian to commit murders to cover up something important about the revivals. There appears to be some human agency behind it, and this is the great mystery to be solved in the final collection.
This Deluxe collection includes a draft script of Issue 35 (with sketches) and Revival cosplay photos.
As the series concludes there are a series of revelations, carefully orchestrated over the twelve issues in this deluxe collection. Seeley clearly had a grand plan for the ending, and carefully controlled the pacing. Just when you think you’ve seen the last revelation more follow, and what looked like an overly protracted climax pays off handsomely.
The Cypress sisters are still in hiding after escaping from the Farm, and General Cale goes outside of normal military channels to recruit a former covert operations specialist to find them. Derrick Hinch gets forced back into drug dealing by one of the occupying military. And there are a series of misadventures at the Farm where the Revivers are being held. An attempt to reunite Rasch with his spirit fails–he really wants to stick around and cause trouble–which leads to him and Dr. Lauro (the psychologist who has been working with the Revivers) being thrown into the high security area.
Things go rapidly downhill in town. When a panicked group of troopers fire on civilian protesters they find themselves possessed by captured “ghosts” and begin firing on themselves as well. This leads to what is essentially a state of war. Citizens begin banding together for armed protection, and the military (under new leadership) now distrusts anyone they encounter. The new general is preparing to level the entire town to contain the situation permanently.
General Cale continues with her own agenda: first, to find a way to kill the Revivers for real; second, to discover the source of the resurrections to make her son immortal. Dana finally figures out who killed Em: it was the exercise guru Lester Majak. He was enacting an ancient ritual to cheat death, which went wrong because Emily was pregnant. In any other series that likely would have been the grand climax, but there are many moving parts here.
Em is taken to the creek to reverse the curse. But the group is met with military with orders to take the area; General Cale and her operative Fanny Weaver; a paramilitary group from town; the entire band of Revivers; and Lester Majak, who is still trying to pry immortality out of the situation. It’s a grand climax indeed, with many struggles and deaths in a creek which is literally running red with blood.
In the end Majak and Cale both survive, but do not get what they wanted. Em’s daughter is being raised by her sister Dana (now Sheriff) and Ramin. So it is a satisfying conclusion, as happy as could reasonably be expected. The final scene is an ominous one: Aaron Weimar’s widow is shown purchasing a house on a creek in Tennessee (the creek in Wisconsin was revealed to be key to the ritual that started the whole thing) . Weimar had been the architect of the failed sacrifice. She is clutching a copy of his book, and talking about “starting over.”
This Deluxe collection includes Tim Seeley’s Afterward to the series, a Mike Norton Sketchbook (mostly from convention sketches), and a short comic (“Ten Pen Creep: A Revival Beer Mystery”) from the collaboration with Arcade Brewery on a Revival themed 6-Pack Story. Seeley praises Norton’s constancy on the series, so one final note on the art. The characters are heavily modeled on real-life Wausau (where Seeley lived for 20 years), so that probably helps with the variety of character designs, and the realistic body types portrayed. Dana and Em are sisters, so it’s reasonable for them to have a strong family resemblance. But freckles are often used to differentiate characters–giving them both freckles created some confusion for me, right up to the end. A small detail which had little effect on my enjoyment.