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Written By: Mark Millar
Art By: Greg Capullo
Published: October 12, 2016 by Image Comics
There’s no denying that when it comes to comics each of us have our favorite creators. Those creators that have done something special in our eyes. I’m not talking about books that we enjoy, or books that put a smile on our face. No, I’m talking about those books, those creators, that when someone asks you about THAT particular book, you lose your mind. Words don’t do it justice, and when people disagree…they’re dead to you. Mark Millar and Greg Capullo are two creators that I’m definitely fanatical about. So you can imagine how my inner fanboy reacted when I heard they were creating a book together. There was zero chance I would not fall in love with Reborn, and it delivered such an enjoyable experience that I’ve read it about ten times thus far.
Normally, I breakdown certain aspects of the art or storytelling when I talk about comics. I like to analyze why certain things work with storytelling, and how the art affects those things. With this book however, I’m about to go a little overboard with that. This post isn’t going to be about why I love this book, instead, it’s going to be why I love Mark Millar and Greg Capullo’s work, and how the two of them have created something amazing in Reborn. Also, this post is going to be a little longer than normal, but I’m losing my mind over how great this book is.
First off, before I get into a total fanboy meltdown, allow me to give you the short version of what Reborn is about. Basically, Reborn follows the death of an elderly woman…sounds exciting right? Just kidding, I know that’s boring, but stay with me here, it gets so much better. Over the course of issue one we see a series of murders and odd deaths, then the final moments of our elderly lady. She has this moment of life flashing before her eyes, past moments she remembers, and it’s somewhat serene. Yet, it’s not her life that’s the interesting part of this book, heck, it’s not even her death that hooks us. Instead, this book is all about what happens after you die, and once our old lady kicks the bucket, this book takes a turn for the wild side, and hooks you with the most awesome setup I’ve seen in a long time.
It turns out there’s no heaven or hell, but instead a massive fantasy/sci-fi war going on wherein all the people you’ve known in life have been waiting for you…oh and they’re all battle hardened warriors who kick some serious butt. Upon death, there’s simply a flash of light, and then whammo, you go from a normal life to a war torn world full of magic and robo-tech armor…oh and a huge battle dog named Roy-Boy. For our elderly lady, she goes from living in a care facility and having a stroke in the bathroom to awaking fully armored standing under a vehicle hovering in the sky. Sounds cool right? Well, there’s one problem, she has no idea what’s going on and this spaceship/hover machine is now trying to murder her face.
Honestly, if that doesn’t do it for you, well, I’m sorry you’re dead inside. This book was awesome, and is twenty different kinds of cool. With that said, I’m now going to talk about why Millar’s storytelling and Capullo’s art make this more than just another cool comic.
What’s so special about Mark Millar? Well, frankly, this guy knows how to tell great stories. My first intro to Millar was Jupiter’s Circle, and I’m not even going to get into how great that series is. Just go read it, and thank me later. Yet, to say he’s a great storyteller is underselling things. What makes Millar standout, for me, and why Reborn is such a great book, is that this story is anything but typical. Millar has a great sense of character development in a short amount of time, while also including subtle elements of world building, all wrapped inside clever ideas. I’ve never read something Millar has written, at least outside the Big 2, wherein it feels like I’ve read it before. He manages to keep things fresh, interesting, while using solid techniques that work.
With Reborn we’re given mystery in that we see all kinds of weird deaths, and just a hint that these deaths are more than random, horrible events. We learn of our elderly lady, but she’s immediately different because she scared of dying. With nothing more than a couple of panels we’re instantly drawn into this woman’s fear, and we sympathize with her. Then, we the readers are spun almost instantly because we feel her fear, then it’s realized only moments later when she dies. Yet, those emotions are tempered because the elements of the afterlife are introduced leading us away from the fear of death and into the intrigue of the afterlife. Finish that off with the introduction of the main premise of the book and things are moving at light speed. We’re given the sudden impending doom wherein this airship is trying to murder our freshly deceased lady, and we finish that up with the introduction of an entirely new world wherein fantasy creatures and science fiction weapons and armor are the norm.
This is what Millar does with 23 pages of storytelling, and it never once even hints at feeling bloated or overdone. The pacing is amazing, the scene switches are great at keeping things fresh and overall it sets up a few different aspects of the story while not overselling anything. If you haven’t picked up what I’m laying down here allow me to summarize…I’d read Millar’s grocery list because it would probably blow my mind. This man can write a mean comic, and I love him for it.
Now, allow me to move onto Capullo’s contribution to this hurricane of greatness. My first experience of Capullo’s work goes all the way back to the mid 90’s when he took over the reins of drawing Spawn. It was then and there that I became a fan, and I’ve been buying anything he draws ever since. Why? What makes his art so special? Well, first and foremost this dude can draw. I’m not talking about his ability to put pencil to paper and hulk out dudes fighting other dudes, no. What Capullo brings to the table in the form of artwork is nothing short of visual storytelling. Now, I can hear you asking, “Don’t all artists in comics do that?” Well, yes, but what makes Capullo’s style so different is the sheer level of movement and life you find in every single panel. There isn’t one moment in a book wherein it looks like he didn’t give it his best, and his best is nothing short of top tier work.
In Reborn, Capullo brings to life every aspect of Millar’s storytelling. Every page flows from beginning to end with dazzling visuals, perfect camera angles, expressive characters, and these frozen-in-time moments. Capullo is, in my opinion, one of the strongest, maybe THE strongest visual storyteller in the business right now. He just understands all the intricacies of what makes a good story, then expresses that in ever panel of every page. You can almost feel the movement as you read the books he’s drawn. The best part, with each book I’ve read of his, there’s a familiarity in style alongside a freshness to his art.
His more recent run was five years on Batman with Snyder, and if you were to compare the art of those with Reborn you’ll definitely see his particular style, but you’ll also find that there’s a difference in how he presents it. It’s as if Capullo tailors what he’s drawing to fit with the writer he’s working with. I’m not sure if it’s an intentional thing, or just something that happens, but it is because of that familiar style mixed with subtle changes that really elevates his work above all else.
With all of that said, and as you can see I am a huge fan of both Millar and Capullo, Reborn is nothing short of a phenomenal comic. It’s clever, interesting, refreshing, and beautiful, and if you haven’t picked up the first issue, or you’re still not sold on this book, all I can do is assume you don’t enjoy great comics. For me, this book has all the potential in the world to become my favorite book of the year.