When James O’barr was younger, he lost his girlfriend to a drunk driver and enrolled in the military to try and deal with his pain. But when that didn’t help, he decided to create “The Crow.” An original graphic novel about a young couple who are brutally murdered but the man is mysteriously brought back to life to avenge his and his fiancé’s deaths. The series was obscenely popular and lead to a film of the same name which to this day has a cult following. After some mediocre sequels and even a reboot helmed by other writers, O’Barr himself finally returns for this one shot graphic novel that puts a whole new spin of The Crow and its legacy.
World War II has been done to death in terms of comics, games, books and films. Countless mediums have brought us multiple tales from one of the greatest tragedies in human history and many people feel that WWII’s story has been told. But O’Barr gives us a one of kind tale that puts The Crow in a concentration camp during this time and sets the stage for a very brutal experience.
But before I do anything, I need to explain what The Crow is. When someone dies in an overly tragic and unjust manner (a murder or something similar), that person may be resurrected by the crow in order to gain vengeance against those who wronged them and their loved ones. These people are invulnerable to basically any damage and can heal all wounds from gunshots to broken limbs. Guided by a crow, who acts as the source of their power, they continue on their bloody mission and when it is done, they may finally find peace. Now that we have that covered:
The graphic novel only consists of three issues, so the story is limited when it comes to details. But that isn’t to say it is lacking. It has a brutal opening and for 80% of the book, the gore and violence continues as The Crow wreaks havoc on the camp and its soldiers, guided by a crow, which is sarcastic and a fun character in his own right. It’s only at the end that we reveal who this Crow was and why he’s doing what he’s doing. O’Barr doesn’t pussyfoot around and the reveal is brutal and emotional that allows you to see exactly why this man was resurrected as The Crow. Overall, it’s a really interesting story and unlike anything you’ll read. The characterization of each character is beautifully executed – especially the main villain and man in charge of the camp, the Commandant. He is a brutal and sick person that you’ll love to hate.
The art is somewhat cartoonish and doesn’t really compliment the story as well as it should. If the art style was more of, say, Alex Ross style, the story would have been a hauntingly beautiful one. But what we got instead is underwhelming and does nothing to add any impact to this brutal tale of vengeance. The art isn’t utterly horrid and the violence is actually pretty stylized, but the overall art is quite lacking.
With a great story and somewhat weak art covered, the only other issue with the book is that you’ll have to be familiar with The Crow legacy to understand the book. The story does nothing to explain the mystical powers and may leave some people confused as to why a man can survive a gunshot to the back of the head. That aside, this is a great book and O’Barr brings that familiar kind of magic he did to the original series and is something anyone can dig into.