Reborn #1 (Image Comics)
As you all know, Mark Millar’s claim to fame is grabbing the hottest artists in the comic book business and creating a bold new IP with them. He created Chrononauts with Sean Murphy, Huck with Rafael Albuquerque, and now Millar has teamed up with the one and only Greg Capullo to give us Reborn, and what a comic it is. Focusing on a new, war-like view of the afterlife, Reborn stands as not only one of Millar’s best debut issues, it’s also one of the coolest debut issues of the year.
Bonnie Black has lived a long life, and it’s coming to an end. But unlike most fictional characters that are about to meet their makers, Bonnie isn’t ready to die. While she’s been lost since a crazed sniper murdered her husband decades ago, Bonnie isn’t ready to be reunited with him. She doesn’t know what’s waiting for her on the other side of light, but after she suffers a final, life-ending stroke, she’s transported to a warzone, where she has to fight to survive. But she’s back in her young body, and her fellow warriors are her long dead family members. So where is she? Heaven? Hell? Somewhere else?
That’s a question that Millar doesn’t answer quite yet, but he does deliver a really interesting and unique take on the afterlife. Instead of just going to heaven or hell, you’re put in your “perfect self” and placed in battle. It’s a great idea that yes, sounds like a movie pitch, but much like a lot of Millar’s current work, there’s a great deal of heart to be found in Reborn. The first half of the book deals with Bonnie’s life, and how she’s lived it. We see her happiest moments, but they’re all given a slight tinge of sadness, as many of the people who were in those moments are long gone. In a lot of ways, Bonnie’s story has a lot of parallels with Starlight’s Duke McQueen, another elderly Millar protagonist who becomes a stronger person once they leave Earth. It’s these human moments that really help make Reborn (and other recent Millar works) stand out.
What also helps is Greg Capullo’s absolutely insane artwork. We’ve all seen what he can do with Batman, but Capullo lets loose with Reborn. There’s crazy monsters, gigantic battles, huge dudes swinging axes and swords, and even a war dog. But like Millar’s script, Capullo doesn’t forget the human moments in Reborn, and if I’m being honest, those moments were even better than the action scenes. Capullo is able to give a simple panel of Bonnie and her husband watching TV a ton of emotional heft. If you weren’t convinced that Capullo is a master after his run on Batman, Reborn will definitely convince you.
Reborn is not just another solid introductory issue for Millar; it’s a great piece for Greg Capullo to show off his skills. I was a little worried about how these two would work together, but so far they’ve done an incredible job. If you’re looking for a unique comic that has a ton of heart, Reborn is it.