Jamie Osterberg is dead and in his place is the Crow. That character switch is the most noticeable element of the second issue of The Crow: Death & Rebirth #2. Here’s the official description from IDW:
“Death, My Revelation.” The Crow has been reborn in blood and loss through something that may be worse than death. Displaced spirits, torn from their living bodies, wander Tokyo as the mystery deepens. The Crow is on a mission of vengeance, his samurai sword splashing blood… but he must also uncover hidden truths as he penetrates level after level of secrets within the shadowy corridors of Biotrope… and the dark recesses of a mysterious island off the coast of Japan.
First, a quick note on the book’s title: the cover and some websites, including IDW’s, list this book simply as The Crow. Other sources, like the credits page and the fine print, call it The Crow: Death & Rebirth. I’ve added the subtitle for this review out of deference to the fine print, which I consider the final arbiter of a book’s actual name. However, I imagine you’ll be able to find the book easily enough, with or without the subtitle.
In issue one, John Shirley focused heavily on the characters, building a connection with the reader. Some of that work seems wasted now. Yes, we feel the loss of the characters, but with Yumi gone, and Jamie so changed, we have no emotional anchors in the story. Jamie’s new Crow persona is also a difficult character to deal with. He’s very quippy, despite his dour appearance and behavior, and I’m not sure how much of Jamie’s personality remains in him. It’s not a problem that I don’t know what to think of the Crow character. It’s a problem that I don’t even know what Shirley wants me to think of him.
The plot also jumps back and forth quite a bit, and introduces new elements without warning, which sometimes makes it difficult to follow. I always figure out what is going on, but having to do so pulls me out of the story’s flow.
Kevin Colden‘s art is consistent with the previous issue. He relies heavily on his inks, which is understandable, as it fits the atmosphere of the story. Those inks really dominate the art. Most panels can be characterized by their inks’ volume and roughness, and huge black swaths are often used as background.
In the last issue, the character Hendra seemed to be made up of negative space. Here it’s the Crow himself who is an absence, a hole in the world. His emptiness, however, has a bluish tint, that makes me wonder how it was applied. It almost looks like white-out applied over the inks. Regardless of the method, it’s a striking look.
With The Crow: Death & Rebirth #2, John Shirley delivers an okay story that struggles to embrace the loss of the principle characters. Kevin Colden’s artwork still lends eerie atmosphere and a slight impressionistic quality. If the art was your favorite part of the first issue, you should enjoy this one well enough.