The Crow Special Edition
- Words: James O'Barr
- Art: James O'Barr
- Inks: James O'Barr
- Publisher: Titan Books
- Price: £16.99
- Release Date: Aug 26, 2011
Posted by Andy Oliver on Sep 19, 2011
Anybody who loves the medium of comics in all its vast, sprawling diversity will have a small compartmentalised part of their brain set aside for those items that fall under the category of books one should really have read by now but hasn’t quite got around to yet. If, like me, The Crow is also one of those hugely influential, cult favourite titles that you always meant to read but never have, then Titan Books’ release of this definitive author’s edition of the story is the ideal opportunity to investigate James O’Barr’s evocative, dark morality tale.
Eric and Shelley are a young couple whose idyllic relationship is the foundation on which the tragedy of The Crow is built. When this loving couple’s car breaks down in a remote spot, they are violently attacked by a feral street gang, high on drugs. While Eric is shot and left for dead, Shelley is raped and brutally murdered. Such is the strength of their commitment to each other, though, that Eric’s soul cannot move on until he has punished their attackers. Thus is born The Crow, a powerful otherworldly spirit of vengeance.
From that summary, The Crow sounds like it could be any one of a multitude of stock tales of retribution and, indeed, the idea of revenge from beyond the grave is hardly a premise steeped in originality. However, what marks The Crow out is not the innovation, or lack thereof, of its plot but the way in which that plot is delivered in such an affecting and haunting way. Superficially, The Crow may appear to be a supernatural thriller or a violent tale of revenge and retribution. At its heart, however, it’s a love story; one that draws the reader inescapably into its spellbinding power.
This version of The Crow has been revised and expanded to present the material in a way in which creator James O’Barr originally intended, with new sequences adding extra depth to Eric and Shelley’s backstory. If you were unaware of it before, O’Barr’s personal investment in this story (explained in the collection’s foreword) puts a differing slant on the Punisher-esque violence, as the reader becomes aware of his emotional interest in the project and the cathartic release it was designed to be.
Although O’Barr’s style of storytelling is very much of its time, it doesn’t necessarily seem dated. Admittedly, it does feel slightly raw in places: you can’t ignore the sometimes overly portentous narration or the occasionally rather strained metaphors in the dialogue. However, The Crow Special Edition remains an incredibly potent testament to the power of love; atmospheric, ominous, and impossible to put down. If you’ve dismissed The Crow in the past as looking like an avoidable, angst-ridden Gothfest then think again. Brooding and dark this book may be, but its intensity and passion will stay with you long after you’ve reached its last poignant page.
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Richard Boom Sep 19, 2011 at 2:28pm
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa... gotta have this one!!! Thanks man! Did not know such a great colection had been issued yet!!
Andy Oliver Sep 19, 2011 at 2:52pm
You're welcome Rich. One of the best things about comps is that you end up reading books you wouldn't otherwise and being introduced to some cracking work. This was a bit of a previous omission in my reading admittedly...
Richard Boom Sep 19, 2011 at 3:03pm
:D Sounds like a plan! PS this is most likely only the first miniseries?
Andy Oliver Sep 19, 2011 at 4:23pm
I believe so Rich. But with new material.
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