One existential question has haunted humans since time immemorial: Is there life after death? If there is life after death, what does that life look like? How do we get there? Does what we do in this life affect our next life? Reborn by Mark Millar and Greg Capullo tackles these questions, creating a world where people and pets are reborn according to the good and evil in their hearts and deeds.

The first panel opens in Minneapolis in 2002 with a serial sniper picking off victims. Fourteen years pass and we find Bonnie remembering Harry, the husband she lost to the sniper, as well as the death of her parents and close friends. As she faces her remaining days in a stroke ward, she reflects on her life and wonders if anything in life really matters. Her caretaker reassures her, “The longer we’re here, the more we have an impact. The world would be a different place if it hadn’t been for you.” Next we see Bonnie depart from her body as she has a stroke, slipping from reality into golden memories of the past. She awakens in a scarred sci-fi landscape, in a 25-year-old version of herself suited in armor. Immediately she is tackled to the ground, rescued from the attack from an enemy airship. As those around notice her presence, the battle halts. Everyone has been awaiting her as a prophesied hero and drop to their knees in fear or worship. As she adjusts to life in Adystria, the home to forces of good in a war-ravaged land, she finds her father, her childhood dog, and many old friends, but cannot find her husband. Her search for him leads to her destiny and forces her to choose what life she wants to live.

As a team, Millar and Capullo bring the world in Reborn alive with art and plotlines both gorgeous and gruesome. They blend the science fiction of airships and laser guns with the fantasy of fairies and dragons. Instead of being benevolent, the beautiful Fairy Queen is belligerent, furious to find her previous faith in Christ ill-founded. Fickle fairies, Viking vanquishers, and pony-size Pyrenees go head to head with desiccated demons, Frankensteined fiends, and lion-headed lizards. (Please be informed that the alliteratively-named author Mark Millar does not share this reviewer’s commitment to consonance.)

The art is beautiful and the story is engaging, but as a reader, I did want a bit more backstory on some characters and choices. Bonnie, her father, and her dog are all well-developed, as is the main antagonist, Golgotha. Finding Harry reveals a nice plot twist that prevents the story from being too formulaic. However, I want to know why Bonnie is the chosen one and what about her life in the past destined her for the life in Adystria. All we know is that she was a kind school teacher; is that all it takes to qualify as a prophesied hero? I loved the conflict that Estelle, Bonnie’s best friend, faces when she awakens in Adystria instead of a Christian heaven. Why did she come back as the Fairy Queen, and is she an example of free will in this alternate world where you come back as good but can choose to be evil? Are all cats evil, or just the ones who are bitter about being neutered?

Despite some flaws, overall, I enjoyed this comic and would strongly recommend it for reading and purchase. This comic is rated M for the violence and an occasional swear word (no F-bombs), but it lacks sexual content. I think it’s appropriate for teens and up on the shelves of a public or school library. Reborn, vol. 1 represents a complete story arc, but the world could lend itself to another arc if the artists so choose. I would be on board for a follow-up or for Millar and Capullo’s answers to other existential questions!

Reborn, vol. 1
by Mark Millar
Art by Greg Capullo
ISBN: 9781534306523
Image Comics, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: M

  • Joy

    Past Reviewer

    Joy is an MLS student at Emporia State University. She has an MA in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Kansas and has spent most of her career facilitating instruction--teaching college composition, tutoring at college writing centers, and training software customers. When she's not freelance copy editing or wrapped up in a book, she's likely playing with her pitbull, Nina Simone, drinking craft beer, or volunteering at an equine therapy program. She has a weakness for lists and spreadsheets, and she'd love to swap reading stats with you.

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