Created by and Story by Shannon Eric Denton & Keith Giffen
Written by Rob M. Worley and Drawn by Mateus Santolouco
Published by
Desperado Publishing

THE REVENANT is a darkly humorous and thrilling tale that consistently keeps the reader laughing, guessing and horrified at nearly every turn. This books manages to blend the classic ghost-takes-revenge story idea, a whodunnit mystery and plenty of action sequences into a seamless, fast-paced and immensely enjoyable read.

THE REVENANT opens with a tried and true “Meet the Bad Guys” scene, which turns out to be quite the multi-cultural group of criminal overlords. We have both a chunky Asian pedophile, a slimmer Asian entrepreneur, a bad-ass Black gangster and a Hispanic car thief. “Captain Planet” meets the penal colony in Aliens 3.

The author expertly doles out clues as the story goes on that piece together a timeless tale of bloodshed, betrayal and revenge. Despite the seemingly clear signals of where the story with go, Worley still manages to keep the reader at least partially in the dark. By offering tidbits of history as REVENANT unfolds, we remained engaged in the story until the very end.

The gangster characters are not too far off the path from the type of villains mystery and comic fans have encountered previously, although some have definitely been tweaked (the pedophile has large she-males for bodyguards). The Revenant himself, however, is a bad joke/pun/wise-cracking smart-ass vengeful spirit, which translates into an extremely entertaining anti-hero. Note the anti, because The Revenant ain’t no Peter Parker. Make no mistake, this spectre is not here to enlighten the bad guys to the error of their ways, or to make sure they end up in jail. The Revenant is here to kill the men who killed him, and he’s going to enjoy every second of the carnage.

So this isn’t the type of hero you want at your kid’s birthday party, but he is still a good man in the sense he wishes to protect the innocent… as well as wreak bloody revenge on his enemies. Plus, he is immensely fun to watch when he’s taking down the evil doers of Sapphire City. He faces danger with the bravado and balls of a man who has already met death, and he wasn’t impressed. Yet things are not as straight-forward as they seem with several of the characters, keeping the mystery aspect of the book alive and well throughout the story.

The art is extremely well done and I hope to see more of Santolouco in the future on projects like this. If the comic world cannot hold onto a developing gem like him then Desperado needs to work on its benefit package. Sharp, clear lines detract from finer details in the faces of the characters, but add so much to the background and skyline panels. The characters nonetheless stood out, never giving one pause as to who was who (unless the writer desired such confusion). The only exception to that being the brunette eye candy who’s debut panel has her in an ensemble which mimics that of Jessica Rabbit, making the image of a red-headed cleavage-y hare-lover hard to shake from one’s head.

The colors are utterly outstanding, never missing a chance to really make the story jump out even more than it already does. The opening panels are coated with flame-like colors which immediately speak of the fire and passion contained within the book, just like the indigo blues support the dark, enigmatic scenes precluding the Revenant’s appearance. Not to mention the “hero” himself is adorned with an un-ethereal bluish-white glow whenever he faces his foes.

THE REVENANT is an exciting book which offers a titillating mixture of old-school mystery, head-busting gore, classic revenge and a sarcastic leading man. The fantastic ride is enough to make up for the disappointing villain who appears at the end of the epilogue. Not only does he bear an appearance and moniker that is more laughable than intimidating, but it relates to nothing previously referenced in the book. Other than the very last page (most of the epilogue was as gripping as the rest of the book), THE REVENANT has proved itself to be a truly entertaining introductory graphic novel.

Avril Brown