Since IDW picked up The Crow it’s been hit or miss with me. Since I missed the first round of Crow comics from creator James O’Barr, I only have the IDW titles to go off of and again there have been some good and some bad. Where does The Crow: Pestilence fall then? The story is of course about a dead man coming back to life via the Crow spirit to seek vengeance upon the men that killed him and his loved ones. This isn’t always the case as we saw with The Crow: Curare, but it’s the formula that most people are aware of. Our Crow this time around is a boxer by the name of Salvador. He was set to throw a fight and took a large payment to do so, but also bets on himself as well. Well things don’t go well and his child ends up being killed and his wife raped and murdered before him and then he too takes the dirt nap.
The story bounces between the past and the present. Salvador is different from other Crow’s in the fact that he doesn’t remember anything. He barely seems to know why he’s there until he finds “Raw Dog” and suddenly remembers aspects of his return. It also helps that he jacks Raw Dog’s memories and begins hunting the rest of the “pack.”
The art for this story is okay. It’s not bad as far as technique and execution goes, but it struggles with the character design and action sequences. When Salvador faces off with Raw Dog it’s very choppy. I understood what was happening, but there was nothing fluid about it. It takes you out of the moment and instead of seeing the Crow doing an awesome kill or something it’s over and done with before you know it. The character designs struggled to be different. There’s a woman and her child introduced at the beginning of the story and then we’re introduced to Salvador’s wife and kid later in the story and they’re basically the same. If you pay attention to the story you know that they’re not, but it’s still confusing visually and that’s never good in a comic. I'm sure there was some intention to have them look similar, but it ends up going beyond that. There is a cool scene when Salvador has the crow wings on his back, but that was about it.
The story is… dull. There’s just nothing special about Salvador and when he does something it’s predictable. There was nothing satisfying about his killing of Raw Dog (if he’s even dead because it happens so fast). The kills, believe it or not, are important to the lore of The Crow. The character is back to extract vengeance and leave a message... don't mess with the innocent or the Crow will rectify it the most heinous of ways. The rest of the dialogue is basically exposition and when you add in the lengthy narration, it turns into a lot of reading and not the fun kind. The narration I believe is from the actual Crow (the bird) itself, but it’s just more exposition really. There seems to be an added element this time around that may be a part of the Crow or at least just running throughout the arc. It didn’t grab me at all and barely stood out.
How did The Crow: Pestilence fair compared to its IDW counterparts? Average. It’s not the worst Crow story I’ve read, but it certainly didn’t grab my attention or even attempt to break the mold (at least not with this issue). It may be worth checking out the second issue, but if it continues on this path I don’t seem much reason to come back to a story we all know the outcome too due to the pre-established formula of the series.
Writer: Frank Bill Artist: Drew Moss Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/12/14