THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI #1 BY ROBERTO RECCHIONI, WERTHER DELL'EDERA, AND GIOVANNA NERO
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Roberto Recchioni and Werther Dell'Edera have a new Crow! Bringing in the dark, nitty and gritty, THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI #1 establishes the perfect mood in the first few pages for this dark tale of revenge and retribution.
86 %
DIVINE RETRIBUTION
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Many of you might know the James O’Barr’s series THE CROW. Or you’re like me. I just heard about THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI #1 over the weekend and picked it up because, heck, it looked pretty hardcore.

The previous CROW series follows the story of Eric Draven, who (along with his girlfriend) is the victim of a brutal attack by street thugs. Eric’s girlfriend is killed, and Eric eventually dies in the hospital. Resurrected by the Crow, Eric looks for his murderers while reeling in grief at the loss of his girlfriend.

 

So, not the lightest story, but I picked up the new CROW series for curiosity’s sake. This title, from Roberto Recchioni, takes on a similar format. Terrorists murder a protagonist named David and his girlfriend, so the theme of death and vengeance continues. This series seems to start off just as dark as the original film, though it’s still hitting its stride at this early stage.

Talk About Dark and Stormy Night

The Crow: Memento Mori #1
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

The art direction of the comic feels appropriate, especially for the dark undertones throughout THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI #1. Alongside Recchioni, Werther Dell’Edera provides the comic’s vivid and stunning imagery, with colors done by Giovanna Niro. For a Gothic-esque comic, the art needs to match the narrative, and Dell’Edera and Niro really shine.

Dell’Edera’s backgrounds are gorgeous: they are illustrated with detailed precision. I stopped reading at times to admire the scenery Dell’Edera created for the comic, especially his cityscapes. His excellent command of dimension and perspective bring greater depth to the Gothic atmosphere of THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI #1. In several scenes, the team uses overhead angles to particularly strong effect as we see the world from David’s perspective. The perspective places David both literally and figuratively above the rest of the characters as he does God’s will.

The Crow: Memento Mori #1
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

As beautiful as the backgrounds are, it can be difficult to understand David’s expression. While I adore the use of heavy shadows on the background, for certain characters, the shadowing becomes distracting and is ultimately a drawback. If we can’t know much about David this early on, I would at least like to read some of his expressions. Otherwise, the art direction of THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI is off to a strong start.

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Serving Payback

When it comes down to the storyline, this comic follows a pretty simplistic layout. Guy feels wronged, gets a feel for divinity, becomes the figurehead of holy retribution, and is on the hunt for the group that did him and his S.O. dirty. Pretty standard, really. Despite the simplicity of the storyline, this issue establishes itself with just the right amount of drama and grit. I’m a sucker for stories with religious quotations; you just know things are about to go down real quick. It also complements the comic’s mood, allowing us to channel the raw, visceral anger that flows through David’s body and the authority he exerts in carrying out these punishments on the people who murdered him.

The Crow: Memento Mori #1
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

As a new reader to the CROW series, the thematics of this story do feel a tad bit generic. It’s not a particularly new take on retribution narratives. The visual output of THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI #1 provides the necessary appeal to stick this one out, but not much in the plot pops. It seems likely that, as the first issue, this comic is just setting the stage for upcoming plot points. The first issue maintains a steady and well-paced narrative, but David remains an enigma throughout the story. Here’s hoping the next issue features more of an edification of David’s background and his role as the Crow.

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Dark Stories and a Darker Character

The Crow: Memento Mori #1
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI #1 does do a fantastic job establishing a gloomy and oppressive mood. This is a property that doesn’t shy from dark and aggressive material. Both the original story and this new series begin with the death of the protagonists and their girlfriends, about as grim as a beginning can be.

Still, there just isn’t much else to interpret from David or his backstory yet. Normally, first issues reveal only tidbits on the protagonist. Here, that’s David’s murder. Beyond that, though, the small pieces we get on David don’t offer as much characterization as I would have hoped. He exudes mystery but sometimes ventures into the unreadable because of the lack of depth to his character thus far. The other characters who appear in this first issue, meanwhile, do so briefly and seem to offer only minor conflict in the first place.

In the grand scheme of things, this issue is fine because it’s the first issue. The preview for the next comic seems to promise the layer of characterization that was absent in this issue in the next issue, and I hope it delivers on that front.

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Final Thoughts on THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI #1

I feel like I was thrust back into the early 2000s with this comic. It offers vibes similar to the aesthetics of CONSTANTINE and UNDERWORLD. Both have those grim and foreboding elements on a visual scale and narrative scale as well.

I somehow missed out on knowing about THE CROW when I was younger, and I certainly missed references to that movie in later films. But, while I have no frame of reference on how the series structured its plot originally, you can color me intrigued over THE CROW: MEMENTO MORI #1. My hope is that the harsher shading will ease up, and that the series will shed some light on David.

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