The Perfect Comic for Black History Month in BITTER ROOT #4 (Review)
Story: David F. Walker & Chuck Brown
Art: Sanford Greene & Rico Renzi
Publisher: Image Comics
It’s been a long few weeks since we last visited the Sangeryes family, but here we are. I’ve been hooked on this series from the get-go. Thankfully my enthusiasm for this next issue did not lead me astray. As the series has progressed, I have found myself getting more and more attached to all of these awesome characters, and this week was no different after reading issue four. Our story is still in Harlem and the Jinoo are all running wild and terrorizing the city. The family has been split up throughout all of this doing their individual part to stop all of this madness driven by hate. Berg has been bitten a couple of issues back, and Ma Etta is doing everything she can to stop the transformation. She realizes that even though his appearance is starting to change, his voice seems no different. She seems to think there may be hope for Berg after all. And a shred of hope goes a long way in this dreary situation like this because just right outside, cousin Blink is getting overrun by a hoard of Jinoo all on her own. Berg realizes her struggle, and in the most comic book of ways, he bursts out of the house to his cousin’s aid. Even Ma Etta gets her chance to show she is more than capable of holding her own in a scuffle. With all of the commotion outside, she gets attacked by someone she brought in to try to prevent from turning. Etta has been talking a big game for three issues now, but she clearly put here money where her mouth was in this situation. After she takes care of her business, she hears a commotion and goes outside to see another Sangeryes, Ford, along with his new travel partner Johnny. Meanwhile, Cullen has set out to find his Uncle Enoch, whom may have some answers to the unordinary Jinoo they have been seeing, like the one that bit Berg. On their way back to the house, the two have to traverse through an insane hoard. In all this action, we get the deepest and probably most important plot line in the story so far through a message of wisdom delivered by Uncle Enoch. This coming up when Cullen saves a cured random townsperson and he is confused as to how he was able to turn. Exclaiming “Black folks… we don’t turn into Jinoo”, Enoch explains that it goes beyond just that hate that drives the Jinoo. There is a flip side to the coin called “Inzondo”. Souls ravaged by sorrow and pain can also be infected. However you decipher Walker’s message is up to you, but keep in mind the era of our story: 1919, Harlem. Either way, I am sure there is something deeper to take away from all of that conversation than just furthering the plot. But I digress. As if the getaway chase wasn’t enough already, the trio are met with the “Harbingers of Retribution”, being led by a massively creepy devil-like creature. Not long into this fight, a portal opens up and Cullen is snagged away. By whom? No clue, but I cannot wait to find out!
This writing team has been giving me something I didn’t know I wanted, and making me crave more and more as the story progresses. Walker and Brown clearly have a message to get across, but they are doing it in an elegant way. In the month of February, it would only make sense for this story to hit as hard as it did, compared to past issues. This book goes beyond just the message though. We are getting an awesome team story with incredibly differing characters, even though they all come from the same family. Everyone has their own voice in my head already, and considering these are all brand new characters, you can only credit the creative team for that type of delivery. Every time I know I am about to see two new Sangeryes in a panel together for the first time I get a little giddy. Everyone in the family has a unique and fun dynamic with one another, which only makes for exciting reading. I think that as long a these two can keep the balance between their storytelling and their message without shying away in one way or another at this point, Bitter Root is going to remain one of my favorite indie titles on the shelf.
This art has been nothing but solid all throughout. Even with the colors, done by Rico Renzi, being mostly monotone (which isn’t a bad thing), deciphering these newly created characters is no chore. The way everybody and everything is designed and drawn all has its own uniqueness and qualities. Thus, making it easy to determine who is talking even from wide angle panels. When creating a group of characters as large as the Sangeryes family, on top of all of the the creatures and side characters we’ve seen so far, you can’t help but marvel at the creative depth Sanford Greene has. He clearly has a defined style, and I can find no wrong in his doings. I can’t stress how pleased I am with his ability to make all of these characters so distinguishable.
Like I stated earlier, I didn’t think I would be so on board with this book, but I totally am. I cannot say enough positive things about how this tale is progressing. Even with a message as strong (and possibly divisive) as this one delivers, this book really is for everyone due to the amazing character design and development, along with all the action you could want to see in a comic book. This creative quartet makes me want to learn more and more about the Sangeryes family as often as I can. Bring on issue number five!
As long a these two can keep the balance between their storytelling and their message without shying away in one way or another at this point, Bitter Root is going to remain one of my favorite indie titles on the shelf.