Written by: Frank Barbiere
Art by: Garry Brown & Lauren Affe
Aside from Five Ghosts, I’ve never been super high on anything Frank Barbiere has written. It’s all felt a bit over written and exposition heavy for my taste, which is unfortunate. The man has a knack for writing solid dialogue and crafting really cool stories, I just couldn’t get through some of the issues he wrote. Revisionist #1 is very different. Barbiere’s writing is streamlined here. It doesn’t feel overwrought, and there’s just enough of it to create an interesting set of characters and a plot I cant get behind.
The issue kicks off by tossing the reader right into the action. It’s not necessarily unfamiliar – after all, the plot seems to be a fairly by the numbers time travel story. Regardless, the first few pages do a really good job of developing a sense of intrigue. The exact circumstances aren’t made immediately clear, but rather than leaving the reader in the dark, Barbiere actually takes the reader back to the beginning of the story.
Again, this isn’t exactly revolutionary storytelling. I’m a sucker for time travel stories though, so my interest will be maintained pretty easily. However, if time travel stories aren’t enough of a selling point, Revisionist #1 does differentiate itself. Also, are you crazy? How don’t you love time travel stories? I digress.
First, Revisionist #1 does a really great job of establishing mood. A lot of this actually has to do with Garry Brown’s art, which is very good. It’s evocative of Sean Murphy, which is never a bad thing. Brown’s uses shadows and silhouettes in a really neat manner. This allows him to play with how the reader interprets parts of the story. While the art in general is very impressive, this particular element is what I think makes it stand out.
The colors, courtesy of Lauren Affe, also do a lot to help establish a certain mood. I know it sounds cliched, but her color work is really what makes the visuals pop. Brown’s pencils lay the groundwork for the book’s visual storytelling, but Affe’s work is really what hammers it home. It’s also super cool to see a color pallet that changes throughout the issue. It makes Revisionist #1 much easier to appreciate on a purely visual level. The juxtaposition between the colors and the events of the panels is also a really cool stylistic choice.
In addition to stellar art, Revisionist #1 also boasts some excellent character work. It does an especially good job of establishing the main character, Marty. Every other character kind of acts as a foil to him, but his father and Killian could both turn out to be really cool characters unto themselves. Sure, the characters are kind of familiar stereotypes, but the book definitely feels like an homage to similar stories that have come before (which is something I really loved about Five Ghosts). That being said, it’s a really shame that the one female character is fridged about halfway through the issue. Even though it is a time travel story, her role is reduced to just motivation for Marty by the end of the issue, and that’s obviously a bummer.
Overall, I really liked Revisionist #1. I know that DC is launching Rebirth this week, but if you can find room in your pull list for something completely new, I recommend it be this book. It definitely has a lot of potential to go to some really cool places, but it isn’t over-reliant on that potential. It realizes much of its potential right off the bat, and that’s a rare occurrence.