Reanimator #1 Can’t See the Story for the Action

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Reanimator #1 Cover A by LeeReanimator #1is a cluttered comic, not so much in terms of characters, but just in the fact that it’s throwing far too much at us in its first issue.

If you’re unfamiliar with Reanimator, and you have kind of a sick sense of humor, I highly recommend the original movie, upon which this comic is based (which, in turn, is based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft). Herbert West is the reanimator of the title, a medical student who has developed a serum to return the dead to life. However, the serum is far from perfect, and the results of his experiments are often monstrous.

It should be noted that West previously appeared in the Army of Darkness comic, as well as a one-shot in 2005. The credits page gives a brief history of West, most of which seems to be from these other comics. I’m wary of all this backstory, especially as an obvious plot point in this comic has its origin in the previous series.

But enough of all that! This comic sees the introduction of Susan Greene, a doctor who sells stolen drugs as a sideline because she needs a thrill in her life. The dealers attack her, and she is rescued by West and his hulking assistant, the Valusian. He promptly uses his serum to bring one of the dealers back to life, with the usual result. Then he offers Susan a job! Well, she was looking for a thrill! Naturally, she accepts.

Side note here: I really don’t like the way West is drawn in this book. In the movies, Jeffrey Combs is charismatic, and he makes the character of West fascinating. But in this comic, West looks like a creep. His facial expressions and gestures are those of someone whom most people would go out of their way to stay away from. It just doesn’t work.

Anyway, Susan goes off to work for West, who, it turns out, is funding his research by selling drugs. Namely, a drug he has discovered in the pineal gland of resurrected corpses. And here’s where things start to go off the rails. He’s selling his drug exclusively to a New Orleans-based syndicate called The Eldritch Krewe, who also worship Cthulhu. It seems you can’t do anything based on Lovecraft without dragging Cthulhu into it. Actually, I’m fine with this. It’s the fact that the comic then also brings in another syndicate, teasing the possibility of a gang war, that has me concerned that there may be too much going on here.

And then there’s Susan! Toward the end of the issue, she begins to have doubts about being West’s assistant. Not because of any ethical dilemma, mind you – don’t be ridiculous! No, she discovers that West may have played a role in her fiancé’s murder. Oh, did I forget to mention that her fiancé was murdered and that that’s why she’s been doing all of this dangerous thrill seeking? Yeah, so did the comic.

You know who’s hardly in this comic? Herbert West. You know – the Reanimator. The one the comic is named after. He’s lost in the shuffle. There’s way too much going on, as though the writer is afraid to let the story go at a more natural pace. And the biggest casualty is that the main draw of the comic is hardly in it. I like the property, and I’d like to see a new story with West. I just hope this comic can sort out these problems.

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