Women, Women Everywhere: The Female Dominant Cast of Revival

2 Feb

This week I sat down and read issues 1-6 of the new Image series Revival (written by Tim Seeley, art by Mike Norton, covers by Jenny Frison.) It was wonderful. There are a ton of strong women in the cast, which is worth noting since they essentially don’t have to be there. These roles could have gone to men; the story could have easily supported an all male cast, but instead Seeley chooses to showcase women with a wide variety of temperaments, ages, and histories. Good for him.

So spoilers start here.

I want to take a look at the cast for a moment. First there’s Dana Cypress: single mom, police officer, sister and daughter. She seems insecure and often makes fun of herself, and focuses her efforts on taking care of those around her instead of herself.  (This and all other images are from Mike Norton’s interior artwork.)

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Her younger sister Martha “Em” Cypress becomes very important to the story early on. She is a student, favorite child, and amateur poet, and reviver. Martha seems a bit flighty and absent-minded. The revelation that she is a reviver seems to reinforce her reckless tendencies. She has a hard time accepting affection or praise, and seldom smiles.

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Next we meet the antihero, or maybe the villain, its great to have so much moral grey to work with; Arlene Dittman who is a reviver, struggling with what has happened to her.Image

Arlene murders her daughter, Theresa “Terry” Stankowicz during an episode of rage brought on feeling cheated because she is unable to die and rest in peace. Again it is very interesting to note that this episode involves two women.

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Arlene struggles with what she has done. Her soul is tarnished, her daughter gone, and her very existence is in her own word an, “abomination.” Her story helps put the seemingly miraculous phenomenon of the dead coming back to life in perspective.

Kelly Merrit appears in only one issue (issue 2) so far. She fakes a demonic possession and effectively “exorcised” by Blaine Abel, who knows what she is up to. She is driven to act out this way because everyone’s attention is diverted by the revivers. She is desperate to be noticed. This extreme case shows a response to the revival that one might expect of a angst ridden young person. (The image below is taken from Jenny Frison’s cover of issue 2)

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The woman Em confronts in a local pub is a hossy lady with a mean streak. I mention her because the job of kicking Em’s ass could have been given to a male character very easily. Instead we see a woman acting in a physically aggressive, brutal manner, Seeley includes a whole new type of female character here.

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Thang Vang seems harmless upon her first appearance, but as the story progresses we realize that some major action revolves around her and the choices she has made.

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Then we meet two female reporters. Each of these women take their profession very seriously, but beyond their similarities stop there; they are two very different people. First we meet Jamie Hettinga whose publicly sympathetic stance on revivers has brought some very negative attention her way…

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And May Tao, who has acquired celebrity status as the reporter who broke the reviver story nationally. May struggles with balancing ethical responsibility and professional notoriety.

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There is also a nice supporting cast including: Bonnie, the secretary at the police station; Ann Moss, the nurse for the Hine family who knows Jeet Kune Do; May’s editor, Bogs; and Ami, who works for the CDC.

Seeley and Norton do some incredible work here. Personally I believe they are on the right track; not characterizing these women solely by their gender, and allowing them to be different and three dimensional. I look forward to seeing what they do next.

I plan on writing more about these women created by Seeley and Norton in later posts. I am working on a piece about the violence against women in the series. Though many of them are victims, they refuse to be refrigerated. Also I want to look at the complicated relationships these characters have with sexuality. So, those are coming soon, stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter @comicsonice

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