Violence Against Women in Revival (And why Seeley and Norton Are NOT Misogynists)

3 Feb

The following contains *SPOILERS!* If you haven’t read issues 1-6 of Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton published by Image Comics; first of all what’s wrong with you, go pick it up! And secondly you might want to check back after you’ve caught up.

So, the girls in the series Revival take their fair share of lumps. I do not think that means that the creators have some awful grudge against the fairer sex. Here’s why, more often than not; the women get up. They don’t limp lamely to a refrigerator and wait for a man in tights to come to the rescue. It should be noted that they dish it, and take it. The team takes the time to show the consequences of violence in the world they have created in Central Wisconsin.

The whole getting up when you get knocked down thing can be applied pretty literally here. I mean, with the whole “reviving” shtick, some characters are basically a walking Chumbawamba chorus.

All images used in this post are from Mike Norton’s interior artwork.


Arlene Dittman is basically unstoppable. She survives, and survives, and survives. Arlene provokes a great deal of the violence that she endures. I have to say, the reflexive nature of these conflicts is one of the major reasons that I am on board with this series. No one cries foul, or starts picketing when Batgirl lands a punch on Catwoman’s face. I like to think that is what we are seeing here. I mean just look at the havoc Arlene was creating.


Chopping the top of someone’s skull off with the farm implement that they just impaled you with=fair play. Look what Arlene did to her own daughter.


Arlene eventually ends her own life by setting fire to the funeral home where her daughter’s wake was being held. The end she meets is her own decision and it seems a great relief to her.

Martha, or “Em,” as she prefers; gets in enough trouble for ten issues of a cape comic every month.  She initiates a bar fight and winds up looking like this. When she is later confronted about her motivation, she state’s that the woman, “had it coming,” despite the fact that she never caused any physical damage, she seems to believe that her agency in initiating the fight gives her some sort of victory.Image

Part of the mystery in the series centers around the event that lead to Em’s initial revival. She and her sister, Dana, believe she was murdered, and they plan on finding out who is responsible. With the removal of the threat of death the murder becomes a symbol. Instead of simply being a tragedy, the murder functions to remind us of the pain and suffering caused by violence. Em is haunted by the experience, it effects her in ways the scrapes and altercations she later seeks out, do not. The idea of being a victim is something that she appears unable to tolerate. What is tougher than refusing to be a victim?

Em actually rescues another female character, May Tao. She shows great bravery facing down Blaine Abel, who attacks her with a giant wrench…


…And a bow and arrow


Eventually during a snow mobile (I am guessing that is what those things were, we have no such vehicles in Louisiana) chase, Em leaps from her own vehicle to Abel’s causing him to collide with a train. She takes him out, and ends up a little worse for wear herself.


Of course she gets up and walks away moments later. Again I want to say that the damage here is a product of Em’s own scheme. She is willing to sacrifice her body (though with the knowledge that she will heal, I don’t know if the word sacrifice applies) to stop a man who did this to May Tao.


Unlike Seeley and Norton, the character they created, Blaine Abel, seems to really have it out for women. He physically threatens young Kelly Merrit during her would be exorcism. He begins his conversation with May like this:


I’d like to say that May, possessing no special training or superhuman powers fights back here. She tries pepper spray, and does not go quietly. Abel eventually overpowers her and ties her up in a subtly symbolic manner on the back of a tow truck as seen above. (Okay, so maybe its not that subtle, Abel’s not really one subtlety.) Abel even goes after poor Mrs. Vang, jabbing a rake in her back and leaving her for dead in her own basement.


In this case May rescues Mrs. Vang, who at the time I write this has survived her attack. Its not clear how stable her condition is, but she is able to carry on a conversation with May in the hospital. She is not giving in either. I love that these female characters rescue one another, and then need help themselves from time to time. It reminds me that women are nurturing, often selfless, and powerful allies.

Dana is a trained police officer, the episodes of violence that involve her are a result of professional responsibility. She is attacked by Arlene Dittman in the first issue of the series during an investigation. Later in issue 6, she gets into a physical struggle with Jamie Hettinga’s enraged husband Rick. Image

Dana is not maliciously attacked, but instead faces threats because of the job that she was empowered enough to take on, and that’s tough. Similarly, Jamie Hettinga stands up for her belief that reviving is a miracle, and takes criticisms and threats as a result of her stance.


The murder of her step-brother and lover, Justin Hine, seems to have the aim of terrorizing her. The doubly deviant affair (adultery and incest-ish) is reveled in the same breath as the gruesome disembowelment of the object of her affections.


By showing the effects that this grizzly murder has on Jamie, the creative team once again reminds us of the consequences of violence, and the way it so often effects the loved ones of the victim in ways they couldn’t expect. I’d like to thank them for making not making Jamie the victim here, but allowing us to see her response and learn more about her character.

Rick seems unhinged, possibly by the news of Jamie and Justin’s affair, or by the murder of Justin in a more general sense. He goes to the home of Nurse Ann Moss to speak with Anders Hine (the reviving father of the pair). Even a character as minor as Moss stands her ground in the face of a threat.


So, from the main characters to the most minor; Seeley and Norton never allow a woman to go quietly. They stand and fight, for each other, for their lives, and for what they believe in. In the chaos of this world these women are warriors. There is nothing weak about this cast.

Follow me on Twitter @comicsonice

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