Created by, David F. Walker & Chuck Brown
Art by, Rico Renzi & Sanford Greene
Letters by, Clayton Cowles
Bitter Root is an antidote for a great evil that plagues society and soils the human soul creating Jinoo. The Jinoo are monsters, corrupted souls, infected by greed and hate. This story is about the resurrection of these monsters, or in a word – the “salvation” of human turned monster. In this issue, the author tells a story in parallel, Northern Mississippi long ago, and, Harlem in the present, which is 1924. This strategy fills out the narrative that the plague of the Jinoo is old, not new, and has been around probably as long as there have been human beings. The main characters, Cullen, Blink, and Ma must find a way to cure Berg who’s been infected with a special strand of evil that makes him incurable by bitter root. Cullen goes to an alienated ex-family member, Enoch, who has something beyond science with which to fight the monsters. As the battle to stop the monster’s rage in Harlem a new being arrives with a message of hope.
This is a densely written and compelling story that is part folklore, urban legend, and magic. It utilizes the backdrop of evil monsters to provoke a deeper reflection on society, how it is infected by hate, and how to combat these destructive forces. The author takes time to fill in the backstory of characters and their relationship with each other while the artist informs the reader of the emotional weight involved. For example, when Cullen leaves to appeal to Enoch to heal Berg, Blink begs him, orders him not to go while she sheds a tear. The scene says it all. This monster is killing my family but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to reach out to a man who betrayed the family. The issue keeps the grievances held between Enoch and the family cryptic. However, these types of dynamics are compelling, fulfilling and a regular part of the story.
And again, the character work is full of surprises. Like Ma, who appears to be well along in age, wielding a magic-looking glove while pounding the monster-infected Berg in the chest. While the lasting impact of this last-ditch effort has yet to be revealed, the impression is unforgettable. Ma is a tough cookie. By utilizing the older matriarch in this way, the writer reinforces the importance of her, and all mothers, in this world. They are an ancient institution with longitudinal strength easily recognizable within the fabric the society the author has built. The most compelling part of this story is that I have no idea where it’s going and that excites me. I highly recommend that you pick up this book along with issues #1 & #2 because this is shaping up to be a gem. Overall = 9.5/10