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Comic Book / Revival

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In Rothschild, Wisconsin, a small town surrounded by farms, people die sometimes. One day some of them come right back to life, just as if nothing had ever happened.

Some people handle it better than others.

Dana Cypress, a divorcee with a young son, is an officer in the Rothschild police department, and she's put in charge of policing the "Revivers," right as their existence is becoming national news. Now she gets to deal with the crimes that follow from the phenomenon, the media circus that erupts around it, and a series of increasingly violent murders committed by the revivers themselves.

Revival is a "rural noir" comic book published by Image Comics, written by Tim (Hack/Slash) Seeley and drawn by Mike Norton. It ran for 47 issues, from 2012 to 2017, as well as one crossover issue with Chew.


This work contains examples of:

  • Action Bomb: Diane acts as a suicide bomb to kill everyone in the courthouse in issue 29 on Ed Holt's suggestion, sticking an explosive inside her chest.
  • Action Girl: Em gets a defining character moment in the first issue by wielding a scythe against a reviver. She gets several more combats and is undefeated post-Revival.
  • Action Mom: A few.
    • Dana Cypress is a police officer responding to the most violent reviver-related crimes in the area. Her son Cooper thinks she's a superhero.
    • Weaver Fannie is a ninja assassin. Her daughter Atlee thinks she's a superhero.
    • Louise Cale is a fierce military administrator who also evenly matched a ninja assassin hand-to-hand. No word on what her son Jacob thinks.
  • Actual Pacifist: Randy the morgue technician becomes one after discovering that the John Doe he was incinerating came back to life mid-burn. Randy quit the job immediately to avoid injuring anyone else who might come in as a corpse-but-not. He's one of the leaders of a pacifist group that meets near the end of the series; by then the conflict has escalated to a shooting war between the US military and the libertarians' militia.
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  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Ibrahim Ramin is forced to inform for the CIA because his brother will be indefinitely imprisoned otherwise.
  • And I Must Scream
    • Jesse Blackdeer is in constant agony due to his revival during his own cremation.
      Emil Amherst: He has second and third degree burns over a hundred percent of his body. Normally, burns that deep destroy the nerve, and are considered "low to no pain". But due to his state of reanimation, he's constantly regenerating nerve tissue. Conversely, the damage is such that the process of healing we've seen on other revivers has been abated. Essentially, this man is trapped in a state of perpetual burning. He's in an induced coma because being conscious and outside that chamber? It would be a living hell, in the most literal form of the word I can conceive of.
    • Aaron Weimar is repeatedly drowned and revived by the water of the Silver Creek for weeks.
    • Arguably all of the revivers. They are incapable of feeling happiness and have no further goals in life. They're just there.
  • Anyone Can Die: The whole book is about death explored by multiple regular fatalities over the series. Some are only briefly introduced, but most have significant characterization before their deaths to increase the impact.
    • All of the Revivals were dead as the series begins, of various causes. Several die again over the course of the series. They're all finished off in the final issue.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Louise Cale is an experienced military administrator who fights a ninja assassin hand-to-hand to a stalemate.
  • Bad Future: Inverted. Em uses reviver telepathy to sent Patricia a vision of what the future would be if they both lived. Patricia gets to experience that good future though it will never come to pass.
  • Big Bad: Played With. Technically, Lester Majak is the main villain of the majority of the plot, having murdered Em and accidentally kickstarted Revival Day in the process, but by the time the audience figures this out, that person has been eclipsed by General Louise Cale's goal to conquer life and death.
  • Body Horror: The revivers get a very strong healing factor and greater than normal strength, which restores them to health and awareness without changing anything about their physical appearance.
    • Arlene Dittman is shown ripping out her own teeth because they keep growing back and interfering with her dentures.
    • The junkie used by the Check brothers is kept strung out on drugs while he's slowly vivisected and allowed to regenerate.
    • Jordan Borchardt slices off her own eyelids to better experience the afterlife.
    • Rhodey Rasch has become the star of his own series of extreme sports videos, going viral by virtue of his inability to die from failed stunts. He also has a pay-per-view website devoted to gruesome self-harm.
  • Body Surf: The Passengers try this near the end of the series. Several are radicalized by imprisonment and begin taking over armed members of the US military to attack, skipping to new hosts when the old bodies get killed.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The soldiers Dana and Em meet on the roof of the hospital. They literally have their targets surrounded at gunpoint but the superior officer takes time to clarify to his own men that they have orders to kill, listen to and then negate the protests of the targets, and count to three before firing. Atlee has plenty of time to show up and save the day.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Several revivers volunteer as this during the shootout at Silver Creek to defend the Cypresses.
  • Came Back Wrong: A reviver remembers everything about his or her life, but some of them don't have the same emotional connections thereof. Several have picked up a really vicious tendency towards self-mutilation.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Weaver Fannie equipped with a ninja sword engages the US military equipped with assault rifles. She makes mincemeat of them until she is challenged to single combat by Cale. Cale (with her rifle as a melee weapon) fights her to a standstill until Fannie stabs through her own body to kill them both.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The Revival incident isolates a specific area around Wausau, Wisconsin. The military administrator happens to personally know a secret ninja assassin who lives less than fifty miles away.
  • Creepy Child: As a reviver Jordan Borchardt projects an emotionless disposition. Like others she has no compunctions against self-harm, which makes for a Wham Shot at the close of one issue. Later she claims that guards don't notice her passing because she's so lifeless.
  • Dark Secret: The dead coming back to life brings a lot of people's skeletons out of their closets even before the Revival action starts.
    • Multiple kinds of Love Triangle. See below.
    • Thang Vang reveals she stole from her former employer.
    • The Hine stepsiblings are having an affair and murdered their father to finance it.
    • The Check brothers murdered their transgender mother/former father.
    • Wayne Cypress was drunk the night he crashed his motorcycle, killing his wife.
    • Lester Majac committed a murder to set off the Revival.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Technically how the love triangle between Aaron, Nethiya, and Em ended. Em got better. In the finale it's implied that Em broke it off with Aaron when she discovered he was going to help Lester with the revival ritual. Moreso, as a reviver Em's emotions would be repressed making a continuation of the affair unlikely.
  • Death Seeker: Diane Dillisch is an unregistered reviver who becomes more violently self-destructive over time from pills to self-decapitation, eventually succeeding at terrible cost. The spouse attempts to keep this under wraps to protect both of them.
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: Used by the militia late in the series, causing the deaths of Janae and Jacob.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: After Jordan's revival, Dr. Borchardt asked her if she'd seen God while dead and was disappointed when Jordan said her eyes were closed. Jordan proceeds to cut off her eyelids so her eyes will be open the next time she dies.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: May Tao turns to this after several failed stories shake her faith in her own journalistic chops.
  • Evil Old Folks: Anders Hine, though not without reason.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Both Edmund Holt and Des.
  • Fantastic Fragility: The loophole that allows the Revival ritual to be undone only exists because one of the revivers happened to be pregnant at the time.
  • First-Episode Twist: Em is an unregistered reviver murdered the night of the Revival incident. Keeping Em's secret and investigating her murder drive Dana for the rest of the series.
  • Four-Star Badass: General Louise Cale. She's an unmerciful administrator but that doesn't slow her down in a combat situation.
  • Functional Addict: Derrick regularly smokes weed and used to be a dealer before the quarantine. He's holding down a job as a freelance tattoo artist and has a stable relationship with Nikki. Despite Dana's low opinion of him, he watches Cooper responsibly and performs several high-risk ventures for her.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The series has frequent and brutal depictions of gore, but refuses to show November Dismember taking a knife to his own genitals.
  • Grand Theft Me: Inverted by Jordan. With her own Passenger dead, Jordan invites another reviver's Passenger into her body and then imprisons it by force of will to prevent it from bonding with and destroying its true body.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Rhodey Rasch gets one during his escape from containment by severing his own arm and sharpening the humerus to a lethal point.
  • Healing Factor: The Revivers are effectively immortal. We see them survive massive trauma and blood loss regularly. Self-harm is pretty common.
  • Hollywood Exorcism: Blaine Abel has a side gig performing these. He genuinely believes in demonic possession and has (poorly) researched the subject. However most of his successful cases were themselves faking it and backed down when he called them out.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Nikki. She's a stripper but she's drug-free and has strong boundaries against sex work. Overall she is a decent match for Derrick and a stabilizing force for Cooper. Dana certainly can't see past her profession and blames her for Derrick's failure to improve himself.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Late in the series Jordan Borchardt gets to imprison a Passenger in her own body. The Passenger in question finds this terrifying.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Lester Majak got famous decades ago for his fitness book Strong Century. He's still a local celebrity and quite fit for his age, but he's been coasting downward from that one success ever since.
  • Human Resources: The miracle of the Revival creates an instant black market in reviver body parts for scientific and... other... purposes.
    • Many citizens of the area dug up their dead relatives to sell as counterfeit reviver parts. This was common enough that one shipment filled an entire truck.
    • The Check brothers are selling genuine reviver parts by hacking an unregistered reviver to pieces and allowing his healing factor to regrow him.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Wayne after Diane's reviver reveal.
  • Intrepid Reporter: May Tao, who's brought to Rothschild by contacts within its Hmong community.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Dana takes a short field trip to New York City at one point, in an attempt to track down Anders Hine, who'd escaped the quarantine zone. When she finds him, he's decided to make money as an open buffet for experimental rich people, who hope to gain his immortality by eating his flesh. Unfortunately for them, the reviver's also poisoned the hell out of himself.
  • Ironic Echo: Before Martha comes back again, she's thrown in an open grave as one of the brothers say they wish that she'd ran, because it's more fun that way. Guess what she says after she comes back and rips one brother's throat out?
    Martha: Run. It's more fun when you run.
  • Kill It with Fire: How a reattached Passenger and reviver die.
  • Kill It with Water: The only demonstrated way to destroy Passengers.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The crossover issue with Chew begins with Cooper drawing his own crossover comic combining Saga with Robot Chicken. When Martha questions how such a combination makes sense Cooper responds by invoking Rule of Cool and Rule of Fun.
  • Little Miss Badass: Fannie's tween daughter Atlee is a ninja assassin to rival her own mother. She likes cartoons.
  • Living Lie Detector: Em and a handful of other revivers can innately tell when someone is telling the truth.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Aaron had an affair with Em. His wife Nethiya implies that this has happened before but it has no effect on her affection for him.
    • Jamie Hettinga is cheating on her husband with Justin Hine.
    • Derrick is still in love with Dana though she's long over him. Nikki is still in love with Derrick despite this.
    • Joe Myers is still in love with his first girlfriend though he married another woman.
    • Ibrahim may have had a relationship with his sister-in-law Ami while his brother was in prison.
  • Magical Native American: Lester consults with a Native American friend to address the Passengers around his property. Though the Passengers have arisen according to Hindu ritual, the chief is able to apply his own tribe's rites to trap them.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Every US soldier killed across the series is male except for Big Tina, though civilian deaths include females. Justified by the US Military, even today, being disproportionately male, especially with regards to front-line soldiers.
  • The Mutiny: Louise Cale leads one against the replacement general at the end of the series, supported by troops eager to see death permanently averted.
  • Off-Model: One reviver severs his left arm during breakout from containment. Its gruesome stub is consistently depicted until issue 41, when it abruptly regenerates between pages for two panels.
  • Our Souls Are Different: The Passengers are the souls of the revivers split from the recently dead during the Revival event. Passengers attach emotional weight to memory, so revivers lack emotional connections. Passengers have free will when separated from their hosts. When a Passenger reattaches to its host they are both destroyed. Passengers can also attach to other hosts as body snatchers.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: The Passengers are glowing humanoidish figures heard whispering in the woods outside town. They're visible to humans and on cameras, capable of moving like a gas, unable to cross salt, susceptible to physical restraint, and can be killed by drowning.
  • Outside-Context Problem:
    • The US government isn't prepared for the dead to return to life and handles it like a disease outbreak with a heavy-handed quarantine. Then a heavy-handed concentration camp, then a heavy-handed extermination.
    • Dana, trained law enforcement officer, is initially sent to address a livestock dispute. This escalates to a melee fight with a reviver who happened to live nearby.
    • Scientific analysis of the revival is pretty much useless since it's based on Hindu mysticism.
    • Dana and Em are investigating Em's murder. They do not expect an Amish ninja assassin to get involved.
    • All of these serve to emphasize that death itself is an Outside-Context Problem from the perspective of any given living thing.
  • Phony Psychic: Rose Blackdeer's day job, supplemented by drugging and hypnotizing her clients.
  • Pregnant Badass: Martha "Em" Cypress, though she doesn't find out until the end of Issue 23.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Em Cypress lets out one of these after realizing she's pregnant.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: Edmund Holt, Des, and their recruits.
  • Rule of Cool: Late in the series Weaver Fannie is introduced. She is an Amish ninja assassin single mother who is recruited and immediately betrayed specifically to add her to the Cypress sisters' team. This rule is the only excuse.
  • Salt Solution: A line of salt on the ground is an impenetrable barrier for the Passengers.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The Hunters of the Beast militia run for the hills when Em beats them all handily while pregnant.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Used by Holt's militia to undermine the quarantine.
  • Sequential Artist: Cooper Cypress is an aspiring comic artist. He even gets a plot-relevant commission from Jordan.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Em Cypress is pregnant with Aaron Weimar's child at nineteen years old.
  • Telepathy: Em and a handful of other revivers can read minds by kissing the subject. Em even reverses this ability to commune with Patricia in the finale.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Nithiya escapes with a copy of Banks of the Broken Creek and buys a house at the side of a river.
  • The Mole: Ibrahim Ramin is feeding information to the CIA.
  • Toilet Paper Substitute: Holt uses this to show disrespect to Wayne's trespassing ticket right in front of him.
  • Undead Child: A rare non-evil version. Martha Cypress was pregnant at the time she was revived and the reviver infant represents a bridge between life and death. When the mother reclaims the infant's Passenger, the mother is destroyed but the baby is bonded with it and lives.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Losing her wife and son to Des and her militia's Disguised Hostage Gambit prompts Cale to begin outright extermination to take control of Silver Creek's mystical properties and resurrect them both.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Issue 23: Em is pregnant.
    • Issue 42: Lester Majak is revealed to be Em's murderer. This one is especially notable in that it starts the final arc, instead of being at the end of the previous one.
  • Wham Shot: In standard comic book style several issues end on one.
    • A car accident reveals smuggled human body parts.
    • Anders Hine escapes the quarantine on a bus.
    • Jordan Borchardt cuts off her eyelids.
    • Em Cypress is pregnant.
    • The Silver Creek runs red with blood and is clogged with bodies.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Dana takes a field trip to New York and discovers that someone is shipping reviver flesh out of town. The recipient is killed, as are his future clients - but did his past clients become revivers?
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The revivers are universally emotionally detached. Their families are left with an echo of the person they were, a constant reminder that makes it impossible to grieve and move on. Revivers can feel no joy or accomplishment for themselves which leaves their existence a hollow mockery of life.
    • At one point, Em experiences a dream of a world in which nobody dies. The universe ends up completely packed wall-to-wall with bodies unable to do anything.
  • You Are Who You Eat: Inverted with reviver flesh. It's sold on the black market to be eaten so that the consumer may become a reviver themselves. The New York butcher seems to confirm that this works. It's attempted at scale by a society of Idle Rich, but their victim sabotages the experiment.