Reborn #1 has been one of the most hyped new comics of 2016. Artist Greg Capullo just finished an astonishing five year run on DC Comics mainline Batman title while writer Mark Millar recent move to Image Comics has brought a new level of vibrancy to his work that had been lacking for years in his Icon offerings. Unfortunately, Reborn fails to live up to it’s own hype with a first issue that offers very little outside of Millar’s formulaic set up with only a few pages truly worth of Capullo’s immense artistic talent.
There is a strange dichotomy to Millar’s work that’s on full display in Reborn, that between genre conventions and Millar’s own impulses to soften them for mass consumption. This has been successful for Millar in almost every way imaginable in terms of both his work in comic’s in addition to the burgeoning film career he’s built out his work being adapted for the big screen, but it doesn’t always translate to something interesting. Reborn is an issue that, charitably, spends 50% of it’s content meeting the main character as she exists in some form of reality as we know it. She’s an old woman who is about to die and while her feelings and idea’s are certainly relatable on an almost universal level, they’re also thin and without much to distinguish the protagonist or the book beyond the premise that was already made clear for anybody whose spent time reading about the project. The second half enters an afterlife that is this sort of this post apocalypse dystopia where the women who just died has been re-incarnated as a younger version of herself. Like the first half, very little happens here to distinguish the events in the book’s content from what you’d expect based on the imagery. Here’s the thing; as the opening fifteen minutes of a film, this first issue could be solid assuming the creators behind the movie are coherent. But as a comic, it’s barely doing anything at all. Compare this first issue with similar high profile Image #1’s from 2016 like The Black Monday Murders, Kill or Be Killed, Seven To Eternity or Mirror; the actual content is severely limited while the scope of it’s imagination feel’s smaller and less engaging in contrast with the aforementioned debut’s. The beauty of comics comes from the limitlessness of it’s narrative but in structuring Reborn like the introduction of a film, Millar immediately put’s a ceiling on the first issue. All of that is a shame because artist Greg Capullo with inker Danny Miki and colorist Ivan Plascencia feel strangely muted compared to their most recent Batman work, which is the opposite of how this should work. The creator owned book is where you’d expect the artist to go wild but save for a couple (very notable) pages, nothing stands out here the way an entire issues of their Batman series often would.
Reborn isn’t bad per say, but instead, mediocre and verging on lifeless in it’s first issue. While it’s hard to believe that it will stay this way due to the books structure and talent involved, it’s unremarkable debut isn’t a great sign and leaves a lot to be desired.