You may have heard of The Crow. It’s a movie opening on Friday, May 13, notorious at this point because is the last film of star Brandon Lee. If you didn’t know, Lee (son of Bruce) was killed by a prop gun supposedly filled with blanks. This the last of a string of tragedies related to the film, but filming was nearly completed when Lee died and the movie was finished. The film will have an awesome soundtrack featuring Nine Inch Nails, Stone Temple Pilots, The Cure, and Rage Against The Machine.
So what does it have to do with comics? Well, like The Rocketeer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Batman, it was initially created as a comic book. However, The Crow has about as much in common with regular comics as Nine Inch Nails do with elevator music. The Crow is a three-issue black and white comic book, completed over the span of several years. It is the apparent product of a lot of pain. Writer and artist James O’Barr doesn’t talk much about the inspiration for The Crow, but it obviously forms some type of wish-fulfillment for him.
As the story begins, a mugger kills an old lady and slips into an alley. He is confronted by a tall man dressed in black, face garishly painted like a clown, with a thin scar across his nose. He is the Crow. The mugger takes a shot at him, but the Crow has better aim and the mugger goes down. The Crow asks the mugger if he remembers a cold October night and a broken-down car. The mugger blanches with fear and the Crow kills him. The Crow dispatches several other criminals, as flashbacks show him without makeup, becoming engaged to a beautiful blonde.
In the second book, the Crow goes after a junkie who has been allowed to gather his allies. They take shots at him at point-blank range,but aren’t able to stop him and he kills them all. Via an extended flashback we learn that Eric (The Crow) and Shelly (the blonde) were out celebrating their engagement when the car broke down. Unable to fix it, they fell victim to a gang of armed men high on crack. For laughs, they shot Eric twice in the head and raped and murdered Shelly. By a twist of fate, Eric survives and vows revenge.
The two remaining members of the gang meet. The leader refuses to believe the stories, and the other one overdoses on morphine rather than face the Crow again. After the Crow kills more of the leader’s men, the leader gets nervous and hires about fifteen men for protection. The Crow shows up and cannot be stopped. The leader hops into a car and abandons his men as the Crow polishes the rest of them off. The Crow gets into another car and forces the leader off the road at the same spot as the original incident. The leader’s legs are broken in the crash and the Crow has his revenge. The Crow joins his girlfriend as the story ends.
The Crow is simply the most intense comic book I have ever seen. A fantasy come true, it is extremely violent, although there is some black comedy. If the movie is anything like the comic, it will be incredible. If you’re interested in getting The Crow, you can pick up a copy at Big Planet Comics in Vienna.
[Originally published in Expulsion, an independent George Mason University student newspaper]