As fear escalates, so does conflict. Tensions rise and things slip out of control in Harlem and in Mississippi – can the Sangeryes hold everything together?

Bitter Root #3 ReviewBITTER ROOT #3

Writer: David F. Walker and Chuck Brown
Artist: Sanford Greene
Colorist: Rico Renzi and Sanford Greene
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 9, 2019

Previously in Bitter Root: In Mississippi , we meet Ford Sangerye, who kills Jinoo at a lynching rather than save them. One young white man survives, having not become a monster, and this Johnnie-Ray Knox stubbornly sticks with Ford. He wants to understand what happened, and he thinks he knows where they can find more Jinoo. In Harlem, Cullen and Berg are attacked by a large, bird-like monster, who flings them aside and stalks away with the two people they had just purified. We find out that the monster is actually Miss Knightsdale, and that she and Dr. Sylvester need the souls of the purified to keep themselves alive. As if this weren’t enough problems, Berg has now somehow become infected and is turning into a monster himself!

THINGS ARE LOOKING BAD ALL OVER

It has not settled down in the least in Bitter Root #3, which opens with three storylines running in parallel. In the first, the police are amassing in Harlem to try to find whoever killed two of their own last night. While there are a couple cops who know about Jinoo, most do not and this escalates into violence. In the Sangerye establishment, Cullen, Blink, and Ma Etta are trying to restrain Berg. And in Mississippi, Johnnie-Ray brings Ford to the house of an old (racist) man who takes umbrage at Ford’s presence and turns into a monster. Johnnie-Ray and Ford bring him down, but he isn’t a Jinoo. A Jinoo is a person who’s soul is corrupted so they become a devil; this was a devil who appeared as a man.

The fear in the air is palpable. Dr. Sylvester feels it and has an epiphany – he and Miss Knightsdale do not need a cure – they are the cure! They are angels of retribution and can destroy the devils. This certainly is a complication to an already tangled situation.

Ma Etta knocks Berg out with a massive dose of Fiif-no serum, but his affliction is beyond her root work. Cullen thinks they need to bring in Uncle Enoch – another Sangerye, but apparently, one who is responsible for the deaths of Blink’s and Cullen’s parents. Blink is not pleased.

In Harlem, the battle heats up, and the police officer we know from the first issue calls on his fellows to ease up, only to find that many of them have turned into Jinoo! Cullen crosses the river to Uncle Enoch’s house, and is attacked by a pack of weird little creatures, who turn out to be Enoch’s guard dogs. Berg awakens and gets loose. Blink urges Ma Etta to run, but she is too old to run. She stands him down; she isn’t running from her own kin. (I love her – I love how tough, stubborn, and down-to-earth she is.) And then she strikes him down.

In Mississippi, Ford talks more to Johnnie-Ray. He thinks the monster they just fought is one that is guarding a gateway. Jinoo have been running wild here since before it was a country, and people like the Sangeryes have been able to keep them in check, until recently. He searches the house and finds a map marked with places where the Jinoo have attacked. These may be gateways, and he needs to get back home, to Harlem.

As a handful of human police faces off against Jinoo-police, Dr. Sylvester arrives, saying that he is going to cast them out. He basically blows up several of them, and the issue closes as he rips the head off one. This story is action-packed, to say the least, and it’s full of things to think about – how do we deal with evil? Is there any redemption to be had? And so many more.

FULL OF LIGHT, SHADOW, AND ENERGY

There is so much going on in Bitter Root #3 and it is just so interesting to look at. We open up with pages that are full – the three storylines have not only their own color palettes but their own background details. The police start out calmly enough, preparing to enter a club. Once in the club, it is full of people as well as background architectural details. The fight is terrifyingly one-sided. The Sangerye establishment is just as detailed (as Berg smashes it up), and the house in Mississippi has a completely different flavor, and when the old man turns into a monster, it surprises us almost as much as it surprises Johnnie-Ray.

There is a terrific use of panels of various shapes and sizes, with the action filling them cleanly. And the color is stunning. Complementary colors are used, including for demarking light and shadow and pulling out details in scenes. Spotlighting faces like this really draws the eye to their expressions and helps you travel through the scenes without missing anything important. This is accentuated by the inking, especially since there are a lot of night scenes with their additional deep shadows. This is a vibrant and powerful book.

BOTTOM LINE: EXCELLENT

I just cannot say enough about Bitter Root #3. Every time we learn a bit more, we also learn that this is a small part of the iceberg. Problems are cropping up all over and seem harder to deal with. The characters are all strong and distinct, but not infallible. Their individual stories are as interesting as the overall plot.

Bitter Root #3

100%
100%
Excellent

I just cannot say enough about Bitter Root #3. Every time we learn a bit more, we also learn that this is a small part of the iceberg. Problems are cropping up all over and seem harder to deal with. The characters are all strong and distinct, but not infallible. Their individual stories are as interesting as the overall plot.

  • Writing
    10
  • Art
    10
  • Coloring
    10
  • User Ratings (1 Votes)
    8.1
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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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