Can the Sangeryes close the gateway and deal with Dr. Sylvester and his crew of monstrous helpers? Find out in this review of Bitter Root #5 from Image Comics.
Writer: Chuck Brown and David F. Walker
Artist: Sanford Greene
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 20, 2019
Previously in Bitter Root: All Hell breaks loose in Harlem as Jinoo turn on the residents. Fleeing for their lives, people turn to the Sangerye emporium for safety. Ma Etta is unable to cure Berg, but reaches through to him enough that he gets some hold on himself, and he helps Blink hold off the Jinoo. Cullen and Uncle Enoch come racing back and run into Miss Knightsdale in her monstrous form. She is not a Jinoo; but her soul has become tainted by sorrow and pain, which is why she has a monstrous form. Dr. Sylvester is similarly affected, but feels this is the way he can actually help people. Ford and Johnnie-Ray arrive, but Dr. Sylvester opens up a portal – and Cullen gets drawn into it!
A SMASHING CONCLUSION
Bitter Root #5 is the end of an arc, and it had me on the edge of my seat. This is just such a terrific book. As it opens, we see Cullen falling somewhere beyond the portal among a bunch of creatures that look like Uncle Enoch’s. As he collapses to the ground, someone in an outlandish outfit (looking like an explorer or adventurer) and full mask not only picks him up…but calls him by name. Oh my gosh – are there more Sangeryes here already, wherever “here” is?
In Harlem, Enoch battles Dr. Sylvester, but his magic and alchemy seem to have no effect. Dr. Sylvester wants to draw upon his fear and pain. Enoch still offers to cure him, but Sylvester will have none of it. Shots ring out as Ford, Berg, and Blink arrive on the scene. Ford wants Enoch to close the gateway, but he won’t because Cullen is behind it. The pragmatic Ford bluntly says he’s as good as dead, and closing the gateway is more important. Blink attacks Dr. Sylvester directly, which gets Miss Knightsdale’s attention as she grabs him and runs off. Ford shoots her, but still she gets away.
Dr. Sylvester carries Miss Knightsdale into his underground lair. She is dying. She recalls Tulsa, where he found her, and as she fades away, she gives him all her pain and fear to feed him. He vows his revenge against the Sangeryes.
Ma Etta sends Johnnie-Ray and the policeman around with a kettle of soup. As Ma Etta says, they’re still going to be fighting the fight, but they’re also going to feed the hungry and comfort those who are scared. What strength it takes to have this calm in the middle of a fight! In the quiet, Berg can feel the infection spreading in himself. Enoch concocts a serum which seems to help, but he can still feel the presence of Dr. Sylvester, who comes crashing into the shop. But out on the street there is a gateway to the other realm. Two masked people come leaping through which turns the tide of the fight in the Sangeryes’ favor. Dr. Sylvester runs off, and Ford challenges the strangers.
It is Nora – Blink’s (and the others’) mother! Nobody has ever come back from the abyss. But she didn’t die, and she has returned, along with Cullen, who looks a bit different now.
I loved this story so much. It is exciting and witty. I like that the Sangeryes are independent and stubborn, but as a family they will pull together against a common foe. They have their own ideas, but they also listen to others. And the overall concept is just so incredibly deep and interesting. I cannot wait for the next arc!
Bitter Root #5 is rich in action and deep in emotion. The battle involves not only the characters we know, but a wealth of creatures, mostly toothy, but all individual, as though we can almost see a shade of the person underneath the monster. The ink lines are bold, and there’s a great mix of action and weird magic. I really like the Sangerye aesthetic – its style that looks like a mix of the practical and the tech, with a bit of weird science.
The coloring and the use of complementary colors is amazing. I love the color palette. It’s a fascinating use of some really saturated colors, but they work so well. The details that we need to notice pop, but not in an obvious way, just a way that our eye is naturally drawn to.
When the injured Miss Knightsdale dies in Dr. Sylvester’s arms, there is such raw emotion. Dr. Sylvester’s humanity shows through, and his feelings for her are so strong. I don’t think he’s on the right side of this fight, but this book makes me understand why he feels that it is, and why he’s fighting so hard.
BOTTOM LINE: THIS IS AN AMAZING BOOK
It has been a privilege to review Bitter Root #5. This story reaches out and grabs you by the soul. You feel what these characters are going through, and how tough this battle is. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and cannot recommend it enough.
Bitter Root #5
Family, monster hunting, and bigger challenges yet to come – what more could you want in a book?