While Blink and Enoch keep things together in Harlem, the other Sangeryes have gone to Georgia to find Adro. What else will they uncover? Find out in Bitter Root #9 from Image Comics!

BITTER ROOT #9

Writer: David F. Walker & Chuck Brown
Artist: Sanford Greene
Colorist: Sofie Dodgson
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 8, 2020

Previously in Bitter Root: The Sangeryes’ struggle against the Jinoo has ramped up. After the attack in Harlem, they have brought the local police on board with some of their precious serums to convert monsters back to human. Blink and Enoch are at the forefront of fighting there. Meanwhile, Ford has taken much of rest of the family down to Georgia in search of Adro, a powerful demonic creature who has taken over the body of Miss Knightsdale. Dr. Sylvester sees what he has wrought, and now realizes the enormity of his work. As Adro’s power grows from the suffering, everyone draws closer to the town of Hopeville.

GUT-WRENCHING TURBULENCE

Hold onto your hats! Bitter Root #9 is right in the thick of things and it ranges throughout the Eastern U. S. There is plenty of action to go around, but there are some truly thoughtful nuggets of dialogue that invite coming back to them and thinking about them some more. Right out of the gate, the Black policeman confides in Ma Etta that he didn’t believe his own grandmother’s stories of monsters, and that maybe he should have. Etta is an oracle of honesty and wisdom. She doesn’t let him dwell on that, not when she knows that the monsters they are dealing with are something that she’s never seen or heard of before.

Ford, Nora, and the rest of the group found their way to Hopeville, which is overrun with Jinoo. They got separated from Berg, and Johnnie-Ray has run off. Cullen doesn’t care, but the very self-reliant Ford recognizes that Johnnie-Ray is fully with them. In the setting of the extremely racist Hopeville (wow – what an ironic name!), Cullen is skeptical. But the white boy has run back to their truck to grab weapons and serum, and to try to get Berg’s little monsters to come back with him.

Dr. Sylvester and the parents of the lynched boy flee from Adro. Joe, the boy’s father, sacrifices himself to give the others more time to get away. But they are literally between a rock and a hard place – behind them is Adro and certain suffering and possibly death, but in front of them lies Hopeville.

Blink and Enoch have gone to Chinatown, and I love this sequence so much. If you recall, Enoch tried meeting with all the other families around New York to try to find allies for this fight and he had no luck. He sees no point in trying again. But Blink points out so aptly that there is no excuse to leave things as they are and not to consider changing them. They don’t have much time to discuss, because Blink’s friend Wylie is fighting a Guĭzi, a Chinese monster. Blink asks Wylie for her help, and the young woman is more than happy to oblige.

This is a war with several fronts, and a cast of characters who all bring unique skills to the table. It is a testament to the storytelling that we can keep track of them so well, and that they all seem to be parts of the same puzzle.

A DESPERATE RACE

The art of Bitter Root #9 is so vibrant that at times it almost leaps off the page. When Dr. Sylvester is fleeing from Adro, there’s a splash page of them being chased that is every bit as evocative as a horror film. The emotion is there, and the tension, and the sense that while you know what is chasing, you don’t really know how many there are. And then there’s Blink and Wiley’s fight in Chinatown against a wonderful monster colored in red and gold, which is not a palette used before in any of the issues that I recall. It’s beautiful and full of small details.

The stress and horror of Hopeville fills panels with the tension of relentless hatred. It’s a whole town – the Sangeryes are plainly outnumbered. Their brief respite in a church brings no sanctuary as that is set on fired. Johnnie-Ray does not leave his new friends but comes back to leap into the fight with Berg. Throughout, there are non-rectangular panels and overlapping panels that heighten the sense of urgency. It’s sophisticated and thrilling.

BOTTOM LINE: HANDS DOWN, A MUST-READ!

Bitter Root #9 is terrific! What started out with the simple equation that fear begets Jinoo has branched out with more kind of monsters that are literally the most intense emotions that people have brought to terrible life.


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Bitter Root #9

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A Must Read

As if Jinoo weren’t enough, the Sangeryes head south to find and stop Dr. Sylvester and Adro!

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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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