Blink settles into her role as leader of the Sangerye family, but what is the new monster they’re facing and how can they defeat it? Find out in Bitter Root #13 from Image Comics!
BITTER ROOT #13
Writer: David F. Walker and Chuck Brown
Artist: Sanford Greene
Colorist: Sofie Dodgson
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 26, 2021
Previously in Bitter Root: Johnnie-Ray’s mother, upon hearing of her son’s death, transforms into a Jinoo and attacks Ford. At the same time, Cullen is entangled by a monstrous tree. Enoch’s little creatures help him, and he kills the tree and works himself free. When he returns to Ford, he finds that Johnnie-Ray’s parents are both dead. Only his sister survives, and she has no other family. Back in Harlem, Blink works with Charlie on his legs, and he tells her of life in Barzakh, and of how this tends to bring out either the best or the worst in people. He fears that in Cullen, it brought out the worst. Ma Etta gets a family dinner set out. While Enoch is expected, he is not there. He has been working through his library and has a revelation that they are all fighting the wrong fight. But before he can share this with anyone, he is killed.
THE FIGHT BECOMES DEEPER
Bitter Root #13 opens in November of 1925. Ma Etta declared Blink to be the new head of the family last issue, and this is a big job. She is at Enoch’s grave. They know he discovered something, but they have not been able to figure out what it was. Then we jump back in time to the night of his death. The police tell Blink that witnesses say they saw a dog-like creature that killed Enoch and dragged off the Chinese man who was with him, Wylie’s brother.
The search takes the Sangeryes and the police to Central Park where they find some unusual plants growing. Some roots snake out and grab one of the police. The attacker is a tree looking much like the tree Cullen fought, menacing and with one huge, baleful eye. But Berg is with them. His inner Inzondo becomes more prevalent, and he somehow understands that this tree is looking to feed on human souls. He grabs it and cracks it.
The story makes further jumps back and forth through time, which is interesting. First of all, important events happen, and they may be related to other events. Secondly, Barzakh still has a role to play, and time passes differently there. While it may be nonlinear, the story unfolds in a way that makes sense. One such scene is a brief one from 1927. Berg and Meriah have had a little girl, who is adorable.
Back in 1925, Cullen, Ford, and Sarah continue to travel around Tennessee. They find themselves in a town that looks dead and abandoned. A group of large, gnarled trees are there, one of them right next to an orphanage. Sarah observes that, of all the trees they have seen, for they have seen more clusters of them, this is the only one with no bones around it, no bodies hanging from the limbs. They got here just the tree starts to reach into the orphanage. Ford fights the tree, Sarah pulls kids to safety, and Cullen goes in and rescues the remaining kids who are still inside. Is this the beginning of a turn for him?
Then we jump back to Barzakh when Charlie is still there with Dr. Sylvester, who has learned that the demons were once inhabitants of this world who were corrupted when the world was conquered. The war is now on earth, but he believes they key to defeating the evil is in Adro’s library. More importantly, he figured out how to send Charlie back. He insists on staying to keep researching.
And there’s also a wonderful scene with Blink, despite her fears, taking the lead. And not just taking the lead within the family but also reaching out to the other families of other cultural backgrounds. They all have the same enemy, she says, but if they can get past their differences and work together, they will be stronger. But six months later, she is in the graveyard where we saw her at the open.
Bitter Root #13 hits some deep emotions. With the mantle of responsibility, Blink has grown up a lot and she feels her uncertainty keenly. To see her both strong and vulnerable is quite moving. I also like the way the art uses her body position – she takes the same pose when she is talking to Enoch’s grave as she did when she was looking over his body. It’s subtle, but it is another way to connect one scene to the next.
The emotional intensity continues with Berg as he battles the tree. Perhaps it is because he is now Inzondo, but he alone of the people in the fight is able to sense what the tree is really after. The awfulness of it penetrates to the core of his soul and for this, he feels it is appropriate to let his inner monster out. Perhaps it takes a monster to defeat a monster, but will this have a price on Berg’s own soul?
BOTTOM LINE: NOTHING STAYS THE SAME
With Bitter Root #13, we have reached the point where the story can grow even bigger. No longer is this the story of just one family fighting fear and hatred. Maybe the fight is within all of us.
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Bitter Root #13
Enoch is dead – has his discovery died with him?