Something Wicked This Way Comes . . .
Reviewing Rewild, A Graphic Novel
by Devin Grayson & Yana Adamovic
Available now in select stores.* Call or stop by your local direct-to-market comic book shop or major book retailer.
Available everywhere January 11, 2022 from Dark Horse Comics. https://www.darkhorse.com/Search/rewild
re·wild /rēˈwīld/ verb
Restore (an area of land) to its natural uncultivated state (used especially with reference to the reintroduction of species of wild plant and animal life that have been driven out).
Rewild is the highly anticipated graphic novel from the mind of the ground-breaking and boundary-breaking writer Devin Grayson, the first woman to create and write an ongoing Batman title Gotham Knights (2000). With Rewild, Grayson continues to prove she is unafraid to write transgressive and iconic stories.
Rewild also marks the U.S. debut of acclaimed artist Yana Adamovic, known for her previous work on French titles such as Jour J: Le Ombres de Constantinople and Jour J: Tout l’or de Constantinople. Her artistic style and her ability to tell stories visually make her the perfect partner-in-crime for Ms. Grayson.
The fingerprints of the Rewild movement are evident on each page of the graphic novel. If you refer to the definition above, you will have a good idea that this title is different from Grayson’s more mainstream work for DC/Marvel, among others.
Rewild is a fairy tale in the same mold as Grimm’s original stories, which were not for children. They were traditional tales of wonder and warning. They weren’t Disney confections of kindly fairies and happily ever after. They were, in a word, grim. Grayson frames Rewild as a fantasy, a fairy tale, a cautionary fable . . . and a warning.
As a cautionary fable and as a serious waring, Rewild uses the corruption of denizens of the Fairy realm and the ongoing abuse of the natural world as stand-ins for our world, for our failure to adequately address our ongoing damage to our world and to amend our ways to allow the world to heal.
A young woman, dressed like a cliché of a “manic pixie dream girl,” walks into a city council meeting where a young urban planner is presenting a concept for a new commercial space, and in a quiet tone greets the people within. The urban planner asks her if she has a question about his presentation. “No,” she replies. “I have a demand.” Perhaps this young woman is less a manic pixie dream girl after all. Her soft voice when she greeted the room, her flower-child dress, led her audience to miss the steel in her eyes.
This woman is no over-used trope of a damsel in distress whose role it is to be saved by an as-yet-undiscovered hero: She is a hero and knows who her equal is, but it is left to him to discover his role.
She announces that she is a changeling, a human child stolen by fairies, and that she comes at the behest of Titania, Queen of the Fae, with both a plea and a warning. The demand is that a park be built where the commercial building has already broke ground, as part of the Queen’s preparation to return once more to the human world. If this demand is not met, she warns the council that they will face dire consequences. Although she is not taken seriously, the vague threat at the end of her speech enrages Councilman King, and he tells security to remove her. The urban planner intervenes, offering to walk her out himself.
As they take the elevator down, the urban planner offers her the location of a shelter and tells her to let them know that Demond King sent her. He explains his last name is Davis, but he uses his stepfather’s last name professionally. For her side of the conversation, the woman stays on message regarding the importance of THAT land being made into a park, among other fairy-related revelations. As they leave the elevator, Demond asks for her name. She replies that among the Fairy she is known as “Poe-widdle-hughmon-babee.” Understandably, Demond asks if “Poe” will do, and Poe agrees it will. Once assured, somewhat, that Poe knows the shelter’s location, Demond calls ahead and suggests that Poe may be mentally unstable and should be evaluated.
Later, through subsequent encounters with Poe, and after seeing strange creatures when he is not in Poe’s company, Demond gradually comes to believe her. He is ready now to be her partner, the other hero of Rewild, who shares her quest. She tells him that while the kingdom of Fairy and the world of man once co-existed, as time passed and mankind moved further away from the natural world, the fae reacted by moving their world further from that of man. Despite this, the pollution, the covering of land with roads, parking lots, and large buildings, has caused mutations in some of the lesser fae. For example, the once-helpful Brownies have lost their generally tiny-human appearance. They are now misshapen scavengers, mistaken for rats by casual observers, but seen for what they are by people like Demond who have been made aware of this other world. Finally, Queen Titania of Fairy Realm, pushed to her breaking point, gathers her forces and is on the verge of declaring war on the world of men.
As Rewild tells its story, it also tells our story. A story of an ecology in crisis, a world facing the effects of global warming and climate change. Like the world between these pages, our world is on the edge of a crisis. Demond’s unnamed city stands in for all cities, and the reckoning it faces is the same one we daily, globally.
By the end of the story, Poe’s demand for a park in the early pages seems like a small request, while the risk of not doing so is much more dire. What is a small park compared to an invading force of angry and, in some cases, degraded and devolved races of the fairy world, led by the Fairy Queen herself? The answer? One step. A first step that may lead to a second, a third.
When we apply this question to this world, our world, the answer is the same. In the face of an overwhelming ecological crisis, where animal species are vanishing, where mutated offspring are born close to chemical and nuclear plants, where the weather patterns are changing at record speed, it would almost be easier to face a seriously pissed off mythical Fairy Queen. Maybe she could tell us what to fix and how long we have before it is too late. She could at least give us a single entity to fight. But we don’t have that, do we? We have a crisis that comprises multiple serious problems, and one of the biggest problems is that too many people refuse to face the problem.
Rewild is a fascinating view into another world that, in the end, is really a view into our very real world. To say that the story is well-written is to say the sun is kind of bright. Grayson’s writing style has always been welcoming, and she presents complex ideas in an accessible manner. If you are someone who has concerns about what is happening to the planet, who understands that behind hotter summers, colder winters, droughts followed by flooding, melting polar ice caps, and out of control wildfires is the science of climate change and global warming, but you have a difficult time connecting the day-to-day changes all around us, the oddities we see so often they no longer seem odd, the increase of forest- or prairie-dwelling animals living in suburban and urban cities to the same source, Grayson’s modern myth-making does exactly what ancient myth-making did. She anthropomorphizes the natural world, both elevating it to a level beyond human while at the same time right-sizing it into concepts we can understand. She then helps us relate to issues like anger and vengeance and optimism and determination; she helps us find the power and confidence within to take these latter-day concepts-cum-gods and turn them into something we can understand, fight and, possibly, overcome.
Adamovic’s art is in and of itself quite lovely. There are many fine artists in the comic book world, so it takes a bit more than “ohh pretty” or “wow that fight scene rocks” to stand out with so much talent in the field. Adamovic manages this with seeming ease, but it is more likely that this is the result hard work and exceptional talent. Much of Grayson’s story could have been lost in the hands of a less accomplished artist. They say the devil is in the details. As it turns out, a successful graphic novel about the fae and the state of the world is also in the details. Adamovic brings to life the world of Rewild with art that captures the whimsy, the danger, and the gravity of what Poe and Demond, the story’s stand-in for all of us, are facing.
Adamovic’s and Grayson’s collaboration and shared vision of Rewild are critical components in ensuring this world that they created works. And it more than works: It asks the explores the questions we all face daily in our own world, whether or not we recognize them and choose to act or do nothing, and it does so in a way that is free from politics, free from artificial agendas, and free from preaching. They present the very real danger of ignoring the signs that our world, that has given us so much, now needs up to give something back.
Poe and Demond explore fundamental and pointed questions about their situation, and in doing so, perhaps in their function of stand-ins for the readers, about the situation of our world. But there is a question, unasked, which resonates throughout: Is it already too late?
The answer is there in the pages and in the story of Poe and Demond: When we come together in a common goal, there is always hope for another tomorrow.
* Somewhat ironically, problems with global distribution have delayed shipment of many items, as we have all experienced, including the delivery of this and other books. While most of us are aware that COVID-19 reductions in workforce, voluntary and involuntary, climate change also is playing a role in the delays.
Some vendors have had better luck with their orders due to timing and location. Please check with local vendors on availability and the option to pre-order your copy now.
Yours truly is a big fan of electronic books & comic books, because my shelves runneth over. This is one of those books you want the whole tactile & visual experience in hardcopy. Mine is already pre-ordered. Dark Horse lists some of the vendors that are carrying the title, as well as a store locater at the link above.