Revolver (2010) (reprinted 2021)
Living one’s best life…in parallel worlds
DC Black Label started re-printing Revolver this week after its debut more than a decade ago. I’m not really sure why this decision was made, but it peaked my interest enough to pick up the graphic novel. I’m glad I did because its sharp storytelling had me engaged as a reader from cover to cover.
After a late night of drinking, Sam wakes up to find the world descended into chaos. An avian flu pandemic has killed millions, Seattle has been bombed and Sam has to go on the run. The next day, things are back to normal. He has a nine-to-five job that he hates and a girlfriend who drags him shopping everywhere. But the next day, he wakes up to find dystopia again. Each new day brings more information and more confusion. Sam’s mission is to find a constant that exists for him between these two parallel worlds.
Prior to picking it up yesterday, I knew nothing about Revolver. Immediately, I was nervous about the artwork and did a quick scan of just how many pages I had ahead of me. With a 194 page count (digital version), I was concerned that its sketchy style would make reading a drag. There’s also very limited application of color – used mainly to differentiate between parallel worlds in the story. Vibrant imagery really makes a big difference for me in comic reading (see my Aquaman and The Flash reviews), so my concerns weren’t entirely superficial. Fortunately, the art grew on me after just a few pages of reading. In fact, I can honestly say that Matt Kindt’s artwork really suits his dystopian tale.
What I liked
At first the story feels like it’s going to be a comic book version of the movie Groundhog Day. The depressed guy going through the same routine each day while the people around him are completely unaware of what’s going on. But it definitely isn’t that. Instead, Sam wakes up to a new day in each of these worlds and they mirror each other in small ways. He has to use what he learns in one world to better navigate the other – day by day.
I really enjoyed how introspective the story was. Matt Kindt could have easily let his writing become bombastic here. A plot like this lends itself to lots of bells and whistles. Instead, Kindt very carefully let his main character’s internal discomfort drive the narrative.
What I didn’t like
Revolver is the name of the publication that the main dystopian characters create to let Americans know what’s happening in other parts of their country. It’s a cool name for the graphic novel but the publication, in the story itself, is not nearly as important as it probably should be. In fact, I’m still confused as to why the characters even felt the need to create Revolver at all. It just came out of nowhere a quarter of the way through the story and then became an odd vehicle for the rest of the plot.
There’s a second big plot point that moves the narrative forward. P.K. Verve is a shadowy figure that remains constant throughout the story. Frankly, Verve might have been a more appropriate name for the graphic novel – considering how ever-present the character is. But, without spoiling anything, there are some twists and turns involving the character that just…happen. There’s very little setup and it all feels sudden. For an otherwise well-written story, Matt Kindt could have done a better job with this character.
The term ‘graphic novel’ seems to mean different things in the world of comics. Sometimes it refers to a collection of comic issues; sometimes it’s a lengthy issue in a comic series; and sometimes it’s a standalone story. It’s that last one I hope for when I see ‘graphic novel’. And Revolver is definitely one of those standalone graphic novels.
If you’re looking for a comic read that doesn’t require any backstory or follow-ups, Revolver is a good choice. It has good character development and the art is both interesting and apt. I’d strongly recommend Revolver.
Source: Revolver (DC Black Label) (Matt Kindt) (2021)