Page 45 Review by Stephen
"There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery."
"Every bullet has a bed. It just needs to be tucked in."
- The Crow
Pain, Fear, Irony, Despair, Death. James O'Barr's poetic tale of love, loss, all-consuming guilt and an attempt to salvage redemption was both deeply melancholic and remorselessly bleak to the extent that I used to advise removing all razor blades from readers' households before even opening it. The harrowing original to a film that was comparatively jaunty, it really was that grim, buried under the author's own guilt about the death of friend which he felt responsible for. It's still an angry, haunting and haunted read, but with the addition of thirty new pages here either rescued and recreated from the cutting room floor or enabled by the O'Barr's more mature artistic prowess and a certain resolution to his troubles, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel (even if it's to the other side) which is far from a cop-out, but an apposite ending the author could never have conceived of back then. It's all explained in the new introduction.
"A year ago
a cold October night
a broken down car on a dirt road
My God, the shadows!!"
T-Bird said you was dead."
"Am I not?"
Cue Joy Division lyrics, tortured recollections and the growth of an artist in public. O'Barr's initially limited, EC-style renderings in pitch-black pen and ink soon blossom into some seriously impressive figure work and iconic imagery, interspersed with pages of soft, whiter wash.
Twelve months after the murder of his fiancée at the hands of a gang he couldn't fend off, Eric had risen from the dead, reborn as a post-punk preacher in black leather and kohl, to evangelise his way through the culprits one by one through the barrel of a gun. His motivation is revenge; his conscience is a crow; but his only hope lies in forgiveness.
"Are you mad?!! I could never forgive them!!"
"Not them, idiot! Yourself!!"