By Emalyn Remington
I wasn’t really into comic books as a kid. While I loved graphic novels and appreciated the work that goes into creating comics, I always felt alienated when Rob, Sebastian, and Oliver would discuss superhero lore and the different universes that reside in one singular art form. My brothers still have comic collections and despite being pretty careless teenage boys, kept these small, paper books in perfect condition. Rob gave them a great deal of his comics and he did this ceremoniously the way that he gave each of my brothers a pocket knife when they turned ten. He was a man that didn’t have much, and therefore gifts were far and few, but whenever he gave you something my dad’s gifts meant something. Last week, during one of my daily conversations with my mother, I asked if she remembered any piece of art that meant a great deal to my father (her first ex-husband). Without any hesitation, she answered, “Yeah- you know that comic, well, it’s a movie too- The Crow? Bruce Lee’s son was in that- he loved The Crow.”
Honestly, I had never heard of The Crow, but upon researching and reading the comic- it makes complete sense. The comic was created by James O’Barr to deal with the death of his girlfriend who was killed at the hands of a drunk driver. It was first published in 1989 by Caliber Comics before eventually being made into a movie in 1994. The comic depicts a man, Eric Draven, who seeks revenge against the people who shot and paralyzed him and brutally assaulted his fiancé. Both Shelly (the fiancé) and Eric die, but Eric is resurrected by a crow- hence the name- who works as his guide throughout the story. Eric uses his newfound, superhuman abilities to hunt down characters such as Funboy who killed him and took the love of his life away. Eric dwells in his grief, mutilating himself and can’t get past the anger and sadness of his situation. The whole comic is very dark, sad, and the anger on each page is tangible. I think that even though this is an extreme case, I think that depictions of the anger stage of the grieving process are so important. Lately, I’ve been filled with this anger that I can’t really understand and the fact that I’m angry at situations that I can’t change or control make it even worse. For the first time in my life, I’m angry at a God that I’m not sure I believe in. I’m angry at people who caused my father pain. It hurts to admit this, but I’m also mad at my father for dying. I find myself mad at myself then, because I shouldn’t waste my time being angry at situations outside of my control, but I can see where Eric Draven is coming from and how that anger can fester and build inside of you. To me, I think that my father could identify with the toxicity of Draven and how he chose to deal with his trauma. I’m sure he also looked up to the creator of The Crow as this was his way of processing his darkest emotions in a healthy and productive way. Upon watching the film (I know we did movies last week but hear me out) I fell in love with the soundtrack (so deliciously 90’s) and I’m going to link that below. One line from the movie that particularly struck me was: “Childhood’s over the moment you know you’re gonna die.” This line is said not by Draven but by another character (Top Dollar) as he shows off a gift that was given to him by his father, the person who explained to him when childhood truly ends. While I am no longer a child, twenty-one is still so young in the scheme of things. But I no longer have that luxury of pretending that youth and life are things that last forever. I have been irreparably changed by this loss. At its core, I think that’s what The Crow is about: how death can change us as people and how we deal with our grief exemplifies that change.