Occasionally a piece of art, no matter the form, transcends it’s genre and conveys a greater message. Bitter Root, both in concept and execution, is one of those works. This series is nominally about the exploits of the Sangerye family and their decades long battle against the evil of the Jinoo. However, David F. Walker (Power Man and Iron Fist) and Chuck Brown (Trench Coats) convey a greater message about the evil that can infect men’s hearts and, in this issue in particular, the competing desires to destroy evil or seek the harder path; redemption.
This issue splits it’s time between the majority of the Sangerye family in Harlem and Ford Sangerye in Southern Mississippi. As the issue opens, we find Ford locked in battle with a group of Jinoo, Ku Klux Klan members all, who had been preparing for a lynching. Infected by evil and hate, the Klan members have transformed into demonic Jinoo and Ford dispatches them with precision and barely contained rage. Contrary to the primary mission of the Sangerye family, Ford has given up on purifying the souls of infected humans thinking it is a fruitless task. Instead, he has chosen the path of destruction in his fight against evil. However, one of the Klan members present is a young boy, Johnnie Ray Knox. To Ford’s surprise, he finds that the Johnny’s soul has not yet been corrupted by evil and hate. As the issue progresses, Ford and Knox talk and you can see them begin to bond. Johnny, in particular, begins a redemptive arc as he veers from the path of hatred he was on. He begins to value and appreciate the humanity of someone whose appearance may be different.
Meanwhile, in Harlem, the rest of the Sangerye family is locked in combat with a raven-like creature that, while similar to a Jinoo, is unlike anything they have ever faced. This monster kidnaps two infected humans who the Sangerye’s have purified using their family formula. These two people in tow, the monster disappears only to reappear in a laboratory in San Juan Hill. Setting up a larger story for later issues; the monster transforms into a woman who, with her scientist husband, have a larger plan involving the souls of purified humans and the Sangeryes. In it’s wake, the monster leaves Berg Sangerye wounded and dying. Cullen Sangerye manages to get Berg back to the family in Harlem so that he may be treated. However, as the issue ends the family is faced with a terrible situation. Berg, while wounded physically, has also been infected and has taken on the form of a Jinoo.
Bitter Root #2 is an impressive book with a unique art style that evokes the Harlem renaissance. Sanford Greene’s (Power Man and Iron Fist) art is a unique combination of old and new urban styles with a color palette that conveys the horror of the Jinoo and the warmth of the Sangerye family. This combination of style and color has morphed into something new and fresh, something I definitely want to see more of. As I stated above; Walker, Brown, and Sandford have created something that transcends the comic book genre as this book spoke to something inside of me that has nothing to do with heroes and monsters. While it was entertaining as a work of comic book fiction, the message and tone of the book were a tonic for my soul. I was honored to be able to read this book and, to their credit, the team behind Bitter Root have left me uplifted as a result. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
Writing – 5 of 5 Stars
Art – 5 of 5 Stars
Writing – David F. Walker, Chuck Brown
Art – Sanford Greene
Color – Sanford Greene, Rico Renzi
Letters – Clayton Cowles