In the fictionalized version of Wausau, Wisconsin that serves as the backdrop for writer Tim Seeley and artist Mike Norton‘s “Revival,” the town’s residents are dealing with a mysterious phenomenon that caused the community’s dead to rise. On that fateful day — christened ‘Revival Day’ — Wausau found itself cut off from the rest of the country via a CDC quarantine. Since then, its residents have wondered exactly what happened to their quiet rural town, which seemed to be a peaceful and relatively mundane place before the Revivers rose to attempt to continue their lives.
Two of the book’s main characters — Deputy Dana Cypress and her pregnant Reviver sister Martha (nicknamed “Em”) — have trying to get to the bottom of the undead mystery plaguing their town since the creator-owned Image Comics series began. And in the revelation-packed issue #28 they did just that, discovering along the way a sinister conspiracy which has designs on their town, with Revival Day just a part of its master plan.
In the wake of these surprises, CBR News spoke with Seeley about the truth behind Revival Day, how it’s affecting the Cypress sisters and the Wausau populace, and what’s next for the cast, now that they know a shadowy group has nefarious designs on their town.
CBR News: With “Revival” #28, it felt like you gave us a big piece to the puzzle of what’s going on with the undead phenomenon in Wausau when Em glanced into the memories of her boyfriend, Aaron Weimar. It feels like you were indicating that the mystery at the heart of “Revival” is one that involves both dark arcane rituals, things like blood sacrifice and unethical science. Is that a fair conclusion?
Tim Seeley: I’d say you hit it on the head! I was really surprised that there wasn’t a very big reaction on social media or in the comic press. We basically just told you how Revival Day happened! But I guess the attention span for long(ish) running series isn’t as long as I had hoped. As far as its importance? IT IS VERY IMPORTANT!
What inspired the “Broken Creek” scenario that caused Revival Day to happen? The scenes with Aaron in India felt like you were tackling some real ideas from Indian culture and religion.
Yeah. I’m not a religious guy, but I’m fascinated by religion and how people tend to think of whatever their faith’s rituals are as “normal” and everyone else’s as bizarre and barbaric. Hindu funeral rituals are fascinating, and their approach to death is really different than that of Christianity, and thereby mainstream American culture. I read some accounts of tourists visiting the Ganges for funerals, and they can be pretty shocking.
These last few issues have shown that there’s a conspiracy/intrigue that’s been becoming a bigger and bigger part of “Revival.” Even though he’s a twisted and vile person, militia leader Edmund Holt might be right in that some unscrupulous and powerful people have sinister designs for his town.
Yeah, exactly. Edmund is a product of a certain mind set, and though much of what he believes is conspiracy theory, there are notes of truth in what he says. I thought it was important that he not just be a wacko.
On the other side of that intrigue coin is the mysterious and newly-introduced Agent Geiss. Just as he’s about to help CDC worker Ibrahim Ramin bust Edmund Holt for a terrorist conspiracy, he casually admits he murdered Rose Blackdeer after Ibrahim told her the location of the secret Reviver farm. I feel like I don’t know what to make of Agent Geiss yet, and I feel that’s intentional.
Geiss is definitely important coming up — and if you go back and look in early issues, you’ll see he was there all along! He even shows up at Karaoke night!
Martha Cypress’ final scene in #28 is a pretty intense, emerging from the water with a pissed off expression. What can you tell us about Em’s emotional state going into #29? How has finding out about Aaron Weimar’s past impacted her?
Em now has to decide what she’s going to do with this potentially “undead” baby, knowing that Aaron is dead, and was murdered.
Meanwhile, Dana Cypress ended #28 with a defiant look as she was staring down the barrel of Edmund Holt’s gun. Back in Issue #27, she seemed to experience some second thoughts about trying to kill Holt, but by the end of #28, it seems like she’d want nothing more than to put a bullet in the old militia man.
Well, we’ll actually see that Dana is smarter and more in control now than she had been when she was relying on pure anger. The sisters sort of switch back and forth that way.
With all of those cards now on the table, what sorts of hints and teases can you offer up about the issues of the series that will hit in spring and early summer?
I think the themes of the stories change with the seasons. We’ve started to see that Revival Day affected animal life, but we couldn’t tell because it was winter. We’ll see more of that as Wausau thaws out.
We’ve talked in the past about how gifted Mike Norton is, with the scenes of unsettling horror you’ve tasked with him drawing, and how closely you guys work together on this — and I mean that literally. I believe you mentioned Mike’s art desk in the studio is pretty close to where you write. What’s it like working that closely with an artist versus someone who lives miles and miles away?
It allows for a lot more collaboration. If I get stuck on something, I ask Mike. If he has a question on a panel, he asks me. We can talk about the story at lunch. We can argue easily. [Laughs]
Finally, we’re getting to the heart of the mysteries and horrors of Wausau in these recent and upcoming issues, so approximately how much of the long form story of “Revival” do you and Mike have left to tell? Are you over the halfway point?
Yeah! We’re on the downhill slide — as far as length of the story goes, not in terms of quality! We totally appreciate everyone who has stayed with us, and all of our trade waiters! There’s some creepy stuff coming!
“Revival” #29 goes on sale April 15.
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