Crow (comics)

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The Crow
The Crow1 Cover.jpg
The Crow #1 illustration by James O'Barr
Publication information
Publisher Caliber Comics
Image Comics
First appearance Caliber Presents #1 (1989)
Created by James O'Barr
In-story information
Alter ego Eric Draven, Joshua, Iris Shaw, Michael Korby, Mark Leung, Vincent, Elorah, Jamie Osterberg, The Man, Carrie/"Curare", Salvador, Ashe Corven, Alex Corvis, Jimmy Cuervo, Hannah Foster, William Blessing, Jared Poe, Amy Carlisle, Stephen Lelliott, Dan Cody, Billy, Dren
Abilities

The Crow is a fictional character and the protagonist of The Crow comic book series, originally created by American artist James O'Barr in 1989.[1] The titular character is an undead vigilante brought back to life by a supernatural crow to avenge his fiancée's and his own deaths. The character has subsequently appeared in several feature films, a television series, and spin-off novels and comics. In the various incarnations, films, and spin-offs, many people have taken on the Crow persona in order to avenge their own wrongful deaths. In 2011, IGN ranked the Crow 37th in the Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.

The Crow (Bird)[edit]

The Crow is a supernatural bird that serves as the protagonist's link between the living world and the realm of beyond. The magical crow is capable of resurrecting people who have been murdered, so that the victims may be able to seek justice on the person or people responsible for their death. The story of the Crow[clarification needed] seems to come from an old Native American legend.

During the person's "rebirth," the crow serves as a guide, helping the individual tap into his or her potential and assisting in tracking down the wrongdoers. To other people, the Crow seems to be nothing more than a common bird; but the Crow is capable of speaking to the reborn, often helping guide them to exact their revenge.

In the film adaptations, if the Crow is harmed or killed, the reborn becomes vulnerable. However, the Crow also seems to be much more enduring than a regular bird and might possess some regeneration abilities (e.g. in "The Crow" movie the bird survives after being shot with a rifle).

Powers and abilities[edit]

While they are in possession of the Crow's powers, the majority of those reborn possess several unique abilities. Because they are already dead, the reborn do not need to eat or sleep and are incapable of feeling pain (save for the tortured memories of their own untimely demise), and has an accelerated healing factor being able to instantly recover from any form of bodily harm, no matter how great the damage. Because of their otherworldly physical strength, the reborn are able to quickly overcome any adversary, even those who would be otherwise untouchable. The reborn's supernatural senses also make them exceptionally skilled at hunting down and eliminating a target. The reborn is superhumanly agile with cat-like reflexes, being able to scale across buildings and rooftops, fight with great skill and shoot guns and throw knives with great accuracy even if he or she had never possessed such skills during his or her life. In addition the reborn shares eyes with the Crow, thus being able to observe the place with the help of the bird. The Crow also does everything to help the reborn when necessary.

In Wicked Prayer and Stairway to Heaven, it is said that the source of the reborn's superhuman strength is their love for the ones they've lost. However, in City of Angels, Ashe Corvin says that pain is the source of his strength.

Also often the reborn possesses the ability to see images from his or her lover's memory when touching things he or she touched before, or to see the memories of a person when touching their eyes (or at least their face). In addition the reborn usually can send the images and feelings from the memories already absorbed to the person whose eyes the reborn touches at the moment (Eric Draven in the first movie virtually kills his enemy making him feel thirty hours of Shelly's pain in one moment). In The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, Eric can see events that transpired simply by touching objects that belonged to someone who was loved.

Although the person brought back to life by the Crow is physically invulnerable, in the movies and later Crow comics he/she does have one weakness: because the magical crow is the source of their connection between life and death, if it were to be harmed or killed, this would leave the reborn vulnerable to attack. Many have attempted to exploit this weakness but only some have been successful (see The Crow or The Crow: City of Angels). However, even in case of the Crow being harmed, the reborn doesn't lose many of their special abilities, e.g. to see a person's memories when touching their eyes. In addition, the reborn is supposed to lose their invincibility when he or she considers their mission completed; in The Crow: Salvation, Alex Corvis is tricked into thinking that he completed his mission, thus he becomes vulnerable. His guide Crow, however, with the help of Erin, successfully makes Alex realize his mistake and rise again.

In the graphic novel of The Crow, Eric is completely invincible except for his wounds suffered from self-mutilation.

In The Crow: Waking Nightmares comic book it is stated that the Crow power is taken from the reborn, in case he leaves the path of vengeance. In case of losing special powers the reborn becomes vulnerable, starts to rot, and rigor mortis sets in soon, as if the reborn were still in their graves.

In "The Crow: City of Angels" and "The Crow: Salvation" films, those resurrected by the Crow have demonstrated the ability to turn into crows and possess the natural abilities of a crow, such as flight and nightvision.

Make-up[edit]

In the comic book, the origin of Eric's make-up is explained briefly as "painting his face in the colors of joy". This indicates that he copied the Greek comedy masquerade mask in his and Shelly's house. Joshua and Mark Leung do not wear any distinctive make-up, and Ashe's is provided by Sarah, as in the movie. Iris Shaw paints the semblance of a Crow on her face with the tail covering her nose, and the wings covering her eyes. She removes it to face her final killer. Michael Korby's covers his neck and shoulders. The makeup is referred as "the mask of death" and "the trails of Gorgon's blood" in The Crow: Wild Justice comic book. In The Crow: Death and Rebirth, Jamie Osterberg's pale skin color and eye/mouth lines are not created by make-up (this may be due to his resurrection incorporating the Japanese culture he has been living in; for more information about Japanese vengeful spirits, see Yūrei and Onryō: "Physical Appearance") and another anomaly is that his hair has turned completely white. In The Crow: Curare, Carrie's pale skin color is not accomplished by make-up, there is no horizontal line over the mouth, and the vertical lines over the eyes are shorter, thinner and only become really noticeable when she achieves her vengeance with former-Detective Salk's help.

In all feature films, except The Crow: Salvation, the protagonist wears make-up that cover their face. In the first movie Eric Draven copies the pattern from one of the masquerade that decorated his and Shelly's apartment, which consists of white paint placed over the face with black paint around eyes, black vertical lines over and under eyes, black paint on the lips and a black horizontal line over the mouth, resembling a Glasgow smile. In The Crow: City of Angels Ashe's make-up was provided by Sarah and looks similar. Jimmy's make-up in The Crow: Wicked Prayer is similar as well, though there is no horizontal line over the mouth and the vertical eye lines are shorter and thinner.

In the third movie, The Crow: Salvation, Alex Corvis is executed in the electric chair, and his face is burned by the metal helmet which was worn over his head during the execution. After he removes the burned skin, scars are left on his face, as well as black skin around eyes and on his lips, thus forming a pattern similar to the classical make-up. However, there are two vertical lines over each of his eyes and they cross with the horizontal lines on his mouth.

In the The Crow: Stairway to Heaven TV series, Eric's "make-up" appears automatically whenever he "changes" into The Crow. His fingernails become black, while his face becomes white, with vertical lines over the eyes and short horizontal/diagonal lines extending from his lips, like a smile; they disappear when he becomes 'normal'.

Even though not all the reborn wear the make-up, they are still usually drawn in a certain style: their lips are usually distinctively black, skin around eyes is black, while the eyes are sometimes burning white. Generally the style of drawing reminds the pattern of the classical makeup.

The resurrected souls in the Crow novels do not wear the traditional face paint/markings.

Fictional character biographies[edit]

Comics[edit]

Eric[edit]

The protagonist of the original comic book. Eric becomes the Crow when he and his fiancée Shelly are murdered on a stretch of highway after their car breaks down and Shelly becomes the target of a passing gang. Eric is reborn one year later and systematically hunts down and kills his and his fiance' murderers before returning to the afterlife.

Following the original series, London Night Studios published the six-issue series The Crow/Razor: Kill the Pain (#1-4, #0 and a Finale issue) in 1998, which saw Eric paired with Everette Hartsoe's bad girl character Razor. A follow-up magazine entitled The Crow/Razor: Nocturnal Masque, featuring artwork of both characters with quote attributed to each, was also published.

Eric was also in a short-lived 10 issue series by Image Comics which reinvented the plot yet again, while still sticking heavily to the events of the film.

Joshua[edit]

He appears in the three issue series The Crow: Dead Time, the follow-up to the original graphic novel. Joshua is a Native American farmer of the Crow Nation who adopts the "white man's way" and becomes a farmer. Joshua, along with his wife and child, are murdered by a band of Confederate soldiers who've turned renegade since the civil war was declared over. An entire century later, the Crow resurrects Joshua, and he begins his hunt for the soldiers, who have been reincarnated as a biker gang.

Iris Shaw[edit]

She appears in the three issue series The Crow: Flesh and Blood and is the first female to assume the role. Iris is a Federal Conservation officer who is killed by terrorist members of a rural militia compound, along with her unborn child, after catching key members breaking conservation laws. The Crow resurrects her to hunt them down. She seems to be not completely invincible, as, according to the Crow, she must complete her mission before she rots. She can't really heal, thus Iris uses a stapler to sew her wounds.

Michael Korby[edit]

He appears in the three issue series The Crow: Wild Justice. Michael and his wife are unintentionally murdered during a car jacking. He is brought back by two crows, and must avenge his and his wife's death before the Gorgon blood running through his veins runs out. The Gorgon god tattoos Korby's body, which gives him the power to regenerate until the blood runs out.

Mark Leung[edit]

He appears in the four issue series The Crow: Waking Nightmares. Leung and his wife are murdered by the Chinese Mafia as a result of his own detective work growing too close to criminal operations. Instead of going after their killers, Mark gets wrapped up in saving his twin daughters, who have been sold into slavery.

Leandre[edit]

He appears in The French Crow, Vols. 2 and 3, published in France in 2007, in the two-part story "The Medieval Crow". Leandre and his wife Jeanne were murdered and their son Lestal stolen on the orders of Lord Arthuro so that Arthuro could be provided with an heir. Leandre achieves his vengeance and eventually kills Arthuro, but Lestal becomes an unintentional victim. After his son's death, Leandre is abandoned by his Spirit Crow and must wander the Earth without any purpose or reason to exist until he learns the true reason for his restless wandering (NOTE: One of his victims of vengeance over the centuries was a certain "Jack, tueur des femmes [killer of women]", i.e. Jack the Ripper, whose body he disposed of by dumping it in the river).

Vincent[edit]

He appears in The French Crow, Vol. 4, published in France in 2010, in the story "La Fiancée du Corbeau" ("Bride of the Crow"). Vincent is a young make-up artist in 1930's horror films who falls in love with Evy, the current film's starlet. When she is raped by a group of stagehands (one of whom is the studio owner's son), Vincent, who witnessed the act and was beaten to death by them, returns a year later, aided by a Spirit Crow, to seek vengeance.

Elorah[edit]

She appears in The French Crow, Vols. 4 & 5, published in France in 2010, in the two-part story "Le Sang des Innocents" ("Blood of the Innocent"). Elorah is a female undercover police officer investigating a narcotics baron; after being murdered and revived by a Spirit Crow, she must now face not only her murderer but his creation: a cyborg that feeds on blood.

Jamie Osterberg[edit]

Appearing in the five issue series The Crow: Death And Rebirth, Jamie Osterberg is a foreign exchange student studying in Tokyo, Japan. His fiancee Haruko and other friends vanish, only to return possessed by someone else. Jamie finds out too much and is killed. Resurrected by the power of The Crow, with a sword that seeks truth, he learns that the "possession" was caused by a process that can insert one person's mind into another person's body and that Haruko was taken because an old rich dying woman wanted a new life in Haruko's body. Jamie hunts down those responsible to free the souls of his friends and be reunited with his one true love ... even if it means allying himself with Japanese ghosts and demons and following a path of vengeance through the different Japanese Hells (see Diyu).

The Man[edit]

In the three issue series The Crow: Skinning The Wolves, which takes place at a death camp in 1940s Germany, a simple game of chess against the camp commandant (who absolutely hates and refuses to lose) turns deadly and fatal, leading to the creation of a new avatar of The Crow. At the moment of ultimate retribution, The Man refuses to tell his murderer who he was, preferring to represent all the victims of the camp; however, once his work at the camp is complete, he does not move on but instead continues on into the night intending to visit vengeance on the nearby town whose inhabitants knew what was happening and being done at the camp but turned blind eyes.

Carrie/"Curare"[edit]

She is the first non-adult "Crow", the victim of a vicious kidnap/rape/murder; her mother was a heroin addict, her father unknown. In the three issue series The Crow: Curare, retired Detroit police officer Joe Salk, who unsuccessfully investigated her murder, becomes obsessed with finding her killer to the point where his wife leaves him. The girl, resurrected by a Spirit Crow (which she calls "Birdy") returns to help him. Her first name, "Carrie", is learned by it being written on her underwear, which was found with her body; her last name is unknown. When Salk asks her for her name, she tells him to call her "Curare" (the source of the name being a documentary involving curare that Salk's children had been watching and shouting out the word as being funny). She is also the only returned soul in the "Crow" canon who does not personally engage in violence; it is Salk who forces information out of sources and who physically avenges her on the paedophile serial killer.

Salvador[edit]

In the three issue series The Crow: Pestilence, Salvador is a young boxer in Juarez, Mexico who refuses to take a fall, but has no problem taking a vicious drug gang's pay-off. When they take their lethal revenge on Salvador and his family, he returns in search of vengeance and forgiveness

Film[edit]

Eric Draven[edit]

Eric was portrayed by Brandon Lee in the 1994 film The Crow, based on the comic book. The film had the same basic premise, except the couple were murdered in their loft apartment due to fighting tenant eviction, instead of being murdered on the side of the road. The film is also where Eric was first given the last name Draven and Shelley the name Webster.

Ashe Corven[edit]

He appears in The Crow: City of Angels, the sequel to The Crow.

Ashe Corven (Vincent Pérez) is resurrected by the magical crow to avenge the death of his son Danny, who was killed along with himself after accidentally witnessing a gang murder. Like his predecessor, Ashe successfully kills each of the gang members until he meets the crime boss who ordered his death. The crime boss, Judah Earl (portrayed by Richard Brooks), wishes to obtain Ashe's powers for himself, and will do his worst to gain them. In his endeavours, Ashe is assisted by Sarah (from the original film; now portrayed by Mia Kirshner). Sarah provides Ashe's facial make-up in honor of Eric, and helps him in his mission. In the original unrated director's cut, which has yet to be released, Ashe, while going after Sarah, meets Danny, who tells him that it is time to go as his mission is over. Ashe refuses and, as a result, is damned to stay on Earth forever.

Alex Corvis[edit]

He appears in The Crow: Salvation, the third movie in the series. Alex Corvis (portrayed by Eric Mabius) is convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Lauren (portrayed by Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), and then executed in the electric chair. Alex is assisted by Lauren's younger sister, Erin (portrayed by Kirsten Dunst), as they uncover the mystery surrounding the murder. Alex is the only reborn whose make-up didn't appear mysteriously and wasn't provided purposefully, but rather appeared in the form of creepy-looking burn scars on his face.

Jimmy Cuervo[edit]

Appears in The Crow: Wicked Prayer, the fourth movie in the series. He also appears in the fifth book of the Crow series (Dan Cody was the character's name in the book).

As in the book, Jimmy (portrayed in the movie by Edward Furlong) and his girlfriend Lily "Ignites the Dawn" (Leticia "Dreams The Truth" Hardin in the novel and portrayed by Emmanuelle Chriqui in the film) are hunted down by a gang of Satanists who want to steal her eyes for use in an outlandish ritual. She and Jimmy are both killed in the process. Jimmy then goes on a journey to avenge his and his girlfriend's death and take down the satanists in the process.

Television[edit]

Eric Draven[edit]

Eric was also portrayed by Mark Dacascos in the television series The Crow: Stairway to Heaven in 1998. This version of Eric differed slightly from the other versions in that his mission wasn't about revenge, but about redemption.[2] 22 episodes were produced in which Eric acts as a vigilante helping the needy, before the series was pulled in 1999.

Hannah Foster[edit]

She appears in The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. Hannah Foster is brought back to life one year after she and her daughter are killed. Like Draven, Hannah has a Spirit Crow, and possesses all of the Crow's powers. However, unlike Draven, she constantly battles between the need for redemption and her lust for vengeance. Also, her methods for dealing with her opposition are far more severe than Draven's.

Novels[edit]

William Blessing[edit]

He appears in The Crow: Quoth the Crow, the first published novel in the series. Blessing is a popular horror writer who is murdered by his jealous protégé Donald Marquette, aided by a goth gang with literary aspirations. His wife is viciously raped in the encounter, and Blessing is brought back to exact vengeance. Blessing's body is continually on the verge of rotting away, his willpower to complete his mission the only thing holding him together. It's also implied that Blessing's healing abilities are actually the result of cannibalistic feeding off his victims.

Jared Poe[edit]

He appears in The Crow: The Lazarus Heart, the second published novel in the series. Poe is a controversial S&M photographer who becomes the target of a serial killer in Louisiana who preys on gay men and transsexuals. He is wrongfully arrested by members of a homophobic police force and convicted for the murder of his homosexual lover (who was actually killed by the serial killer), and while on Death Row is murdered by a fellow inmate whose brother was one of the serial killer's victims and who believed that Poe was the killer. Upon his rebirth, he tries to track down the real killer with the help of his lover's transsexual sister, while also avenging himself on the homophobes who were responsible for his arrest, conviction and death. This novel's basic plot was the direct inspiration for The Crow: Salvation.

Amy Carlisle[edit]

She appears in The Crow: Clash by Night, the third published novel in the series. Amy is a day care owner who is killed in a bombing, along with some of the children she watches, when a militia group calling themselves The Sons of America tries to kill a popular senator who was supposed to have been visiting the center but who pulled out at the last minute. Six months after the bombing, Amy is resurrected by a Spirit Crow, but discovers that her husband Rick has moved on with her best friend, who survived the blast. During her acts of vengeance against the militia group's members, Amy is seen and recognized by Rick, who then attempts to infiltrate the militia group.

Stephen Lelliott[edit]

He appears in The Crow: Temple of Night, the fourth published novel in the series. In turn-of-the-century Bangkok, the Klong Toey shantytowns are home to shadowy erotic emporiums where millionaire celebrities act out their darkest sexual fantasies, protected by money, influence, and American diplomacy. Stephen Lellicott is a young American journalist assigned to expose the latest cover-up, but he's about to break the two cardinal rules of journalism: Don't fall in love, and don't get killed.

Dan Cody[edit]

He appears in The Crow: Wicked Prayer, the fifth published novel in the series and the basis for the film of the same name. He and his girlfriend Leticia "Dreams The Truth" Hardin are murdered by John Church and Kyra Damon, who have learned about the power of The Crow, who want immortality and who need Leticia's eyes to achieve it. Dan is resurrected, then goes on a journey to avenge his and his girlfriend's deaths.

Billy and Dren[edit]

They appear in The Crow: Hellbound, the last published novel, dating from 2001. In this book, a demon named Dren is looking for salvation; Satan's fiery underworld has become a foreign place to him and he feels he is different from the other souls. After escaping from Hell, Dren must save a single soul in order to pass on to the heavens above. Billy is a young hoodlum working for a big-time mobster, and like Dren he has also changed and wants out of the seedy underworld he calls his home. But neither the mob nor Hell look kindly on deserters; Satan has sent two rogue demons to stop Dren and the mob has hired a conjurer named Nadja to kill Billy. In the end, the two must call on the powers of the Crow to save them both and to escape their own hells—waging a full-scale war on the mobsters of Earth above and the lord of darkness below.

Bibliography[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

  • Eric Draven (alongside his crow) appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Cannot Be Erased, So Sorry" voiced by Simon Pegg. In a segment that parodies The Wizard of Oz, the Nerd (voiced by Seth Green) spices up his dream by imagining Eric Draven in place of the Scarecrow (along with Optimus Prime replacing the Tin Man and Lion-O replacing the Cowardly Lion). When engaging a flying monkey at the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, Eric explains the meaning of existence which leads to the flying monkey hanging himself. Eric then sheds a single tear.
  • In the season two episode of the Comedy Central program Workaholics titled "Teenage Mutant Ninja Roommates", Anders is shown to have attended Eric Draven Middle School.
  • Professional wrestler Sting used the Crow facepaint for his darker persona in late 1996 and still uses it to this day.

References[edit]