Cullen Sangerye belongs to the African-American diaspora from the world heâ€™s been fighting in from Volume I of â€œBitter Root.â€ Transported back to 1924 Harlem Cullen has become hardened, and while his lack of feeling helps him in battling the evil entity known as Adro, itâ€™s issue 10 that shows a war bigger than battling jinoo or this new invitation for destruction.
The nonlinear multi-character storytelling is what punctuates this diaspora-drama that seems to imbed itself in ancestral trauma. We see in the opening of this comic a flashback of Dr. Walter Sylvester and nurse Eliza Knightsdale, ironically healers who have been infected with the pain and suffering of what both experienced through the Tulsa Massacre in 1921, a real life event that shows the monster that is racism. There is also the beginning of Walterâ€™s inzondo state, a place of the in-between where one appears physically as monsters but can be seen asbeing able to adapt to a type of genetic, inherited trauma. During issues 8 and 9, Walter makes his way to a southern sundown town to confront Adro and by the 10th has put a band-aid on a gaping wound. But Walter at least comes to a place of completion. Having faced his pain heâ€™s able to confront Adrowho had for so long feasted on it. But the same canâ€™t be said about Cullen who holds an empty sense of anger and bitterness about him. Even when Johnnie-Ray, the white, red-headed young man saved by Ford Sangerye in an earlier issue offers hope, Cullen isnâ€™t moved. That scene where the burgeoning white ally shows a glimmer of understanding and growth is important to seeing the impact of the monster that is racism. And itâ€™s the sharp, jagged silhouetted lines on the pages steeped in darkness is where both Adro and Cullen feed.
While Adro feasts on the â€œhopeâ€ of Johnnie-Ray, Cullen makes a meal out of bile and bitterness. Essentially Cullen fails to comprehend how his ignoring his absence of pain also fuels the otherworldly Adro.
By the end of this comic-book there is no sense of resolution or rest for all involved. Lessons are learned, but itâ€™s Cullen who needs to get how his behavior and not facing his own trauma is part of the cause of whatâ€™s happening. His cousin Blink, the woman who is both fighter and thinker though does get whatâ€™shappening. As she, rootworker Ma Etta, her uncle steampunk-tech expert Enoch work with allies to figure out how to stop Adro Blink understands that no matter the culture evil is the same.
â€œBitter Rootâ€™sâ€ latest issue once again melds kickass action with thought-provoking ideas on what happens when the marginalized are the central focus of their own storytelling. Itâ€™sglorious in how pain is or isnâ€™t confronted and the repercussions of it. The back matter of essays written by Matthew Teutsch and Stanford Carpenter, PhD are a welcome contributions in the understanding of the world of â€œBitter Rootâ€ creating a nourishing richness in the reasonings behind these characters.