This issue serves to remind the reader of this complex world that’s been developed in the first ten issues. Bitter Root is a story about a family, The Sangeryes, who fight evil through roots. Roots are used to create a potion that protects people from being transformed into evil creatures. Those transformed by evil are called The Jinoo who are transformed into monsters by hate. Those transformed by trauma, into an altered and somewhat evil state, are called The Inzondo who are monsters born out of grief and trauma. Root stops the progression of hate and grief; however, it does not cure or completely reverse damages caused by hate or grief and trauma. The Sangerye family is committed to protecting the world from hate, grief, and trauma caused by Adro, the evil deity.
The Sangerye family has lost members to the realm of evil, like Cullen, who is trapped there. They lost some to death at the hands of evil, like Johnnie-Ray Knox, who was killed by Adro. They have allies, as well. Dr. Sylvester allied himself with the Sangerye family to defeat Adro after once being their enemy. However, by dedicating himself to sending Adro back to Barzakh, Adro’s evil realm, he became attached to evil. The paradox of defeating hate is that you become filled with hate if your tactic involves hatred. The book communicates a reality of evil: if you step in it, you will leave tracks; If it gets stuck to your fingers, your fingers will stick to other things. In other words, evil is hard to detach from.
Evil is complex and involves layers. The way the art shows this is through the depiction of different settings, different character representations, the colors, and the tone. Not only does the artist employ shadows and dark lines, but also crude images, and sharp objects to show the way evil punctures the heart.
The people in this book are beautifully rendered, with faces filled with emotion and shadows to show the impact of evil on the human soul. The depictions are reminiscent of the turn of the 19th-century fluidity with an edge. The settings provide the context for a story, and these settings are the social institutions that made black America in the turn of the 19th century; The First Baptist Church of Harlem and the larger Harlem neighborhood.
The most common strategy used by the art is to communicate the darkness brought on by the presence of pain, trauma, and sadness. These emotions are captured not only by dark shadows, but by brown tones in buildings, and also the roots that are present in Barzakh that are seeping into Harlem.
The Jinoo and Inzondo characters flush out a deeper more intrusive emotional context in society itself. The presence of these evil entities has seeped into every aspect of society. The Sangerye family must find a new way and more effective way to fight evil; one that will not only stop the spread but also reverse the damage caused by evil. However, evil is evolving as well. Who will win out and what sacrifices will be made to win this battle? Overall 9.5/10