A lot of times, choosing comics is all about the cover. Whereas I don’t judge the comic book contents by its cover, I definitely am enticed by the title and the cover art when deciding on what to review week to week.
“Punk Rock Jesus” is no exception. I mean, I expect its sales to skyrocket based solely on the title, because the creator and artist, Sean Murphy, took on a highly controversial subject and placed it squarely in the comic book world.
I must say, I might have been swayed because I am a 20-something Christian and journalist, and I wanted to see what Biblical angle, not non-Biblical angle, Murphy decided to use in order to give him this title.
My journalist “Spidey” sense found enjoyment out of this comic more than I thought. Topics that were tackled: The Irish Republican Army, human cloning, cloning Jesus, religious backlash, religion in general, terroristic threats, reality televisions, corporations, profit-making, scandal and damage control. All it needed was a pair of journalist (Woodward and Bernstein‘s grandchildren, since this is 2019) and we are set!
The story, watered down: We first see what happens to one of the main characters, Thomas McKael, as a child and the horror he had to face. In the transitional panel, we see the innocent child turns into a rough-and-tough man. This man, who had been arrested for murder and had been a member of the IRA, is now the bodyguard for the cast of J2, a reality TV show that follows the cloning and birth of Jesus Christ, and then his life after that.
We meet a Larry King-type of anchor who tackles the tough topics with a variety of experts on both sides. We meet Dr. Sarah Epstein, who is the doctor that is doing the cloning procedure but not for reasons you would expect. We also meet Slate, the executive in charge; and Gwen, an 18-year-old virgin who was picked American-Idol style for the job of giving birth to the second Jesus. We also come face-to-face with the New American Christians, who are against the cloning and are physically and violently aggressive about stopping it.
When things can’t get any more tense for the topic at hand, the last few pages gives another shocking revelation and twist to the story. (This I just CAN’T spoil.)
I think the topic is incredibly relevant for today’s audience and gives an almost outside view of what could happen in our world. I feel all angles are covered, and almost equally mocked by Murphy. The mocking has, so far, not swayed me against the world, only to give me moments to pause, reflect and sometimes chuckle.
The art, also done by Murphy, is detailed and direct, as there isn’t any color in the first issue. There is discussion about what Jesus should look like — light skin and blue eyes, though his genetic traits are Middle Eastern and brown eyes — but nothing is revealed. I think this was clever, as it puts the focus more so on the topic than the art, coloring and word bubbles.
This is a definite pick-up in my book, and now that issue No. 2 is out, pick it up with No. 1.
Comic Book Wednesday showcases a variety of visually based books that fit into this wide category, to give a taste of this other form of reading.