Behold! The second coming of…Jesus Christ?
Religion. One of the biggest and most controversial subjects out there. There are a lot of Religions in our world, and everyone believe’s in a different one. Some people are Christians, some are Catholic, some are Jewish, and the list goes on. However, the one thing people avoid speaking of when it comes to Religion? The lack of it. That’s Right! I’m talking about Atheism. For many people, especially Americans, Atheism is incredibly taboo. It’s a subject so unspeakable for some, that any person who follows Atheism is just as taboo. Now, Atheism is a subject you normally see discussed in non-fiction novels, in news reports on the Today show, or Real Time with Bill Maher. So, Who would’ve thought it would be tackled in a comic book?
The comic in question is an amazing limited series from Vertigo called Punk Rock Jesus. Set in the not so distant future, Punk Rock Jesus tell’s a very different version of the second coming of Jesus Christ. In this version, the Shroud of Turin, believed to have been used in the burial of Jesus, is used by scientists to a clone the son of God. Once this happens, a reality TV show called J2 is produced to show the clone go from a bouncing baby boy performing “miracles” to a young atheist teenager. Yes, you read that correctly! The clone of Jesus becomes, spoiler alert, an Atheist. In fact, he becomes the voice of Atheism. He spreads the word just as the original Jesus spread the word of God, but in a more…punk rock way. Hence the title of the series.
The comic was created by one of my favorite comic artists, Sean Murphy. Murphy, whom normally just draws comics, decided to give writing a go. What he came up with has become one of my all time favorite comic series ever made. One thing that I truly love about this book are the characters. All the characters in this book are spectacular. My favorite is probably Thomas, whose the head of security of the island where J2 is filmed. While I don’t identify with him religiously, I relate more to the Jesus clone on that front, I found the character very compelling and completely badass! He’s this giant, brooding, Irish Catholic man with a somewhat dark past that we see unfold throughout the series.
Also, I loved that the story wasn’t preachy. Originally, Murphy had planned for the series to be a funnel, of sorts, for his atheistic rage. Doing that would have made the book feel very preachy, and turn off the reader. Thankfully, he was able to balance the themes out, and introduce grey areas in the story. Speaking of grey areas, the art in the book is the best! The artwork in PRJ, which is in beautiful black and white, is the best I’ve seen from Murphy. So stylized, and the layouts are astounding. Like previous comics Murphy has drawn, It was a challenge to turn the page. To look away from the beauty, if you will.
All this being said, the aspect I loved most about PRJ was the underground feel of it. The paper used, the lack of advertisements, the black and white art, all of it gave this book a really cool underground feel. Honestly, if this book were done in a more mainstream fashion, I think it would have lost something, or maybe wouldn’t have been as effective. Especially because the themes of this book are very anti-mainstream. In the end, Punk Rock Jesus is one of my all time favorites! I’m sure there will be some to find the series offensive or blasphemous, but I still BELIEVE everyone should check it out!
I give Punk Rock Jesus a 5 outta 5!