Friday, November 16, 2012

Punk Rock Jesus #5

by Sean Murphy

With this issue, young Chris, the fifteen-year-old clone of Jesus Christ, really lives up to the series's name.  Chris has become the lead singer for the Flak Jackets, America's last punk band, and also the de facto leader of the Punk Army, a group of young atheists determined to put a stop to the deathgrip that fundamentalist Christianity has on the near-future America this story is set in.

Sean Murphy has done a terrific job of telling this story, as we have followed young Chris from conception to this point, where he is now poised to go to war with the world's three major religions, the culmination of his age at how he was raised, and the state that the world has found itself in.  Touring the country, with his long-time security guard Thomas back at his side, Chris is open to continued attacks by the NAC (the New American Christians), the fundamentalist group that has protested, and perversely, through the magic of the ratings system, sustained Chris through his time on J2, the world's most successful reality show.

I love the scenes where Chris espouses his beliefs (mostly because they echo mine), but I also appreciate the subtlety with which Murphy has developed Chris and the other characters around him over the course of this book.  There is a scene where Chris visits with his childhood friend Rebekah, and her mother, who is the scientist that helped 'create' him.  It is clear that these people love each other, but each is constrained by the boundaries of their beliefs, contractual obligations, and conflicting desires to save the world.

This is a powerful comic.  My fear is that people who haven't read it can easily pass it off as a shock-value piece; there is a lot more to it than that.  In a lot of ways, I'm reading this as the last gasp of the dying Vertigo imprint - it's the type of edgy and potentially controversial stuff they published when they got their start.  It's also very attractive.

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