Ever wonder what would happen if the second coming was televised for your enjoyment? Ever sit back and wonder how it would be if a reality TV show pumped out the rebirth of Jesus Christ for you to watch on your plasma screen? What would the frenzy be if Jesus could come back via a combination of science and digital technology? DC’s Vertigo imprint attempts to answer those questions with their new six issue series Punk Rock Jesus.
What’s it about you ask? Well, here it is in a large nutshell. A family sitting down to dinner, which also happen to be IRA members, get ambushed. Their small boy, hiding in a closet with a gun, starts firing to defend himself and accidentally kills his father. Whisked away by other IRA members, the boy is now scarred for life. Jump ahead twenty years and the world is in a global frenzy. A global corporation has funded a new type of cloning that has perfected the ability to replicate human beings. Looking for the big cash in, the corporation works out a deal with the Vatican to use DNA left on The Shroud Of Turin to clone Jesus Christ.
Looking to further their bottom line, the corporate entity has decided to turn the return into big returns by airing it as a reality show. They’ve picked out a nice homely girl to carry the clone baby to term. Once born, she will act as the child’s mother as the world watches Jesus Christ grow up. To make matters even more interesting, the young IRA boy is now a grown up former-terrorist working as the head of security for the show.
Experiencing the hoopla behind it all, the scientist who perfected the clone technology is less than thrilled. At the end of issue #1, there are two babies born, a boy and a girl. The boy is swept up to become a global star while the girl is given drugs and dumped into a river by the liaison of the giant corporation. All is not lost, the scientist sees the crime, which is the last panel of the book.
I know, lots to soak in, but I suggest you try to. Writer/artist Sean Murphy takes swift aim at multiple pop culture touchstones as well as organized religion. His indictment, the first of six issues, is funny and best of all interesting. Lets be fair, most titles with the name “punk rock” in the title are hipster rags attempting a lazy cool or a shocking hipness. Punk Rock Jesus rises above that by providing an interesting and believable story with characters that avoid cliché. I also like the mystery behind it, the questions you’re left with by the end. Murphy has done an excellent job of hooking you in.
The art, well, that’s a solid effort as well. Straight black and white pencils have to be seriously on point or they begin to look too similar (Walking Dead) and muddled. I won’t lie, Murphy’s style is rough and less than the professional look of most comics, but in that, he’s able to define who the characters are and keep the story flowing. This is storytelling art, not action. The panels move within the story and the sketches help to illuminate snapshots of a bigger story you fill in with your imagination. The marriage works here, as does the rough style.
Punk Rock Jesus is a blast of fresh air in a comic world that can become stilted with superhero tales.
4 Story, 4 Art