Comic: Punk Rock Jesus 1-6
Written By: Sean Murphy
Pencils By: Sean Murphy
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Release Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)/ Collected Edition Available in April 2013
With Punk Rock Jesus, Vertigo Comics have given us a six issue miniseries that has managed to stand out amongst the crowds of new comics and reboots and show us just how good original modern comic books can be. Punk Rock Jesus tells the tale of corporation who decide to make the bold move of cloning Jesus Christ for the sake of a reality show and the whole world can watch the second coming grow up on TV. Of course this comes with an over spilling of controversy and the pressure this puts on the world, as well as our newly cloned son of God all ends up resting on our new Messiah ‘Chris’s’ shoulders.
Of course, it’s not that simple. Corporations lie, secrets are hidden behind lab doors, people are used and even the so-called clone son of God has a rebellious streak. As he grows older, Chris even rebels against the life he’s been born into and forms a band called the Flak Jackets and takes on the new age Christians and their extreme actions with a world tour . Yep, this is Jesus Part 2 with a slice of Sex Pixtols thrown in for good measure.
Now don’t let all this talk of the Son of God and Christians make you feel uneasy. Equally don’t let the extreme idea of a Jesus Christ led punk band put you off. This isn’t a comic about religion as such, despite the central premise and it’s certainly not a comedy take on “What if Jesus joined a Punk band’ either. The incredibly talented Sean Murphy (who not only writes but does the art work for this mini series) has made this about his characters. Chris, our cloned Messiah’s choices and development in the mini series never feels contrived. You see why he rebels. You can see the logic in his punk band and battling against his status is explored thoroughly. His extreme reaction to the world he’s been placed into is handled perfectly and where his story goes within these pages is incredibly compelling whether it echoes the life of Jesus Christ or not.
On the other side of that, Thomas, the dark, broody bodyguard, who is very much the central character to all this, provides a very deep counter balance. His family history within the I.R.A. and overcoming his own demons with faith and aggression has such a hard edge it counters all the turmoil and lies that surround the ‘J2’ project and it’s bold resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thomas is a quiet yet thoughtful lead but can bust heads like the best of them. He’s actually quite reminiscent of how Wolverine used to be in the 90s, in that you love when he handles a bad situation with his blunt approach to his attackers but at the same time you feel like the character is going through his own spiritual journey of self-discovery as the bigger story evolves around him.
From the very first issue Punk Rock Jesus felt like something more than many of the other comics on our shelves. It established its multi layered and well constructed world far quicker in the first issue than most comics do in entire runs and Murphy’s black and white artwork feels more cinematic than 80% of the big flashy colour comics out there. We are welcomed into the world of a cloned Jesus and the characters are presented so well you want to find out what happens next and given the story takes place over a number of years (including flashbacks) these six issues cover a whole lot of ground.
In a comic book world of reboots, rehashes and movie tie ins as well as plenty of mini series that come and go with very little impact, Punk Rock Jesus drop kicks its way into crowd and very much shines as one of the go to comics of 2012. What Sean Murphy achieves in these six issues is nothing short of miraculous. There are very few comics over the last year that have felt this bold, that have remained this focused and have managed to balance a great story with equal amounts of charm, action and genuine drama. Punk Rock Jesus feels so complete and ahead of the crowd it has to be deemed a modern classic. This was six issues of pure comic book gold and there was very little in 2012 that came close to it. Punk Rock Jesus shows us just how good original comic books can be, how unique a comic book experience can be and how the unfamiliar is still the best place to be in the world of comics. More so it highlights just how great Vertigo Comics’s approach to bold new titles continues to deliver results. Do yourself a favour and get on board with Punk Rock Jesus. If you love grown up comics, they just don’t get much better than this. Hallelujah!
This article was first posted on January 3, 2013