“Do this in remembrance of me.”
I wasn’t sure just what the arc of this story was going to be when I read the first issue months ago. Everything seemed like it was going to be a straightforward cut-em-up with Jesus taking on the minions of Hell one at a time to open the gates of Heaven. The idea was intriguing; in the time we don’t see Christ between his death and Resurrection, he journey’s to Hell to undoubtedly not turn the other cheek but forcibly rip the keys to Hell out of Lucifer’s grip. I will admit that this, at first, seemed to be more of a conservative piece to weaponize the Lord when he spoke of only peace and love on Earth, but this final issue has really surprised me and made my level of respect for the creative team and their story jump many levels. We’re still in Hell, Jesus is still swinging away like Conan, but there’s a none-too-subtle message within that may shock readers who think they know where they’re going.
Matt Schorr has saved his best for last. The final showdown with the Morningstar is what we’ve been led to the whole time, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Instead of a simple knock-down brawl as we’ve seen against previous foes, Lucifer vs. Jesus is as much a battle of ideology as one would hope for. It all boils down to Lucifer watching the Fall with a sense of certainty, and Jesus responding in the way that is more like his more well-known self than the sword wielder we’ve come to know. I don’t want to give away what is truly the well-thought-out hook here, but it’s worth the read to find out just what is going on.
Christian Wilkens has also stepped up his game on this final issue, and the imagery could not be more perfect. The visual cues for the opposite natures in the grand finale are wonderful and stark, and the single page that elevates the entire comic as a whole is done very well, though it leaves me with some questions. Not the kind that are bad, but the kind of questions that invite discussion and a potentially interesting debate.
What I’ve been dancing around is a moment that is a bit spoilery, but I think it’s important to call this out for people that may not be interested in the book as a whole due to the subject matter. If you’re already on board, go ahead and skip the rest of this paragraph, if you want to keep the surprise. But, those of you who are on the fence, I have to share this with. In one moment Lucifer reveals the future of mankind and attacks Jesus with actions that will be done “in his name.” Now, I did not expect such an honest and open criticism on those who have used the church to cover their actions, as those that do tend to get shouted down by the typically more radical followers. This, however, shines a harsh light on four key movements, and it’s done in four images surrounding the combatants: A Crusader, KKK members, Adolf Hitler, and the Twin Towers. Now, the involvement of Christian roots clung to the first three is well documented, but the Towers is the image I’m not entirely sure I understand – whether they’re lumping religious extremism all together or calling out the post-9/11 Islamaphobia reaction by the “devout.” This is the question that I have that I think makes this work stand above a lot of the other “Biblical fan fiction” that I’ve perused in my time. There’s a very intelligent design here (Really, I couldn’t help myself.) ,and it pays dividends for the whole series.
A quiet word in a room sometimes has the power to deflate any situation. Though it’s sharp here, this book has that understated power to take you unaware and make an impact on people who may not ordinarily pick up a Jesus-themed comic. It’s a fun way to make a point and a very successful one.
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