Betvin Geant and Kay have consistently produced a thoughtful, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining book in Rise of the Antichrist. What’s incredible is that every issue has managed to up the ante in scale and scope, mining the source material and creating a depth of character that drives the plot. The premise of a man with powers and a history of mental illness assuming the role of the Savior makes for an unusual hook, and what makes it truly interesting is the fact that the story rides the fine line between deranged superbeing and actual son of God. Michael manages to always find an answer through his faith, but it’s never overtly evident whether these are actually signs from a deity or the result of a mind searching for answers and finding them in itself. This issue ramps all of these things to 11 and leaves us with one hell of a final page.
This title is one of the most unique stories being told right now, and it doesn’t shy away from the knowledge that the source material can be divisive. In fact, it’s written in a way that allows for open interpretation. The subtle clues and nods to names and events show either divine placement or incredible coincidence, and for myself (who ascribes more to the “insane powered individual” side of things), it’s the weight of the coincidence that can make me see and appreciate the other side of the coin. For me, Michael is answering his own prayers because he can make God say anything he wants to hear to bolster his own fears and motivations. The end of this issue throws it into a blender, though, as things take an amazingly dark turn. It honestly reminds me of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac a bit, where things have begun to gain a momentum that somehow can’t seem to be stopped.
Interior artist Kay has put together perhaps the most amazing issue yet, in addition to the stunning cover (by artist Michael MacRae) replicating Jesus in prayer. (Pretty sure in the garden of Gesthemenie, but dude prayed a lot so I can’t entirely be sure. Since it’s typically hung in funeral homes and based on the subject matter at hand, that’s what I’m going with.) It’s a well-known image if you grew up in that tradition, and it’s a very powerful one to use. I love the bold choice of it, as well as the other techniques he uses throughout this issue. The work is solid and exciting, with the images and story taking the lead from each other in a wonderfully cohesive way.
This is the most exciting and disturbing issue thus far in what has been a solid series. There are so many good plot questions floating about that I can’t wait to see resolved, and I know that the journey to get there will be one helluva ride.
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