Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Punk Rock Jesus #1 of 6
Vertigo Comics (DC)
The Sean Murphy written and drawn comic book about a clone of Jesus growing up on a reality TV show and presumably joining a punk rock band launches this week. The book is not what I was expecting and that is both a good and bad thing. Sean Murphy is known for tremendous artwork and that doesn’t change in this issue. Though, in black and white, the comic book is heavily detailed and really tells a dense visual story. Overall, this oversized first issue is a very good step in a mini-series that you might want to keep your eye on.
I’ve read several interviews and promos about this book and I was taken aback when the book began in Ireland with an IRA standoff. This, as it turns out, was establishing the backstory of a character that becomes the bodyguard of the clone’s mother but it was such a strange way to begin this book. On the one hand, it’s powerful and selective in its violence, but on the other hand, I couldn’t make heads or tails of what this meant to the larger story until much later on. I suppose I was expecting a lot more about the mom and the reality show to open the book.
The reality show portion was essentially only on one or two pages and the selection process was mentioned but not really shown. This was another unexpected shift in the book from what I had read going in. I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of reading an American Idol Does Jesus kind of book so I was relieved that this comic focused on the characters in the story rather than the show aspect of it.
The best part of the book had to do with the hook at the very end. The clone is born and there is a very surprising twist to launch into the remainder of the series. Based on how much development Murphy put into the characters and their interactions with each other, I have a hard time seeing how he is going to resolve all of this and have the clone grow old enough to be in a band with only five issues remaining. We shall see.
The book has a lot of odd points where they serve the story but do not really seem that realistic. For example, I’ve seen enough reality shows to know the camera is invasive and “on” all the time. It’s seems unrealistic that the cameras would not be present at the time of the birth, allowing for a gap in what the audience sees. Another hole I didn’t like was when the kid shoots his Dad by mistake. He was specifically told to hold his fire until he heard his voice. Why wouldn’t the Dad speak? Did he just forget his own instructions?
Murphy’s artwork is the real attraction to this comic book. He packs such amazing detail into each panel that the book just feels as if it were poured over again and again to make it perfect. To carry this type of consistency throughout must have been very time consuming, but the end product certainly has that sense of artistic perfection, which means that it was time well spent.
Oddly, Vertigo is running an interview with Murphy in their other books but it does not appear in this one. This would have been helpful in order for the reader to understand some of the decisions made in this opening issue.
Punk Rock Jesus isn’t nearly as controversial as I had expected it to be, but the idea in the book is a sound one. A clone of Jesus living in modern times and the pressures that comes with it for him and those around him. This book is a good start in exploring that idea. I definitely recommend checking this issue out.
3 out of 5 Geek Goggles