ComicList Critiques by Charles LePage
Dust #1 (Fire From Heaven)
Alan Close, Kent Dobson
Comic book adaptations of other media are always a tricky venture. Adaptations of the Bible are especially risky. Since you are presumably bringing a Biblical story to an audience that has chosen to read your comic instead of the Bible, there’s always the possibility of adding or taking away from the Word of God so as to appeal to said audience. Unfortunately, that means there’s the possibility of alienating readers who will not tolerate any deviation. Dust #1 walks that fine line, and for the most part, doesn’t go too far off the ranch.
This issue is a graphical depiction of 1 Kings from chapter 18 to 19:3. God sends his prophet Elijah to worshipers of Baal, who, among other attributes, was the god who brought rain to Samarians. There had been a long drought and famine, and God was now going to show the Samarians who the real God was. After issuing a challenge to the Baal worshipers, a challenge that of course Baal lost, God had the prophets of Baal killed, and brought a much needed rain to the land. The story ends with Jezebel announcing Elijah must be killed as well.
The writing is fine– it neither includes or excludes too much of the actual story. The comment from Elijah that Baal possibly “stepped out to relieve himself” goes beyond paraphrasing, but in my opinion, it’s not so much that it distracts the reader. The art is not exactly up the level of what you would see in a “mainstream” comic, but at least, unlike some small press ventures, you can identify characters from page to page, and their emotions are usually displayed clearly. It helps that everyone is in a generally grumpy mood, given the abundance of suffering and anger the tale contains.
Other than the art, my only other complaint, if you can call it that, is that the version of the Bible used is the NIV. I believe the King James continues to be the best English language Bible available. However, nothing stopped me from reading 1 Kings in my KJ as opposed to reading the NIV version at the end of the book.
I highly appreciated the Kicking Up Dust and Dusting For Prints features at the end of the book. It occurred to me this would be a great comic to share with my almost teenage daughters, not because it’s a perfect book, but because it would get them thinking of the Bible. In fact, I might ask them to write a review of it, for a different perspective.
If you enjoy Dust, you might want to hunt down Chester Brown’s adaptations of the Gospels found in Yummy Fur and Underwater. Chester, to the best of my knowledge, wasn’t attempting to help spread God’s Word like the folks at Dust Press, but just the same, they are worth the time.