Thursday, August 9, 2012

Only one book I wanted to spotlight this week, and it didn't even come out this week. First and foremost, let me say this: Sean Murphy's new creator-owned mini series from DC's adults only Vertigo imprint, Punk Rock Jesus, is certainly not going to be for everyone. There is some seriously touchy subject matter going on here. Genetics, cloning, Christianity, evolution, atheism, teen pregnancy, and yes, even *shudder* reality television. For those still reading along here, buckle up, we're about to get biblical.

Punk Rock Jesus takes place in the year 2019. A brilliant geneticist, Dr. Sarah Epstein, has made great strides in her cloning research, nearing breakthroughs in environmentalism by delaying the extinction of polar bears via cloning, and the creation of a Hyper Plant which fought against global warming by feeding off of CO2 at an accelerated rate. Unfortunately, her research requires funding to continue and this is where television studio Ophis steps in. In exchange for the money Dr. Epstein needs, she is tasked with cloning a human being for their newest idea for a reality show. The human in question? Jesus Christ. Ophis wants to manufacture the second coming of Christ and air it as a reality series. The first step of the "J2 Project" is for the doctor to extract DNA from the Shroud of Turin in order to complete the cloning process, the next step? Finding their "Virgin Mary". Open auditions for teenage virgin females are held all over the counrty, and finally Ophis decides on an 18 year old named Gwen. She's implanted with the cloned DNA, fast forward 9 months, and the world is introduced to Ophis' newest reality sensation, J2, which stars Gwen, teenage mom to the second coming of the Messiah, a baby boy named Chris.

Oh my, and to think I almost didn't sign up for this book. Boy, is my face red. I like Sean Murphy's art, I absolutely loved Joe the Barbarian which he collaborated with Grant Morrison on, but that was the only thing he'd ever done that I'd seen. I wasn't sure I would dig Sean Murphy as a writer, and I already read a TON of stuff, plus it was a book about a new reality show about Jesus. If you know me at all, you know there's not a whole lot in the last part of that sentence that I'm interested in at all. But then I read a fantastic interview with him, and he basically sold me on the book. I will be eternally grateful that he did. This book is phenomenal, and I am madly in love with it in just two issues. I will openly weep when the 6th and final issue ships.

Sean's art is absolutely flawless here, it's quite obvious that this is his baby, and he's giving his all to it. It's a black and white comic, which I must admit to being a bit biased to as I absolutely love black and white art, and the pencil and ink work leap off the page. There is some insane detail work that I can't help but feel like would've been covered up had it been colored. Statistically, black and white books don't sell as well, so it's a bit of a ballsy move on his part, but in my opinion it pays off in spades. The story, well I said enough about it above. It's sure to offend the Bible thumpers out there, particularly when they catch a glimpse of the way the Christian protesters are portrayed, but as far as I'm concerned it's a hilariously relevant satire of the state of the entertainment industry and religion in this country today. I've laughed my ass off through two issues so far.

Again, this is a hard sell for everybody, but I'm confident that if you're reading this blog on a regular basis, you'll get as big of a kick out of Punk Rock Jesus as I am. Gorgeously detailed black and white art and a story that I wish would never end, 6 issues just isn't enough. I have hopes that Sean will continue this story past this first mini-series, but I have every intention of enjoying this while it lasts, and am sure I will revisit many more times past this initial reading.

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