Thee Comic Column #4 Punk Rock Jesus

When I first read about Punk Rock Jesus in Comic Shop Insider I was intrigued. I’m not one to fall in for the tropes of ‘punk’ – I’m pretty much of the opinion that nothing has really been ‘punk’ since about 1979. HOWEVER – I’ve always thought the real-world, over-used visual stylings of safety pins, liberty spikes and tattoes can still be used to great effect in fictional realms. There’s something about having grown up in the late 70’s, early 80’s, when movies and comics were using the left over punk imagery to shape very nihilistic and often destitute characters and tableaus for their visions of the  future. Think about Chris Claremont’s early-eighties Uncanny X-men and his Morlocks, or cinema wise think Mad Max*, as well as pretty much every cop movie or show at the time, where the hoods often had mohawks, chains, spiked wristbands and of course, switchblades.

Here’s the interesting the about Punk Rock Jesus though – although Sean Murphy’s comic is indeed a vision of the future, and it is decidedly distopian, thus far at least these elements can be ascertained more through the heightened consumerist frenzy of the background population than any of the main characters. This is an interesting way to tell a story – where society itself is as much a character as it is a backdrop for the ‘main players’ you follow every month. It’s a good way to critique what’s going on around you by extrapolating it into something close to a warning of what you feel may come and in this case the author doesn’t have to extrapolate far, because we’re pretty much right there folks. And yet this method (or at least in Mr. Murphy’s hands) doesn’t suffer from the soapbox meglomania that often accompanies such warnings. In Mr. Murphy’s vision of the future, while the character of society froths and begs for their next ‘ultimate thing’ the Powers-That-Be (also a character body) have finally reached and cleared the “Nothing is Sacred” plateau many of us have always predicted they would. How have they done this? Some of Christ’s DNA has been extracted from the Shroud of Turin and used to clone him for – wait for it – A TELEVISION REALITY SHOW.

courtesy of uncannyxmen.net

Wow, right?

Now in order to do this those holding the DNA would need a woman to carry the clone-baby to term, so a high-profile, ratings-fueled american idol-type contest is held in order to pick the lucky girl who will carry said clone to fruition. From that point the ‘holy family’ becomes the subject of a ravenously popular reality tv show that will follow young Jesus 2.0 as he grows. Only everything is not quite as it seems. The “Mary” in this story – actually an 18-year old girl named Gwen –  is contractually obligated to basically give her life to the Network. She and her Christ-baby live behind Their walls, are protected (or held prisoner by?) Their  in-house security – a man named Thomas who is an enigmatic and very violent ex-IRA operative – and are pretty much constantly manipulated by the company man Slate and his reluctant and slightly morally ambiguous Dr. Sarah Epstein, who he has hired and assigned to the “well-being” of the family.

As we come into the story (we’re only three issues in thus far, however #1 and #2 sold out fairly quickly and are well into their 2nd printing, so run out and pick ‘em up!) we get the set-up of Slate, Dr. Sarah and Thomas – issue #1 actually begins with Thomas, so no doubt his story is just as important to the overall arc of the books as J2’s – and of course Gwen, who despite having second thoughts at the last minute does indeed give birth to the Jesus clone. Yarns spinning in the sub-plot sphere pertain to a violently devout Christian movement – the New American Christians or NAC for short – that pretty much plays as Sean Murphy’s theory on how far the Teabaggers might just go. And then there’s the polar bear, but I won’t get into that, I’ll just use it as a final ingredient to wet your comic-reading appetites and tell you that I’m finally reading to lay it down for Christ – in comic book form!

Thank you Sean Murphy and if’n ever we meet I’d love to buy you a pint and a basket o’ chips sir.

………………

* Did you remember Mad Max being a good when you saw it as a child, only to grow up and find upon re-watching it that other than the stunt driving the movie is not good at all? Me too.

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

5 Responses to Thee Comic Column #4 Punk Rock Jesus
  1. [...] Conversely, issue one ends with a single page set 100,000 years in the past and issue two begins with a ... joup.co/thee-comic-column-43-snyder-murphys-the-wake
  2. Shawn Reply

    I liked it. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I found it a tiny bit anti-climactic, but here’s a link to an interview with Mr. Murphy – he explains a bit of the reason for that:
    http://www.newsarama.com/comics/sean-murphy-punk-rock-jesus-beyond.html

  3. Joe Grez

    JGrez Reply

    Shawn, what did you think about how the series concluded? I was a bit torn about it thinking that maybe it should go on for longer (maybe it still can), but none the less really a fitting conclusion. Maybe it does leave it open for more?

  4. Joe Grez

    JGrez Reply

    Sold. Completely sold. I really hope this turns into a featured Vertigo title rather then just a six part (that is unless Vertigo itself goes by the way side). Still…awaiting the conclusion now to this as I bet you are.

  5. Joe Grez

    JGrez Reply

    Finally, got a reader for Mac OSX. It’s called Simple Comic developed by http://dancingtortoise.com/simplecomic/ And have taken your suggestion on downloading Punk Rock Jesus. I dig that it is in Black and White. Gonna have a read through and further respond.

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