Second Coming stands poised to be the most controversial new comic book series of 2019. Odds are you already know something about it and came here to learn if the book lives up to the hype. On the odd chance you haven’t heard about this controversial little comic before now, here’s the short version.
Writer Mark Russell (The Snagglepuss Chronicles) and artist Richard Pace (Imaginary Fiends) went to Vertigo Comics with an idea about a comic centered around Jesus of Nazareth returning to Earth in the modern day and being trained in how to be a “real” savior by a superhero named Sun-Star. The book would examine both traditional superheroes and how Western Civilization largely fails to live up to the ideals of Jesus’ teachings. Vertigo said this sounded awesome and announced that they would be printing it as part of their revival line back in June 2018.
This upset the same goodly folk who are currently petitioning Netflix to cancel the series Good Omens, despite it being a six-episode limited series and having been released by Amazon Prime. Still, the Powers That Be at Vertigo, having apparently forgotten they’re the company that published Preacher, elected not to court controversy, gave the book back to Russell and Pace and allowed them to take it elsewhere. They took it to Ahoy Comics, who brought the book to the masses like so many loaves and fishes.
Those hoping for Second Coming to be a blasphemous rant upon the evils of religion will be sorely disappointed. While Russell’s story has bite, it has no true villains in this first issue and even the antagonists are sympathetic figures. Even God Himself.
Russell’s take on God is that of a parent who tries to be their kids’ best friend, yet grows increasingly frustrated in trying to fill both roles. Despite everything He is still a compassionate supreme being, even if His idea of trying to make people into better people involves tough love and doing unto others as they did unto others. This is the Old Testament Jehova, but the effect through Russell’s lens is a combination of Morgan Freeman’s trickster mentor God in Bruce Almighty and the God of the Depeche Mode song “Blasphemous Rumors.”
Our own personal Jesus is likewise depicted as the kind, loving and idealistic fellow from the New Testament, who tried to get people to solve their problems peacefully… for all the good it did. Our Superman expy Sun-Star is perhaps the greatest deviation from the written word that inspired him, being a Superman who turns to violence as a first resort and is more concerned with the letter of the law than the intent. Quite honestly, Second Coming is far more critical of Zack Snyder’s view of Superman than it is the Holy Bible.
The artwork by Richard Pace is brilliantly executed and vividly detailed. Pace is a gifted artist capable of working with a variety of styles and there are distinctive designs, color palettes and inking methods utilized for the scenes set in the past, the scenes set in Heaven and the modern day superheroic setting of Urban City. These last scenes are finished by Leonard Kirk with colors by Andy Troy, but you’d honestly think an entirely different artist had started them, such is Pace’s skill as an artistic chameleon.
In short, Second Coming is not the herald of the end-times that was predicted by some comic critics. It is a thoughtful and well-drawn story in the same vein as Kevin Smith’s Dogma. The rough tone may offend some, but the message of love at its heart would likely have been lost on them anyway. Those who approach it with open minds, however, will be treated to one of the most original comic books in recent memory.
Second Coming #1 releases on July 10, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.