Archive for Punk Rock Jesus

God Gave Rock ‘n Roll to You


Punk Rock Jesus #6

Much of the final issue focuses on Thomas McKael, the former IRA terrorist who became the security chief for the J2 project. We see his past, captured by the police and learning for the first time that his father planned to turn evidence against the IRA to keep his family safe. But Thomas’ uncle killed his parents to turn him into the terrorist he thought he should be. Soon enough, Thomas escapes from jail, heads for home and kills his uncle, then turns himself back in to the cops, where he has a vision of the Virgin Mary, who warns him that if he ever takes another life, she’ll send him to Hell.

But back to the present. Chris, the kid who may be the clone of Jesus Christ, and his punk rock band, the Flak Jackets, are preparing to play a concert in Jerusalem, just to anger as many religions as they can. And they’re entirely successful — someone shoots a rocket at them and kills their lead guitarist, and extremists kidnap Chris. Thomas saves him, but only by killing a number of other terrorists. Distraught, he asks Chris if he’s really the Son of God, or if he’s just damned himself for no reason. Chris scuttles the tour.

Slate, meanwhile, destroys the J2 complex to protect himself from criminal prosecution, leading Chris, Dr. Epstein, and her daughter Rebekah to go on TV to announce the bombshell revelation that Rebekah is actually Chris’ twin sister. The news prompts the New American Christians to attack the studio. Can everyone escape, or will someone make the ultimate sacrifice?

Verdict: Thumbs up. If I’ve got a complaint, it’s that it ends too abruptly. But I think that’s a minor nitpick, because this is still a glorious, visceral, action-packed read. The whole series has always teased blasphemy, but it’s said a lot more important stuff about belief, friendship, duty, and family. It’s a great series — I hope you got to read it all the way through, but if you didn’t, keep your eyes peeled for the trade paperback.


Batman Inc. #6

Batman goes after Talia, the head of Leviathan, to try to get her to leave Gotham and Damian alone. Nothing doing — she wants Batman dead, she wants Batman Inc. dead, she really wouldn’t mind too much seeing Damian dead. Will Batman be able to survive the hordes of cloned Man-Bats, fanatical cultists, and brainwashed children attacking him? Will the Knight, the Squire, Halo, Looker, Freight Train, and Batwing live or die? Will the rest of the Bat-family ever even leave the Batcave?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An extremely action-packed and tense story. And I’ll be honest, I don’t really care much whether Batman or Damian survive — it’s their comic, and they’re popular, money-making characters, so of course they’ll survive. But dang, I’m nervous about the survival chances of the Knight and Squire…

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The Hero Sandwich List of Favorite Comics for 2012

Well, 2012 is almost over, and I’m absolutely delighted to see it go. This has been, without a single doubt, the absolute worst year of my life.

My grandmother died in January — she was 100 years old, but nope, you’re never prepared for that, never, never. Three friends died of cancer. We lost Ray Bradbury. I was diagnosed with diabetes. “City of Heroes” was shut down.

Oh, I know, there are lots of ways it could’ve been worse. Lots of people have gone through more horrible things this year, and I’ve got it relatively good. My family is healthy and happy. I have a job that keeps a roof over my head, food on the table, and comics in the longboxes. I’ve lost about 45 pounds since July, and my health is overall pretty good.

Nevertheless. It’s been a deeply unpleasant, depressing, sorrowful year, and I won’t be at all sad to see it end.

And ya know, this hasn’t been a very good year for comics, either.

We’ve had to sit through DC firing Gail Simone from “Batgirl” for no apparent reason (and then hiring her back when they realized that she was much more popular than anyone else at the company); DC shutting down “Hellblazer” so they can try to turn John Constantine into a superhero; fans responding to the (truly awful sounding) Amazing Spider-Man #700 by making serious death threats against writer Dan Slott (Pff, like Slott came up with that? Joe Quesada and Alex Alonso probably thought that one up, then assigned him to work on it.); DC just straight up being a dick to Alan Moore almost all year long with the (mostly ignored by readers) “Before Watchmen” comics.

And dominating geek news for the entire year has been the bizarre hostility in comics and gaming toward anyone who isn’t a straight white male. In a lot of ways, the gaming industry has been far worse with the hating-on-everyone problem, but the new obsession with Fake Geek Girls is largely focused on the comics fan community, especially cosplayers. Tony Harris’s bizarre misogyny helped play it up, but DC and Marvel have had more than their fair share of He Man Woman Hater moments, too. Really, would you be particularly surprised if Dan DiDio announced he was firing all the female creators at DC?

I’m probably forgetting some really important awful moments for comics, too, but there have just been so dang many of them…

Even the year’s major successes — the films of “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” — were really to be attributed more to the skill, talent, and imagination of movie studios than to comics publishers.

DC, of course, has been the leader in bad comics and bad decisions. Marvel’s been a bit better, but has still shown too much enthusiasm for dull crossover events and poor judgement. The independents have been better than both of the Big Two — and yet I’ve still felt mostly bored with the comics that’ve been released this year.

I went through my pull-list earlier this year and stripped a lot of it out. I was tired of spending so much money on comics, of having to find storage space for all my books. And a lot of what I got rid of was actually pretty good. Scott Snyder’s Batman comic, for example, got pulled off my list. It was just fine, Snyder’s still a fantastic writer, and his work on the Dark Knight is just plain some of the best work anyone’s done with him for years. But I still took it off my list because I wasn’t excited about it. It wasn’t a book I looked forward to getting anymore. There were lots of comics like that — The Massive, Dark Horse Presents, Dial H, Demon Knights, Fatale, Frankenstein, Morning Glories, Popeye, Saucer Country, Unwritten, even B.P.R.D. — and I don’t really regret taking any of them off the list.

So what are my picks for my favorite comics of 2012? Here they are, in alphabetical order…


American Vampire

Still the best and most gloriously visceral horror comic we’ve got. Great characterization, art, and plotting make it a winner every issue.


Atomic Robo

Possibly the most consistently fun and entertaining comic out there. Any comic fan who isn’t reading this is utterly, utterly mad.


Avengers Academy

Cancelled long before its time, I loved this one for the great characterization and for its refusal to fall into the same boring traps as other teen-oriented comics. Random, shock-value deaths were avoided, and the heroes got out of plenty of problems by talking instead of fighting.


Axe Cop

This remains one of the best humor comics you’ll find — the Nicolle brothers are still hugely imaginative, funny, and audacious, even years after they started their comic.



Month after month, the best art you’re going to find in any comic book on the stands.



Probably the best pure superhero comic out there. Mark Waid’s Daredevil is fun, charismatic, clever, action-packed, and just all-around fantastic. And the art is usually pretty darn good, too.


The Goon

Rude? Yes. Hilarious? Yes. Unexpectedly emotional? Yes, yes, yes. Eric Powell would probably kick my ass for saying it, but he’s got more heart than any other comic book creator.


Love and Capes

This superhero sitcom is light on the action, but heavy on the humor, awesome characterization, and brainy storytelling. I would like more of you to read this, please.


Punk Rock Jesus

An amazing story combining religion, punk rock, politics of all stripes, science fiction, and our global obsessions with pop culture and entertainment. Sean Murphy deserves to win all kinds of awards for this.



A very fun modernized re-telling of Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark.” Great characters, dialogue, humor, and action, all wrapped up in a very friendly all-ages bow. I want Roger Langridge to make more and more comics, that’s all there is to it.


Wonder Woman

This isn’t really a superhero book at all — it’s part horror comic, part urban fantasy, part reboot of the ancient Greek myths. Half the fun of this is seeing what bizarre new forms the Greek gods and monsters will take.

So that’s what I’ve got for this year. I left off a lot of good comics — books that debuted in only the last few months, books that were cancelled in the first month or two of the year, books that were of unquestionably high-quality but which were nevertheless boring me when I finally dropped them.

What can we hope for in the future? I’m sure not dumb enough to try to make predictions, but I’d like to think that, after a year this bad, there’s nowhere the comics industry can go but up. Unfortunately, my optimism bone done got snapped off, and it wouldn’t shock me a bit to see things get even worse in 2013.

Hold on to your hats, and pray for miracles.

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The Joke’s on You

Batgirl #14

Barbara Gordon’s mother has been kidnapped, and Babs has now gotten a mysterious call from someone who claims to know the inside story. He keeps her occupied on the phone long enough for the kidnappers to come after her, too — and then she unleashes maximum pain on the trio of thugs. After that, the caller, who knows her secret identity, tells her where to find her mother… and the Joker. Can Batgirl save her mother and stop the Joker? Or does the Clown Prince of Crime have something terrible in store for her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Joker is thoroughly twisted (though I really can’t stand his new “Oooh, lookit us, aren’t we dark and hardcore” tattered-and-stitched-on face). The mysterious caller (who isn’t that mysterious, if you’ve been paying attention to the last few years of Batman comics) is wonderfully menacing. And Batgirl gets to be an absolute badass, which I’m always in favor of.

Punk Rock Jesus #5

As Chris, the supposed clone of Jesus, continues his infuriated tour as the lead singer of the Flak Jackets punk rock band, he earns angry denunciations from the New American Christians and meets up with Thomas, the former IRA terrorist turned security goon — and he offers to serve as the Flak Jackets’ new security manager, because he’d promised Chris’ late mother that he’d keep him safe. So the Flak Jackets get more and more popular, the protests get more and more vehement, and the potential crisis point gets more and more explosive — Chris decides he wants to take the band and his atheist message to Jerusalem.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art, great storytelling, wonderful action. It’s great to see even more of Thomas’ backstory — as interesting as Chris’ story has been, Thomas really has felt like the real star of this book.

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God Hates Everyone

Punk Rock Jesus #4

Gwen has been banned from the J2 compound and gone public in a big way, telling TV shows a lot of the dirty goings-on that the dastardly Rick Slate has engineered. The New American Christians invade the compound, with Gwen along for the ride so she can help rescue Chris. Unfortunately, Slate uses this as an excuse to murder Gwen, and when Thomas attacks Slate, he has the security chief fired. And the result on Chris is that he starts looking for how he can rebel — vast amounts of exercise, reading books on politics, religion, and science that Slate doesn’t approve of, listening to as much punk rock as he can. And when Chris volunteers to host the Grammys, what they get instead of a docile, telegenic, Jesus clone is a furious, foul-mouthed, mohawked, politically aware Jesus clone who’s looking to raise a punk rock army to blow America apart.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This just keeps getting better and better. Offensive? Bless its black little heart, you bet it is. Although, ya gotta say, a cloned, mohawked Jesus who bellows “Go f**k yourself! Jesus hates you!” is probably a lot less offensive when you consider all the mountains of awfulness he’s been put through so far. And Sean Murphy is doing such a great job with this story, I think I’ve got faith that it’s going to get better in the last two issues…

Halloween Eve

This Kickstarter-funded comic comes to us from writer Brandon Montclare and artist Amy Reeder. It focuses on Eve, a Halloween-hating wage slave who has the misfortune of working in a Halloween store. She’s rude to her coworkers, barely civil to customers, and is very angry that she’ll be required to dress in a costume on Halloween night. But when Eve has to stay late cleaning the store before Halloween, she soon finds the costumes around her coming to life and is thrown into a world full of monsters and ghosts. Will she be able to get into the Halloween spirit before time runs out?

Verdict: I hate to say it, but thumbs down. The art is entirely gorgeous, just like you’d expect from something Amy Reeder is working on. But I couldn’t get into the story at all, and I especially disliked the ending, which was far too abrupt and tidy, and Eve’s personality transfer, from angry and prickly to sweet and sentimental, doesn’t really make sense.

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Jesus Camp

Punk Rock Jesus #2

Chris, the supposed clone of Jesus, is the focus of a monumentally successful reality TV show — and also a figure of great controversy, with scientists denying his divinity and Christian fundamentalists demanding either his release from the island where he and his mother Gwen are kept — or his death. Slate, the slimeball who runs the show, sets out faking some miracles on Chris’ behalf, while Gwen starts to drift into depression and alcoholism. Dr. Epstein announces that she’s conveniently pregnant with a girl — she claims she’s used her cloning expertise to get around her inability to have children. Gwen wants to see her parents again and persuades Thomas McKael, the show’s taciturn Irish security chief, to take her on a secret field trip. But there’s no way to take one of the stars of the most popular TV show in history out into the world without attracting a lot of attention.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Sean Murphy’s art is just fantastic, and the characterization he’s doing is also great fun. Slate is turning into a wonderfully despicable villain, and even minor characters, like the hacker, Tim, are given good personalities. This is great fun, so far — hope it continues being so enjoyable.

The Massive #3

The Kapital repels some pirates trying to board the ship, we get a quick flashback of how Callum Israel and his crew decided whether to stick to nonviolence after the global disasters destroyed the environment and the economy, and everyone docks back at one of their secret bases, a small town called Unalaska. Plus we get more details about some of the catastrophes that have befallen Earth’s populace in the last few years.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent storytelling, good development of characters, strong mood and worldbuilding. I know, that’s all kinda dispassionate, but I feel like I have to say more about this than just “Me like comic, it am fun.”

American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #3

Dracula — who may not be the historical Dracula, but is at least the leader of all of the Carpathian vampires — has been awakened and is able to control the mind of Gus, Felicia Book’s son. Agent Hobbes believes he’s trying to turn Gus into his new Renfield — a human servant who is utterly dominated by the vampire’s will. The Soviets think they can contain Dracula, but they don’t know how much danger they’re in. And Felicia and Hobbes run into a vampire organization called “The Firsts” which consists mainly of the last surviving members of vampire clans killed off by the Carpathians.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not bad — lots of vampires, lots of mystery, good action. The only problem has gotta be that the Carpathian vamps just aren’t as charismatic and fun as the American ones…

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Hurray for Blasphemy!

Punk Rock Jesus #1

Well, yes, I had to get it. I’m at least 98% evil, after all.

Here’s the basic gimmick: in the near-future, a mega-wealthy TV network hires a genius genetic engineer to harvest DNA from the Shroud of Turin and clone Jesus Christ. Then they hire a telegenic new Virgin Mary to be the baby’s surrogate mother, tweak the baby’s DNA to make sure he looks Caucasian and not like some awful brown person, and put the whole thing on TV as a reality show. Holy urine-soaked crucifixes, that’s downright sacrilicious!

Having said all that, it’s not nearly as evil as it sounds. Nearly all the players here people I’d classify as good guys. There’s the razor-edged security expert who’s working off the bad karma of years as an IRA terrorist, the genetic expert who’s doing the job mainly for the funding she can use to help save the oceans, the teen mother who’s going through this mainly to pay off her family’s debts and who worries that she’s a bad mother for even agreeing to all this. Our one serious villain is the TV network exec who thought up the whole scheme and who seems to have a completely nonfunctional moral code. To list all the awful things he does would constitute some major spoilers, so you can discover those for yourself.

The story is pretty brainy, too. If you know anything about the Shroud of Turin, you know it’s almost certainly not Jesus’ burial cloth — carbon dating places its age at around 750 years old. And this is actually addressed in the story — a scientist and a very excitable preacher debate that, and several of the “J2” project members admit that they don’t think the baby is actually the Son of God.

My primary objection is that there’s a certain level of strawmanning going on for most of the religious folks. They range from the furiously angry near-terrorist group that protests the J2 project to the excitable preacher in the debate who has no grasp of either theology or science — he’s really only there to get slapped around by the scientist.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, seriously, not saying that just to be a contrary little cuss. It’s a great little concept — how would Jesus — or a clone who’d been raised as a Jesus substitute by the mass media — grow up? It’s a pretty sure bet that he’s not going to be the blond mild-mannered martyr from “Baby’s First Bible” — after all, the comic is called “Punk Rock Jesus.”

I enjoyed the initial focus on Thomas McKael, the ex-IRA terrorist/security chief. We get a glimpse of his terrible, terrible childhood, then meet him all grown up and razor-edged.

I like all the other characters, too — with the very, very notable exception of Slate, the utterly rotten TV executive. He’s definitely someone you’re going to love to hate.

I love Sean Murphy’s art, probably more than I do his writing. It’s all black and white, amazingly expressive. If there’s a single moment that really strikes me as remarkably good art, it’s when Gwen, the baby’s mother, having an anxiety attack just before she gives birth, sorrowfully frets that she’s a bad mother. The next panel features razor-edged security goon Thomas McKael with just a very subtle hint of sadness on his face. It’s a beautiful moment, considering his childhood, and a great piece of characterization.

All that, plus the twist in the final pages is pretty amazing.

Batgirl #11

Batgirl faces off against a team of supervillains called the Disgraced — winged warrior Katharsis, acid-secreting Bleak Michael, superstrong Bonebreaker, and the leader, Knightfall. They want her to join them, and of course, she says no. They attack, and she does pretty well for a bit, but they get her down, they get ready to kill her — and she gets rescued by Det. Melody McKenna, a Gotham cop who actually hates Batgirl’s guts. She gives Batgirl the low-down on socialite Charise Carnes, Knightfall’s alter ego — and she reveals that there’s another member of the Bat-family who’s coming after her.

Verdict: Thumbs up. For once, I didn’t even mind Barbara not being able to beat up her attackers — after all, there were four of ’em, so she did alright. Good action, good dialogue, some very, very ominous stuff happening back at her apartment, and a very interesting team-up on the way next issue.

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