Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review: Punk Rock Jesus

Sean Murphy (Joe the Barbarian, Off Road) writes and draws this original take on religion, reality TV and redemption.

Ophis, a big american corporation, decides to clone Jesus Christ from DNA taken from the Shroud of Turin and make a reality TV show from it. Chris (Jesus Christ clone) is born and is raise in the J2 complex along side his mother, body guard and other Ophis staff. But is this complex safe enough to protect him from the World? Or to protect the world from him?

Chris is going to leave his mark on the World. Through Punk Rock music Chris will fight against blind religious fanaticism and corporate greed.

How is it?

The story is basically that. A clone of Jesus Christ become a megastar in his own reality TV show. Then he wakes up and is introduced in the "real world". Then he joins a punk rock band and takes the world by storm.

Its actually more complex than this, but going into detail could spoil any of the great moments the book as prepared for you. Instead I'll describe my personal reading experience with Punk Rock Jesus.

NAC Attack
I came into this book wanting to love it. I've followed Sean Murphy's work relatively closely and have been accustomed to great things from him. Be it as a writer or an artist Sean usually delivers top notch work. And I expected nothing less than great this time.

In the first third of the book, while the story mainly revolves around Chris's mother and her relationship with both J2 and the rest of the World, I was a bit disappointed at first. Many characters come off as one dimensional and even as caricatures of stereotypes (like the Catholic fanatic and the Scientific agnostic commentator). I was expecting more Jesus and less IRA.

Then in the last two thirds the book got amazingly good. The characters get fleshed out and gain several layers of depth that allow the reader to connect with them. You bond emotionally with the characters and take a genuine interest with their fate. Religious fanaticism, corporate greed and, in a smaller amount, a sense of karmic justice populate this section of the book. The how's and why's of every main character is very neatly seamed together with the main story.

One aspect of this book were the quality of Sean Murphy's work is unquestionable is the art department. The Black & White art is near perfect. Every book drawn by Sean Murphy increases in quality. In Punk Rock Jesus Sean went for a highly detailed art style with very dynamic panel layouts and fluid action. There are a few areas where he can improve, but art wise this book is a absolute joy to behold.

Chris and the Flak Jackets

The character designs are unique. The reader is never confused about what or whom he/she is looking at. The visual transformation the Chris goes through since birth to punk rock superstar is just amazing to follow. Likewise for some of the other characters, like his mother or his body guard.

Visually this book is never stale or boring. On the contrary, its vibrant and extremely interesting. Its made to be in B&W and its as perfect as it possible. I didn't miss color one bit.


Short version: buy it.

Longer version: If you're worried that its religious propaganda or anti-religious propaganda, then don't. Its not. Its anti-fanaticism, be it religious or not. Sean Murphy showed a good amount of care when approaching some sensible issues like faith, personal freedom and dogma. Don't get stuck in the title of the book. This is not about punk rock. It is however about Jesus, or a clone of him.

Punk Rock Jesus is a great book with top notch B&W art that will keep you reading until the very end. And you'll be wanting for more. I had high expectations and I was not disappointed.

Publisher: Vertigo
Year: 2013
Pages: 224
Authors: Sean Murphy

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  1. Sean Murphy is sooo great! Does the trade include additional pages? I read somewhere that Sean did some extra pages that weren't included on the single issues.

    Good observations about the b&w, I think when an artist is really extraordinary (Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Will Eisner, etc.) they can work in colors or in black and white and it makes no difference: their art always looks beautiful.

    1. There are some extras, like drafts and covers. I don't know if there are actually extra story pages.

      Agreed, a good artist can work both styles.

    2. Are you buying Vertigo's Wake? Sean Murphy is the artist. I think it'll be quite good.

      Oh, and did you read my latest Neon Genesis Evangelion review? You should check it out.

    3. I don't have Wake on my wishlist. At least not for now.

      I've not read it yet. I'm out of my country atm and have little internet time. But I will as soon as I can.

  2. Thanks Rui, I had forgotten about this book. It sounds great, I like what little I have seen of Murphy's art and the story sounds fascinating.

    Cheers man.

    1. Hi Joe,

      Sean Murphy's art is stellar. He is one of my favorite artists. At least on that aspect this won't let you down :)