You didn’t really think this story was about Chris, did you?
The title of the book and the cover caught my eye on the comic shelf months ago when the first issue came out. The credits for the book said the story and art were both done by Sean Murphy, which made me hesitate at first. Sometimes writer/artists can be extremely lacking in one of those two areas. Fortunately for Sean Murphy, that isn’t the case here in his first outing as a writer.
So by last issue standards, how does this book stack up? Personally, I look for something that still surprises me with a last minute reveal and has pay offs for the major characters involved. I want to be left with the feeling of wanting to see more but being satisfied with what I got. And most importantly, especially for a mini-series, I want to be able to recommend the collected edition to my friends as another nugget of comic book gold that belongs on their bookshelf.
So we start out with some backstory for Thomas, the main bodyguard for our title character Chris. Much like Chris’ mother from a few issues ago, we see Thomas have a hallucination that becomes a religious experience for the character. It is the second time a more metaphysical element was shown in the pages of Punk Rock Jesus and each time when the character was alone. The moment in this issue sorta goes along with the theme that religion can be fine when it is a personal experience, and that gentle reminder comes in time for when we get shown how religion can affect an entire group of people at once.
When Chris and his band The Flak Jackets attempt to play a concert in Jerusalem, it seemed entirely expected that violence would erupt. That is what happens when you throw a bunch of religious groups in one area where violence, instead of peace, seems to be the answer. And does it ever get violent in these pages. The cost for the visit comes with the price of one person’s life and another person’s idea for salvation.
One big payoff happened with a reveal I knew was going to happen since the opportunity presented itself in the first issue. Then a couple other unexpected ones happened. That was the pace of the book, quick. It didn’t feel rushed, it just felt packed together. This was something that I found surprising coming from an artist’s first writing gig. The art never suffered through the book, it kept right along with the pace of the story, stopping for those moments that it needed to. It was just such a nice harmony between the two that I would love to see more again from Murphy.
And in the end…wow. You really thought this was about Chris, didn’t you? The story is about Chris’ ideas spreading, but the person who finds out who they are and accepts it is Thomas. I was ticked when it seemed to take awhile for us to get Chris aged to his Punk Rock Jesus look that was on the cover of the first issue, but I really didn’t understand who this story was about. Now things make a little more sense.
And do you know what I want to do now? Immediately go back and read all six issues in one go. Then I’m going to start recommending the book to everyone I know, and that collected edition can’t get here fast enough.