Second Coming #1 Review - I'm not offended but disappointed nevertheless
Updated: Sep 4, 2020
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In the past two years, Mark Russell has become one of my favorite comic book writers. He wrote my favorite series of 2018, Snagglepuss. My favorite single issue of 2018, Lex Luthor & Porky Pig. He also recently concluded an excellent Lone Ranger mini-series with Dynamite.
Second Coming may become a great series now that the setup is out of the way, but this issue is uneven, putting it mildly. The main problem with the comic isn't the obvious religious riffs, it's the humor. The book is working entirely too hard to get laughs.
One of the reasons I love Mark's writing is that he's a master of pulling laughs out of a painful situation that most of us can relate to in modern American culture. In Second Coming, the jokes fell obvious and tired. The irony is still there, but the observations of the contradictory nature of old and new testaments have been popping up for literally thousands of years. Nothing new is being said about the nature of religion so why mock it?
There is one particularly bad joke in which the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil has been replaced with genitals. It's an attempt at humor, but it's pointless. If I was offended by anything in the issue it would have been there.
Second Coming has the potential to be really good or be really bad. The premise has always been strange. Jesus being sent back to earth to learn how to be a God from a modern Superman type hero feels totally pretentious. However, Jesus returning and attempting to deliver his message in 2019 is a brave and inspired choice.
I didn't care for the portrayal of "God" in the issue. He's not evil but he reminds me of Peter Milligan's Nero from Britannia minus the insanity. I did like the depiction of Jesus and the comic's hero, Sunstar.
Sunstar is clearly a Superman riff but he has very basic human problems. Which contradicts the very reason that Jesus is sent back to earth in the first place.
Jesus is likable and all of the scenes with him are pretty good when he's not speaking with modern inflections. For example, I never liked the cross as the symbol of Christianity but I understand it. It's just weird that the symbol of faith is a torture device.
Obviously, Mark feels the same way but the fact that his Jesus is "triggered" by the sight of a cross is weird. Especially when the art doesn't convey any sort of emotion.
I mentioned that I liked Sunstar, the character, but I don't like the generic design choices for him. Pace doesn't really give the guy any musculature. In addition to bland design, the character's personal issues make him come off as weak. You'd expect when the outward depiction of the character to be awe-inspiring but he just looks like a guy. My mind keeps going to the Fleisher version of Superman when I see Sunstar.
Second Coming isn't the worst thing ever. It does have some decent and cringe moments. Hopefully, Mark and Richard work those things out because there is potential for a decent story here. The dicks and over the top portrayal of God is lamer than anything and need to be toned down immediately. If the focus stays primarily on Jesus and Sunstar bonding this could turn into a great story despite the initial offering.