American Jesus: New Messiah #2 Review - Christ, the Teenage Years
• Image Comics (Publisher)
American Jesus #2 gives us a huge time jump from the last installment and drops into the '90s, presumably around the time of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco TX.
Our leads have officially joined up with the cult and have been living on the compound for approximately 18 years. Catalina is seen as the second coming and is protected as such. The problem is that she doesn't believe any of the religious idealogy and even calls out the circumstances of her virgin birth as a lie.
American Jesus #2 isn't as focused as the first installment and largely seems to be set up for the next issue. The come spend's it's time introduce key elements that I'm sure will play into the rest of the series. The nearest comparison I can make would be how Iron Man started the MCU, while Iron Man 2 did most of the heavy world-building.
The cult is led by Ezekiel. He's clearly a take on controversial religious leader, David Koresh. None of the cultists are portrayed out of the ordinary aside from the religious conviction which I found to be unique in relation to how cult's are typically portrayed. I'm sure the real world events will play into the story in some capacity. I also believe it may be possible that the portrayal of the cultists may be a commentary on how people are demonized as monsters once the media get involved are able to color the narrative. This would also feed into the conspiracy angle of the story.
Speaking of conspiracy, Miller layers on more religious conspiracies into the story including the controversial subject of Jesus is a messiah in a long line of messiahs that have appeared throughout human history. When Catalina presents this information to her mother the response boils down to "It's complicated". I'm glad that no right or wrong answer is presented here. This is a very mature take on the subject matter being presented in this material.
Catalina is interesting as the potential new messiah. She questions everything and seems to be a stand-in for the reader. This is good stuff but I call bullshit on her knowledge base. I'm 35 and most of my knowledge of religious conspiracy came with internet access. It's hard to believe that all of the knowledge bombs being dropped would be readily available. I'm not saying it's impossible but it stood out as odd especially when contrast with how secretive other facets of the cult appear to be.
If you're a hardline Christian I can see aspects of this issue being annoying for you. Some of the info dumps are heavy-handed and got an eye roll out of me but overall the story works and kept me engaged. Issue #3 looks to be pretty eventful. I pray for all of the characters involved because it's not looking good for our cast.