It seems the year is disappearing in front of my eyes – we’re rapidly approaching the end of October, and I’m sure it’ll only be another blink of the eyes until the year is done and dusted. Mercifully, despite the quickly vanishing months, this week’s comic is sure to stick in your memory. This week, we’re covering a modern classic – Punk Rock Jesus, a tale of religion, rebellion, and a Messiah with an attitude. Punk Rock Jesus is written and drawn by one of my favourite contemporary comic writer/artists, Sean Murphy (Batman: White Knight, American Vampire), and I’m honestly disappointed that I hadn’t picked it up ‘til now. Funnily enough, Punk Rock Jesus was written in 2012 and published on DC’s sadly discontinued Vertigo imprint, but was set in 2019, which makes it strangely relevant as it draws some eerie parallels to modern-day society.
In 2019, the entertainment mega-conglomerate OPHIS has done the impossible: they’ve successfully cloned the Messiah. Jesus Christ himself has been reborn through the miracles wrought by modern science – DNA scraped from the Shroud of Turin has been moulded into a viable state, and artificially inseminated into naive young woman – Gwen, a new Mary for the modern era. Jesus – named Chris by his mother – has been destined to grow up in his very own Truman Show, surrounded by cameras and watched by the public 24/7, with only his mother, his best friend and his bodyguard for company. As he grows older, his mother’s mental health slowly begins to deteriorate, locked away from the ravenous fans and religious extremists that want to worship and/or murder them, and after a series of traumatic events, compounded by OPHIS’ iron fist, Gwen is killed. Disillusioned by the cut-throat corporate sideshow that is his life, and infuriated by the religious fundamentalism infesting his world, Chris delves into the works of Darwin, Sagan and the Dead Kennedys – and the Punk Rock Jesus is born. Breaking out of his corporate-sponsored prison, Chris joins up-and-coming punk band The Flak Jackets, and sets out to burn the world down.
If the above paragraph wasn’t enough of an indication, Punk Rock Jesus covers a lot of ground. Murphy dutifully transcribes the events leading up to Chris’ birth, his infancy, his early years and well into his teen years, as well as masterfully laying out a tale of corporate intrigue, ruthlessness and redemption to drive events along. The buildup to Chris finally taking up the mantle of the Punk Rock Jesus is long, but ultimately worth it – the tragedies and trauma he endures, as well as the few positive influences in his life, make it seem like a slow but natural progression. It’s also worth noting that I’ve skipped over an entire subplot revolving around a main supporting character and his backstory, which takes up a significant amount of page space and serves as a similarly brutal tale of redemption and finding oneself.
As I said above, I’m of the firm belief that Punk Rock Jesus is a modern classic. Sean Murphy has had a hand in crafting some of my favourite stories in recent years, and Punk Rock Jesus is no exception. It’s a tale of teen angst, rebellion, and celebrity, and I freakin’ loved it. Give it a read!
Written by Alastair McGibbon