Punk Rock Jesus #1

by stephengervais on August 12, 2012

Once in a while a comic comes around that upon reading it you love it so much you want all your friends to read it to see you’re over reacting. That’s how I felt about Punk Rock Jesus #1. Upon closing the cover I Tweeted the world to pick it up and sent a text to various friends that they must read this book. Brought to us by the DC imprint Vertigo and both written and drawn by the very talented Sean Murphy I stand by initial elated reaction to this issue.

The concept behind Murphy’s incarnation is a big corporation has paid some scientists to extract the DNA of Jesus from the Shroud of Turin to create a clone to star in a new reality TV show. The entire process and the birth of the clone are captured by television cameras and broadcast around the world much to the chagrin of the both religious and scientific community.

The clone of Jesus known as J2 and Chris barely appears in the first issue. Instead Murphy introduces us to vast array of supporting characters. All of which give us different perspectives on the challenging questions raised by such a controversial subject. I have my own personal beliefs on cloning and never really gave the other arguments much thought. I find this is where the issue excels is how well Murphy portrays the viewpoints of all involved. You really start to understand how the opinions of others are devised either through their way of thinking or how their personal situation affects the motivation behind their decisions.

With so many great characters already introduced the potential for the story is limitless. Murphy has managed to create an entire universe with his introductory installment of Punk Rock Jesus. The main supporting character appears to be the head of security, Thomas McKael. In fact the first 8 pages of the issue are a flashback to when Thomas is a young boy and how the events of a particular incident shaped his life. This former IRA fighter has seemingly decided to now dedicate his life to protecting the J2 project. To round out the cast of characters we have the surrogate mother, the crusading scientist, the immoral corporate man, and the throngs of protesters and supporters. The writer does a wonderful job giving each of these characters a voice and personality in such a limited time frame. I already have feelings, good and bad, for each individual. That sort of character development is truly a hard thing to accomplish within the confinements of one issue.

Apart from the impressive story Murphy also blesses us with some of the finest art to ever grace the pages of a comic book. Murphy decided on a black and white format for this mini-series and by the looks of the first issue he definitely made the right decision. The details in his characters and their surroundings bring each panel to life. He knows exactly when to give a detailed background and when it’s not necessary or when it could distract from the dialogue. Not to take away from the realism of his characters but his work on their environment blew me away. Being a huge fan of cityscapes and bridge artwork there are several panels in this issue that I went back to admire after completing it.

 Among the many ethical questions raised with the whole premise of this story I found that perhaps the most important and most interesting was do the end results justify the means? To me it appears the characters know they are potentially compromising their morals but feel the compensation in doing so will far outweigh the costs.

The last thing I loved about this story is that even if it’s not all that realistic it is entirely plausible. I mean the chances of finding DNA for Jesus are pretty slim but if they could find some who knows what science and money could do with it. Throw in the way reality TV rules the airways nowadays and I really could see this happening.

All in all Sean Murphy provides us with a great story and artwork. He introduces us to so many interesting characters and lays the groundwork for what looks to be an amazing ride. The cliffhanger for this issue is one that’ll actually make you gasp. This is such an overall solid issue I can’t recommend it enough.

Our Score:


A Look Inside