Short Version: Punk Rock Jesus #1 is great. Great art with great writing with an interesting plot that takes something that could have been played as shocking and trite and makes a very compelling first issue with characters I want to know more about and a plot I want to see where goes.
Score: 9 out of 10.
Artist and Writer: Sean Murphy
I had only the faintest idea of what Punk Rock Jesus #1 was going to be when I picked it up a couple of days ago. Oh, I knew it had something to do with a clone of Jesus and – I assumed – something to do with punk rock given the Ian Rotten type on the cover, but I didn’t really know what to make of it after that.
I was somewhere far past pleasantly surprised. This is a really great first issue and a very promising new start to Sean Murphy’s series. To begin the series we don’t yet meet the titular character, we are instead thrown into the action with a young Thomas McKael, watching the events the shape the future Irish mercenary’s life. Fast forward and we learn that a media conglomerate has obtained the rights to clone (in international waters, natch) whatever DNA is on the Shroud of Turin, believed to be that of Jesus. This, naturally, has caused a wee bit of international controversy, meaning that McKael will be acting as the hired gun for the protection of the crew. And for what reason are they trying to clone a savior? Why, for reality television of course! It’s a premise that sounds absurd until you think about and say, ‘Yeah, yeah, I could see them doing that if they could.’ We also meet the other members of the J2 crew, each of whom has a distinct personality and seem to have well-thought out stories and motivations.
Punk Rock Jesus is a really text heavy book. Lots of talking, but there’s a lot of talking to be done on the topic and Murphy never lets the whole thing get too heavy while still acknowledging that he’s dealing with pretty tricky material. It’s a testament to Murphy’s writing and art (which is fantastic, black and white, all inks and shadows, especially McKael who stands as a cross-hatched tower standing in the middle of any negative space) that I could tell you everything that happens in the issue and I would still tell you to read it and expect that you would enjoy it. Oh, and there’s a bit of a surprise at the end. And then another surprise after the surprise at the end that, which changed the tone of the whole thing. I especially appreciated that, even though this is a first issue, that Murphy still managed to introduce the plot and get it moving. This is great stuff, folks. The more I think about it, the more I enjoyed it.
Score: 9 out 10.