Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Script & art: Jack T Chick LLC

Generally speaking, comics produced by religious or educational organisations get a pretty bad rap. Well, they usually do with me, anyway. To mis-quote Jerry Seinfeld, they don't offend me as a Christian, they offend me as a comic-reader.

I well remember once picking-up a creationist comic-book, only to find that the entire strip inside consisted of two people talking about the subject that it was conveying. Nice artwork. Not much story.

Chicks Publications' Here He Comes! #25 (that's the only title on it) held my attention throughout.

It's a tract that I found years ago sitting by a bus stop in Wellesley Street, Auckland. I didn't know whether it had been thrown away, or left there intentionally, and almost immediately I felt sorry to have missed the preceding 24 issues. (like all shrewd comic-publishers, they had included a footnote-box referring me back to the previous one)

Alas, my merriment was because I was laughing at it.

I found the whole thing to be such a graphically over-the-top depiction of the Book Of Revelation, that it was riveting. I'd enjoyed it, yes, but for the wrong reasons. Today I've calmed down a bit, and am a little more respectful.

To be clear - this post is not a discussion of the opinions expressed in this issue, but purely a review of its merits as a comic. I regularly review comics on this blog, and this is a comic, so they must have got something right there.

Damien is a new Christian, but he suffers a horrific nightmare about the end of the world. Consistent with the creationist comic I mentioned above, his friend Bob takes him through the events that he believes will all take place in the last days.

There are almost non-stop references to Bible-quotes in the footnote-boxes throughout, and this interpretation not only takes it quite literally, but also chillingly portrays the final book of the Bible taking place in contemporary society. The depiction of the Pope as the false prophet makes an intriguing link into the familiar real world.

In seeking to appeal to comicbook readers, there's disturbing violence on display throughout. There are also unexpected moments of sick humour, which I found odd, because tracts usually treat this stuff so seriously.

That's The Matrix's Agent Smith, isn't it?

At the end we snap back to the present with Damien realising that the approach of the apocalypse that Bob has just conveyed to him is the reason why the gospel must be preached.

Then, in the final panel, Bob actually turns to the reader, and delivers the following chilling warning:

Reader, if you reject Jesus and miss the Rapture, you will probably take the mark of the Beast to survive and be cast into the lake of fire. THIS IS NO JOKE! This may be your last chance."

I don't know whether the preceding 24 issues went through the rest of the Bible or what, but today I look at this comic and see it with two hurdles to overcome:

1. It's presented within the context of a tract, which alone makes it tremendously hard to take seriously, and

2. There's little room for characterisation, which automatically makes such characterisation as there is appear simplistic, and therefore unintentionally funny.

But none the less, with 21 (small) pages of great black-and-white artwork, this must be the most readable Bible tract I've ever seen.

Back in the days when I found this, I had often come across other, more text-based, Bible tracts, and regularly redeployed them in a particular nightclub toilet. What else was I going to do with them?

This one I kept.

Copy of the tract I read here.

(Both comic panels in this post are copyright Chick Publications 2003 and the images have been cited according to 'Fair Use' laws.)

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