Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Comics Review: "AMERICAN JESUS Vol. 2: The New Messiah" - Alabarla!


STORY: Mark Millar
ART: Peter Gross
COLORS: Jeanne McGee
LETTERS: Cory Petit
EDITOR: Rachel Fulton
ISBN: 978-1-5343-0871-8; paperback (May 26, 2020)
96pp, Color, $9.99 U.S.

Rated M / Mature

American Jesus created by Mark Millar and Peter Gross

American Jesus is a comic book series created by writer Mark Millar and Peter Gross that is being published as three comic book miniseries.  American Jesus began life as Chosen, a three-issue miniseries by Millar and Gross, that was published by Dark Horse Comics in 2004.

Image Comics published the second series, American Jesus: The New Messiah #1-3 (cover dated:  December 2019 to February 2020).  Image later collected the second series in trade paperback form as American Jesus, Vol. 2: The New Messiah.

The New Messiah opens in 1970s New York City.  It introduces 14-year-old Luciana Cortez, who has just discovered that she is pregnant – a pregnant teen virgin!  According to the man that appears in her dreams, her child is the Messiah.  Now, Luciana and her 16-year-old boyfriend, Eddie Jones, must flee for their lives as the forces of Satan close in to destroy them.

Eighteen years later, their daughter, rebellious Catalina, is a non-believer, and she thinks that her parents have been brainwashed by the cultists who guard her and her parents in a compound … in Waco, Texas.  Yet there is bloodshed a plenty ahead for young Catalina, and she will be forced to stop refusing to accept her destiny as the savior of mankind.

THE LOWDOWN:  Netflix/Millarworld sent me a PDF review copy of American Jesus, Vol. 2, and this is the first time I have read the story.  I didn't read The New Messiah upon its initial release because at the time I had not read American Jesus, Vol. 1.

Sixteen years after they introduced Chosen and its star, Jodie Christianson, Mark Millar and Peter Gross returned with The New Messiah.  Whereas the first volume of American Jesus was something of a horror comedy – droll, witty, and satirical on top of the inherent creepiness, the second volume of American Jesus is a horror-fantasy infused with dramatic aspects.  Darker in tone and more thoughtful, it is a different book for a different “chosen.”

The story of Luciana Cortez and Eddie Jones is essentially a teen romantic drama, although their situation gives it elements of a supernatural teen drama.  Before long, after Catalina is born and approaches adult hood, teen drama is in service of the supernatural situation.  The New Messiah might end as a suspense thriller filled with sequences of edgy action and violence, but on the way, the narrative dances around  from one genre to the next.  Like the first series, The New Messiah challenges our expectations and often trashes them.

It is a talent of Mark Millar to blend genres and sub-genres like the Dust Brothers on the Beastie Boys' album, Paul's Boutique (1989).  Peter Gross conveys the action, drama, and nuances with a deft touch that only the best of veteran comic book artists have.  Gross draws the readers deep into this tale, and Jeanne McGee's colors warm the storytelling space with rich moods and atmosphere.  Letterer Cory Petit keeps the story even as it flies through its surprises and shocking reveals.

Millar and Gross display an even more confident hand at storytelling in American Jesus Vol. 2 than they did in American Jesus Vol. 1, which was a self-assured work.  We don't know how they'll top what they have done so far, but we can be confident that they will.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Mark Millar's comic books will want to read American Jesus.

[This volume includes “The Second Coming of Millar and Gross: Sixteen Years Later,” a conversation between Millar and Gross.]


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


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