Second Coming is a controversial book from Mark Russell and Richard Pace and published by Ahoy Comics after DC passed on it due to disputed rights and edits. I got a copy of the first TPB as a free promo through my comic book guy so I got a chance to read the first few issues all at once. I was initially skeptical, hearing only the controversy and people’s concerns about the book but as usual, not everything is as it appears. The book is irreverent but I didn’t find it disrespectful of faith itself. It is more of a critique of man’s flawed understanding of it, and our skewed interpretation of the ideals and religions we hold dear. It is shocking at times. It is funny, heartbreaking, and blasphemous if you take things too seriously. I think we take things too seriously sometimes and there’s no sin in taking a long look at how we’ve let that effect us. After all, if we are the image of the creator, doesn’t that mean it would also have a sense of humor just as twisted as ours?
The story is, quite literally, about the second coming of Jesus Christ. He comes to Earth in the present, where super heroes and super villains are real. He’s sent down by God for a little ‘toughening up’, by which he means having the world’s most powerful super hero look after the son of God and teach him about the world. Much like The Boys, heroes in the world of Second Coming are not perfect examples of moral good and light. Unlike Homelander, though, Sunstar is more of a careless hero who makes a series of mistakes that get innocent people hurt and throw his life into a tailspin. The story is as much about Jesus helping Sunstar as the other way around.
Overall, the redemption arc of Sunstar, and sort of coming of age of Jesus made for a good story. Some of the elements were a little overused, but there was enough of the larger story that it wasn’t saturated with the standard poking fun at Christianity. Other movies and stories have done it before, and some of them have done it much better. The core of it was a good read though. You get the sense that Mark isn’t trying to criticize Christianity itself, but our understanding of stories in the Bible more than anything else. He also takes some jabs at a culture that might exist if super heroes were real, and in a way the culture that does exist even though they’re not. The story asks some good questions, and tries to offer good answers as to why we are the way we are. Ultimately it does what I like to see in a story, and ends on a positive note. Too often these stories go for the sense that humans are just awful, irredeemable creatures. Second Coming presents us as flawed and struggling, but really at our center, decent people.
Richard Pace’s art in the book is great. Easy to follow action and movement, and panels free of extraneous clutter make it a good book to flip through for the art as much as the story. I loved his character design, and the notes in the back of the TPB give you some insight into his through process for that. I also liked that the style and coloring changes slightly when we’re going between modern Earth and the past, or Heaven. It makes it easy to place yourself in the story as a natural transition from one time and place to another. Colors by Andy Troy (and Pace I’m guessing) help bring that art to life and complete the book very well.
It’s a good read and I’d recommend it to anyone who may be interested, or curious about what all the fuss was over. I get that it won’t be for everyone, I’m just sad that some people felt the need to try and suppress it. If the Creator gave us joy, laughter, and humor, one would think he or she would be an expert at those things. If we can’t laugh at the things we take most seriously then maybe we’re just a bit too invested in them to begin with and we may not be looking at them with fully open eyes.