It’s a slow week in comics people actually want to buy, so I’m going to keep on with reviewing Punk Rock Jesus issue by issue until this book becomes the sleeper hit of the year. A tough challenge for a black and white book, but with all the big DC monthly eye-on-the-trade books I’ve reviewed that read exactly like eye-on-the-trade books, it’s nice to see their logo on a product with a genuine story that’s also well told.
I’ve praised the book’s pacing in the last three issues, with Sean Murphy knowing when to speed up time and where exactly to slow down on specific moments. There’s some more speeding up of time in issue #4. A plot twist that happened between issues is brought to a head within the first seven pages. By the tenth, the story finally has a truly loathsome adversary, a character who was almost in the sidelines but will now aggravate you as a reader because the villain is so non-stereotypical, the full complicity in this issue’s events is never fully confessed in his mannerisms or his words. You’ll start begging for any kind of show down, because you actually care about both protagonist and antagonist without any kind of pinup pages or other contrivances.
After a montage of supporting characters seeding rebellion, we finally get such a confrontation at precisely the book’s halfway point. Aside from a broadcast rant that feels it would have been cut off quickly (then again, reality TV both in this book and in real life doesn’t seem to know when to stop the cameras), the unveiling of Punk Rock Jesus feels right and rewarding. I’m left only to guess at what happens next because most my expectations of this issue (which were more like guesses to begin with) were really scattered before the book was a third-way done.
There’s a lot in here to irritate people with particular religious beliefs (if they haven’t avoided the book anyway), but this is deeper than an anti-religious tract, and I have a feeling Sean Murphy isn’t done playing with all the angles this story could delve into, mystical, scientific, political or otherwise. With two issues left, there’s still time for everyone to be surprised.