DC Comics and their rebranded Vertigo Comics imprint plans to lock Jesus up in their new series Second Coming by writer Mark Russell and artist Richard Pace.
Mark Russell described his plans for the upcoming series in an interview with Bleeding Cool where he notes God has locked up Jesus.
“An all-powerful superhero, named Sun-Man, has to share a two bedroom apartment with Jesus Christ. The conceit is that God was so upset with Jesus’s performance the first time he came to Earth, since he was arrested so soon and crucified shortly after, that he has kept him locked-up since then.”
Russell goes on to add that God wants Jesus to be more like Sun-Man.
“God then sees this superhero on Earth a few thousand years later and says “that’s what I wanted for you!” He sends Jesus down to learn from this superhero and they end up learning from each other. They learn the limitations of each other’s approach to the world and its problems.”
However, Russell does indicate that Jesus might be the one doing more of the teaching.
“Sun-Man has to deal with things like his grandmother succumbing to dementia or that he can’t adopt, because he’s technically not a human being, and his wife wants a baby. These are the sorts of problems that superpowers are utterly helpless against. Jesus brings this very different view on how power can be used.”
While Russell doesn’t out and out say how Jesus will help Sun-Man, he does insinuate that Jesus will bring “empathy, understanding, and generosity.”
But Jesus won’t just be bringing the empathy, understanding, and generosity, he will apparently be outraged by modern Christianity.
Russell reveals, “[Second Coming] is about Jesus coming down and being appalled by what he sees has been done in his name by Christianity in the last two thousand years.”
Not only will Jesus be appalled by modern Christianity, but he won’t be omniscient in Russell’s series. The Holy Trinity also appears to be nonexistent as God and Jesus are not one in the same with God actively punishing Jesus.
“God was so upset with the fact that he got crucified the last time that he wouldn’t even let him look through the celestial keyhole at Earth to keep up.
He still gets to talk to people when they come to Heaven so he has a rough idea of what’s going on down there. He doesn’t know how sideways things have gone until he’s come down to Earth and sees it for himself.”
Russell’s depiction of Jesus and how he will interact with the world appears to stem from his own personal views of Christianity.
“I wrote two books about the Bible, God is Disappointed in Youand Apocraphya Now. I learned how much we really misunderstood the teachings of the Bible and of Christ. The Christian religion doesn’t really base itself on what he taught, particularly in the modern Evangelical megachurches.”
This isn’t the first time Russell has courted controversy when it comes to the comic books he writes. Back in 2017, Russell made the iconic Hanna-Barbera character, Snagglepuss, gay.
Russell also turned The Flinstones comic into a political piece where he critiques modern society and culture through the lens of The Flintstones. He specifically targets the 1%. He told NPR, “The Flintstones is kind of the perfect platform for me to write my feelings about the fundamental errors of civilization.”
In fact, Russell told The Hollywood Reporter that using Snagglepuss or The Flintstones “gives [him] the license to say all these things and people don’t really take it that personally. It’s hard to get offended at something a big pink lion is saying and not feel silly about yourself.”
Snagglepuss, The Flintstones, and Second Coming won’t be the last comics where Russell plans to use the characters to preach his own worldview. In the interview with Bleeding Cool, Russell admits he plans on doing it to the Lone Ranger as well.
“It’s about this grand metaphor to what’s happened in American history. The ranch, and the cotton plantation, are the sorry template around which we’ve built our civilization. The idea is that the cotton plantation is a place where you have all the brown people working in the fields and the kitchens, the poor white men with guns, the women in the drawing room, making doilies or whatever, and there’s just a few rich white guys on the patio ruling it all, sipping their mint juleps.
This has become the de facto vision for America that many Conservative voters have. I believe it all began with the idea of the ranch, to them that’s “the good old days.” The Lone Ranger and Tonto have to disrupt the idea to plantationize the Panhandle.”
Russell goes on to describe that the Lone Ranger will actively work against the law and ranchers using guerrilla warfare tactics.
“The ranchers, who are carving up the land with barbed wire, have law on their side so someone needs to stand-up against them in favor of justice. He and Tonto are trying to do what they can to destroy the ranchers plans to takeover the Panhandle using guerilla warfare tactics.”
Russell’s Second Coming is planned for six issues, but Russell hopes that the series will garner enough attention to be turned into an ongoing series. The first issue is expected to come out on March 6, 2019. Russell’s run on Lone Ranger will see its fourth issue debut on January 16th.
What do you make of Mark Russell’s comments? Do you think his Second Coming book will be anti-Christian? Do you think his style of putting his own political viewpoints onto iconic characters is a problem in the comic industry? Or do you think he’s just making interesting satire pieces about how he sees the world?