Ahoy Comics will step in to publish Second Coming, the satirical series that depicts Jesus Christ returning in modern times as a superhero-in-training. The spoof series from writer Mark Russell and artist Richard Pace was dropped from the March release schedule of Warner-owned DC Comics after its announced premise sparked online protest, pundit fury, and a major CitizenGo petition effort.
The series had been set-up at DC’s Vertigo imprint as a creator-owned project so the property reverted to Russell and Pace when they and DC amicably agreed that the series might be suited to a less-corporate outlet. Ahoy will launch the creator-owned series on July 10 with the first of a six-issue story arc. Award-winning artist Amanda Conner will handle the covers.
Official synopsis: “God commands Earth’s mightiest superhero, Sunstar, to accept Jesus Christ as his roommate and teach him how to use His power in a more powerful way. Jesus, shocked at the way humans have twisted his message over two millennia, vows to straighten it out.”
Russell has delved into religious themes before as the author of God Is Disappointed in You and its follow-up Apocrypha Now, both illustrated by Shannon Wheeler and published by Top Shelf Productions. He describes Second Coming as a fractured mirror he’s holding up to modern religiosity and superhero tropes.
“Having grown up in church, the teachings of Christ seemed like a good jumping off point to imagine other ways of approaching the world, and how those teachings have been twisted to serve the very institutions they were supposed to undermine,” Russell said. “I wanted to make Second Coming to re-examine the embedded assumption in all our superhero comics, laws, and institutions of civilization that physical force is the only thing that changes the world. That maybe the good guys are not good simply because they’re better at violence than the bad guys, but maybe because they can imagine ways for people to get along other than bribery and revenge.”
The Syracuse-based upstart Ahoy Comics launched last fall with four magazine format collections of comics, poetry, prose, and cartoons from more than 70 artists and writers. The editor-in-chief is Tom Peyer, one of the original editors for Vertigo’s landmark creation at DC Comics under Karen Berger’s leadership.
“We understand that the publication of Second Coming will get a strong reaction and we support Mark and Richard’s satiric vision,” Peyer said. “There are going to be people who don’t want to read Second Coming, and that’s fine. It’s not for everyone. But I don’t think it should be controversial to maintain that the rest of us have every right to enjoy it.”
Jesus Christ is in-demand as a comic book character these days. A far darker interpretation of Christ is presented in the upcoming Image Comics release Jesusfreak, which envisions the central figure in Christianity as a stone-cold killer in the 1st Century who decapitates his foes with whirling swordplay.