Scout Comics Modernizes the Passion Play with CRUCIFIED

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Crucified 1 from Scout Comics

There have been many times I've been tempted to write a modern take on the life of Jesus Nazareth. What's stopped me isn't the sheer audacity of the idea but rather the complexity of the world-building that would ensue from not having had that two-thousand-year-old touchstone upon which to hinge history. What year would it be, and what would the calendar be based on? Would the founding of America be much different if it were not for the search for religious freedoms?

Rather than overthink such things, Writer Sheldon Allen takes a different tact, presenting his Christ as more of a Second Coming. The setting is a future so near as to be indistinguishable from the present. The setting in Los Angeles is one of a race riot escalated to the status of war zone, where the Hispanics and Blacks have turned on one another, with the whites seemingly on the sidelines. That's a big cringy, but truly, Mr. Allen, there was no winning for losing with whomever you chose to represent opposing sides. The violence escalates to the point where the mayor makes a desperate call to a local religious leader who calls himself The Christ, who has been amassing a following. The Christ agrees to help, and walks the streets to a press conference, people congregating about him more and more as he nears his destination. And with one word, he ends the storm -- that's two words fewer than Jesus used to calm the seas, so he must have been practicing.

Guns are put down, and life returns to normal. But not everyone is happy. There is an organization out there that needed the violence to continue longer, had invested in that happening, and now is left holding the bag. Their solution is to take out a contract with one of the world's best hit men to take out this "Christ."

As that plan is put into motion, we learn that even this Christ has a Judas, a money-man who is running his own grift for gaining access to the otherwise non-profit and charitable Christ; and we also meet a follower who's just as incorruptable as he claims to be.

 

Allen has a decent story to tell here, and the fact that it is not a direct parallel to the Gospel makes for interesting plotlines. From an art standpoint, Armin Ozdic's pencils are decent if not overly detailed -- a lot of the panels seem to go flat, but that's due moer to the color palette and application than to the linework itself. I do like the design work, which shows The Christ in a t-shirt sporting a crucifix made out of a UPC barcode. (For the conspiracy-minded, the UPC code is often seen as a symbol of antiChrist, as the start, stop, and divisor lines are representations of the number 6.)

As to production quality, the pages are slick, and the cover is heavy stock. Scout Comics provides 30 pages of story here for a cover price of $3.99, making it a good bet for people wanting to try something new.

Other than a scene of, maybe, demonic possession, there is little to indicate there is any supernatural activity in CRUCIFIED. But there's enough political and social intrigue to merit a revisitation to this series when the second issue hits the stands.

 

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0