Second Coming #2
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Richard Pace
Inker: Leonard Kirk (Earth pages)
Colorist: Andy Troy (Earth pages)
Letters: Rob Steen
What was originally supposed to be a Vertigo title has now landed at Ahoy Comics, a company that seems to have a keen eye for outstanding material. Second Coming is about The Son of God being thrust into the care of Sunstar (a Superman-like figure). God seems to be upset that Jesus is a little soft and needed to learn from a “real man.” The first issue was a great set up of this premise, but it is here we get to learn a little more about Sunstar and how he might not be the perfect specimen God thinks.
The story opens with Sunstar taking down a gang of robots. Unfortunately, he learns that they were not robots but humans wearing mech suits. Sunstar has trouble dealing with the idea that he murdered humans and there is even a scene with a super hero group therapy session. To make matters worse his partner, Sheila, can’t get pregnant and they have been refused as adoption candidates based on Sunstar’s super heroics. God invites him to heaven and explains how pointless it is to worry about humanity and that they are beyond saving. When Sunstar returns to Earth he takes his frustration out on a stalker that has been bothering Sheila. Jesus tries to be the guiding voice but it falls mostly on deaf ears.
This comic was immediately decried as offensive and insensitive. I was brought up in the faith and personally see this comic as fairly thoughtful and intelligent. Russell has no problem making God lazy and self centered, but backs this up with evidence from the Bible itself. Jesus on the other hand is elevated and shown as being a truly compassionate character. Every word that he says is important and should be listened to, but like real life we tend to ignore this guidance. We get two lessons one from God and another from Jesus. The way both these stories play off each other and are both told to the same person, Sunstar, clearly shows the reader which is the right path to follow. Beyond that there is the traditional Mark Russell humour that makes his writing such a joy to read. The pages in heaven have some fun nods to former fast food chains that now live out their lives in heaven’s food court, for example. This balance of humour with heavier darker moments makes this comic something worth remembering and thinking about. It reminds me of his work on The Flintstones (a book everyone should read and not pass up).
Richard Pace’s art is really interesting here. On Earth everything is really clean and inked and colored by a different team. In heaven Pace does it all and things are a little rougher and have a dream-like quality to them. Because the pencils are consistent throughout the book is still cohesive and just lends to the unworldliness of heaven. Pace is an incredible artist and an industry veteran. His work here is some of his best yet, and you can tell how much he loves working on this book on every panel.