Bookmarks: Jesus Christ ‘punk rock’ star
Written and illustrated by Sean Murphy, “Punk Rock Jesus” is a graphic novel with a reasonably simple story. Not a retelling of the Christ story in the Bible, “Punk Rock Jesus” is a social commentary of how religion dictates the actions of an entire race. It’s easy to identify and understand, yet mind-blowing to read.
Without getting preachy Murphy creates characters that are believable and human with flaws, insecurities and doubts when the foundations of their own identities have been shaken.
“Punk Rock Jesus” tells two stories: the backstory of Thomas McKael who becomes a major character later in the novel displays the detrimental effects of religious based radicalism, the desire for redemption and the catch-22 demands of faith with organized religion that tear at McKael.
A reflection of the point of view of many people “post-religion,” McKael’s background story adds depth to the foreground story of “Punk Rock Jesus.”
The “foreground” story is a blend of science, science-fueling religion, religion being manipulated for money and their effects on the people involved. The story begins with a multi-million dollar corporation of OPHIS funding the cloning of DNA allegedly from the Shroud of Turin to manufacture the “second coming of Jesus Christ” as a plot for a reality TV show.
The new Mary is selected according to audience expectations and the DNA of the clone is also altered to aesthetically please the audience, from looking like a person actually from Jerusalem to someone “out of a children’s bible… light skin and blue eyes.” And that’s just the beginning.
The cast of characters, who at first seem predictable and archetypal, turn out to be the most human characters I’ve seen in a graphic novel in a long time. Progressing through the spectrum of human emotion, we see the literal articulation of how popular victimizes the very people we, as a religious body, idolize.
The (alleged) DNA from the Shroud of Turin develops into an angsty teenager that rebels against the limited life OPHIS has done everything to make him live. OPHIS has censored everything Chris, Jesus deux, has been taught, in regards to book learning and social exposure. Chris blows the lid off OPHIS’sw censorship militant censorship by hijacking books outside OPHIS’s education database and Thomas McKael’s punk rock vinyl collection. From his secondary education, Chris loses his religion and ironically starts a worldwide following.
Uncomfortable, disheartening, kick ass and inspiring, “Punk Rock Jesus” inspires its readers to not “give in to the opiate of the masses.” However, it’s not advocating violence, but introspection and finding your own foothold between education and religion.
Everyone should read “Punk Rock Jesus,” whether you like graphic novels or not. This one in particular is not over-done, contrived, preachy or over-reaching in any way.
It makes you think, and think hard, and not just every time you open a Bible, but every time you turn on a device of any kind, and the effect small actions have on the world around you.