Divinity in Graphic Novels
Comic books and graphic novels, much like all of literature, have touched upon every topic under the sun. The following titles showcase the inventive ways writers and artists have depicted the Divine in graphic works for adults.
Punk Rock Jesus by Sean Gordon Murphy
WWPRJD? What would Punk Rock Jesus do? In 2019, the Catholic church grants entertainment company Ophis access to the Shroud of Turin to use DNA to create a clone of Jesus for a reality TV show. Ophis controls all aspects of Chris’ creation and birth, from leading auditions for a virgin woman to bear him, to genetic modification to ensure he will be a male child with blue eyes. When he is born, the world is thrown into turmoil, with militant groups believing Chris to be an imposter and threatening his life, and others worshiping him as the Second Coming. Watched by millions of viewers, Chris experiences a series of tragedies that has him questioning that identity. This intense and dark black-and-white graphic novel tackles the power of faith and the manipulation of the masses through popular media.
Godshaper by Simon Spurrier
In 1958, electricity and technology ceased to work, and a new power took their place. Each person had their own personal god, a companion that manifests in all shapes and sizes by age three. Gods are powered by an individual’s worship, and can function as a person’s currency, power source, transport and so much more. Ennay is a shaper, born without a god, and works for food and goods by molding and reshaping the gods of others as they grow. As a nogody, it is the only service he can perform that no one else can, needed when gods gain new abilities the more power they acquire. However, when he gains a companion in the form of Bud, a god without a human, trouble follows, and Ennay’s tenuous existence is threatened by others seeking Bud’s unique power.
Pantheon: The True Story of the Egyptian Deities by Hamish Steele
Hamish Steele’s drawings in Pantheon are delightful, the colors vibrant, and telling the true story of the Egyptian deities in an irreverent, hilarious, yet informative way. Be amused when Osiris, the first pharaoh, is tricked by his brother Set to hide in a box that Set then throws into a river and crowns himself pharaoh when the throne is empty. Be informed by the engaging and gruesome two-page spread “How to Mummify Your Friends” with Anubis. Be entertained by the epic battle and feats of strength between Set and Horus, each claiming the throne of Egypt after Set killed Osiris, which forced Isis to resurrect her brother and husband Osiris for one night to sire Horus. (It’s complicated.) The Egyptian deities are just as flawed and weird as we are, and this graphic novel interprets their story in a relatable way.
The Wicked + the Divine by Kieron Gillen
Every ninety years, society experiences a dramatic upheaval known as the Recurrence, as twelve gods return to the land of the living in the bodies of young people. They live a brief life in their power and godhood, worshipped and hated, always dying two years later. Our story begins when Laura, a teenager in London, passes out at Amaterasu’s concert, so awed by her divine power. Laura is woken up after the concert by Lucifer, another of the Pantheon, and her life is changed forever. While pursuing her fandom of the Pantheon, Laura begins to suspect that she might be one of them, and is thrust deeper into a dangerous mystery of the origins of their divinity. This series is remarkable in how the existence of a variety of deities (the Morrigan, Athena, Baal, Bacchus, among others) can have a dramatic effect on our modern world.
God Country by Donny Cates
“You ask anyone in the great state of Texas, they’ll all tell you the same damn thing. Emmett Quinlan was a god.” As our story begins, a tornado is bearing down upon the Quinlan home, containing an Alzheimer’s stricken Emmett, his son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. This is no normal storm, but a demon from another world that the Quinlan family only survives when the ancient sword Valofax follows the evil into our world and is wielded by Emmett. Valofax is not only a sentient sword that removes Emmett’s Alzheimer’s as long as he wields it, but the God of Blades, simultaneously every blade that ever existed from Excalibur to Legbiter. While Valofax came to protect their world from evil, Valofax’s creator wants him back and will wage a war that will destroy all life on Earth to get it. This story is not only a tale of heroism, but a stunning exploration of family, memory and sacrifice.