Sex and death.

Two of the driving principles for humanity. Creation and destruction, after a fashion. The latter leads to a desire to leave a legacy, something to continue on, which often takes the form of offspring. Sometimes they get blurred. Mixed together. A sexy death. Decadence. Weird how that works out. A master of the sexy death is Clive Barker.

It’s part of the allure of his work. There’s something lurid about it. The mixture of pleasure and pain in something like The Hellbound Heart. Like breaking a taboo. Or writing an unexpected sequel to the bestselling book of all time.

Now… There’s the small matter of the apocalypse.”

Clive Barker’s Next Testament, by Barker, Mark Alan Miller, Haemi Jang, Vladimir Popov, and Steve Wands, is a horror tale that seeks to reconcile the difference between the God of the Old Testament and the New. And write a new chapter for humanity.

We’re introduced to Wick, who calls himself the Father of Colours and claims to be God. The Old Testament God, mind you. All the wrath and sicking bears on disobedient children. A capricious god that apparently had fun messing with Job. The story presents that the New Testament God and Jesus were really Wick’s siblings, giving a new idea to the Holy Trinity, and they locked him away 2000 years ago.

It’s a simple way to explain the differences in action between a vengeful and a loving god presented in the separate books of the Bible and it sets up a nightmare for humanity when the vengeful god rears his head again. Although being a Barker idea, there’s a hedonistic bent in this god. As he travels across the world seeing what his creations have been up to while he was imprisoned.

OH… …MY… …GOD!”

Haemi Jang has an interesting style. Faces that are just slightly unusual, evoking a kind of uncanny valley. It reminds me a bit of Junji Ito’s work, though not nearly as exaggerated. That unsettling feeling elevates the horror. It also makes you wonder about the secondary quest storyline of the couple trying to travel across America to solve the mystery of Wick’s existence.

Clive Barker's Next Testament

Jang and Vladimir Popov share colouring duties over the course of the series. Jang colours herself in the opening four chapters and finale, while Popov handles the middle seven. There’s not really a huge difference between the two, with Popov seemingly following the colour palette lain out by Jang earlier. Both choosing a rather muted earth tone palette for most of the backgrounds and characters, allowing for a much greater contrast against Wick’s appearance. It has the effect of the god almost sucking the colour out of the world.

This extends also to Steve Wands’ letters. He uses a unique, shifting coloured word balloon for Wick that helps make his dialogue feel more otherworldly. Wick’s entire design from appearance through to dialogue is like a technicolor nightmare.

…a dream can change everything”

Through the story there’s an underlying theme of death and rebirth. Whether through cataclysm or through love. Clive Barker’s Next Testament by Barker, Miller, Jang, Popov, and Wands is a sometimes gory, sometimes frightening, but always compelling bit of storytelling. The artwork is gorgeous and the plays with mythology and religion are fascinating.


Classic Comic Compendium: Clive Barker’s Next Testament

Clive Barker’s Next Testament
Writers: Clive Barker & Mark Alan Miller
Artist: Haemi Jang
Colourists: Haemi Jang & Vladimir Popov
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: May 29 2013 – August 13 2014 (original issues)
Available collected in Clive Barker’s Next Testament – Volumes 1 – 3 and Clive Barker’s Next Testament Omnibus Edition

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!