Jesusfreak by Joe Casey and Benjamin Marra is an original hardcover graphic novel coming out from Image on March 20th, and it’s just received what could be either a massive boost in awareness…or a huge boost for a campaign to prevent the book’s publication.
This morning on Fox & Friends, CBN commentator David Brody alerted viewers to the existence of the comic – which presents a view of the historical Jesus as more of an action hero, who kills when he has to, a view Broday compared to other blasphemous portrayels. The CBN stands for the Christian Broadcasting Network a network founded by televangelist Pat Robertson which frequently comes out against such things as the War on Christmas, the lack of school prayer and other Christian identified issues.
Talking to @ainsleyearhardt today about the new comic book that depicts Jesus as a killer. “The good news here is that this is fiction… the nonfiction version is actually bloody as well but it’s bloody on the cross for Jesus who died for all of us… paid for our sins”@CBNNews pic.twitter.com/wlVCawRliN
— David Brody (@DavidBrodyCBN) March 6, 2019
“Its one of these crazy comic books and kids are going to read it, and that’s the disturbing part,” Brody told host Ainsley Earhardt. “Jesus is a super but not THIS superhero.”
Somewhat bafflingly, he added “The good news is that this is fiction, can you imagine if it was non-fiction” in which case it would have been….true?
Anyway, he went on to say that the non-fiction Jesus was bloody as well but “it’s bloody on the cross for Jesus who died for all of us.
“He’s not a killer, he’s a savior.”
The segment was the most prominent attack yet on Jesusfreak, which is already the target of a petition to stop its publication similar to the one that brought down Vertigo’s title Second Coming recently. That comic also dealt with Jesus, but in a much less obviously transgressive way as it’s about Jesus returning to earth and being disappointed by what he finds. While the subject doesn’t sound overtly offensive, after online outcry from religious groups – and attacks on Fox News. DC cancelled the book and gave the rights back to writer Mark Russell.
Jesusfreak is being taregtted by similar group. Writer Joe Casey (Officer Downe, Sex) and artist Benjamin Marra (Night Business) have a reputation for violent, action oriented comics, and this seems to be firmly in that genre. In a promo for the book Casey explained the historical context for their approach.
“All Marra and I did was construct a character that contained, what we hoped, was some substantial measure of historical accuracy in order to provide a level of authenticity to the story we wanted to tell,” Casey says. “Our character is on a particularly existential journey. It’s a search for self. He doesn’t know what he is yet. But he’s learning. Over the course of the story, he has to come to terms with forces that are greater than he is, both from within and without.”
“Violence—as depicted in most genre fiction—is usually meant to be symbolic of a deeper thematic struggle occurring within the story. In our book, it’s no different. In a visual medium like comic books, you want to convey conflict in as visceral a way as possible. The so-called ‘historical Jesus’ certainly would’ve lived a life of conflict, preaching certain beliefs at a time when doing so would’ve gotten you killed. The fact that Jesusfreak presents that character’s journey in such an obvious genre setting meant showing a level of violence that we felt was true to both the genre and the character.”
Asked for comment on the current kerfuffle Casey responded “Read the book.”
An Image Comics spokesperson’s only comment was “The book speaks for itself.”
At least one fan of the book captured some impressive Chyron action in the segment.
— COM1CBOOK (@COM1CBOOK) March 6, 2019
You can watch the F&F segment in question at this link, ot at about 22 minutes in on the below.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.