Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #1 is out today, marking the launch of the second volume of this book by writer Mark Russell and artist Richard Pace, who collaborates again here with Leonard Kirk (finisher on some scenes) and Andy Troy (colorist on some scenes), joined by letterer Rob Steen.
This is essentially the second season of one of the most interesting books from publisher AHOY Comics, which initially picked up the Second Coming concept following a mutual parting of ways with DC Comics now-shuddered Vertigo imprint. For the unfamiliar, Second Coming is a satirical book that asks questions about religion, superheroics, and the nature of putting good into the world.
With Second Coming: Only Begotten Son starting today, The Beat had a chance to ask some questions about the series of Russell and Pace. Enjoy!
Second Coming: Only Begotten Son Interview
ZACK QUAINTANCE: How did having the premise of the book already established change your work on Second Coming: Only Begotten Son? Did it enable either of you to do more, or to approach the work differently?
MARK RUSSELL: It didn’t really. Not for me. Most of the stories in the second volume were stories I’d had while writing the first, but just didn’t have the space to include in the first six issues. So the second volume sort of expands upon the world and themes of the first in a pretty seamless way, I think.
RICHARD PACE: The biggest change for me is in finding the best narrative dividing line between where I push the finishes over to Leonard Kirk and Andy Troy. There are distinct changes between the ease of deciding how the divine presence or Biblical history gets handled all by me and where the world Jesus is trying to help takes over. Hopefully it’s subtle, but not too subtle.
QUAINTANCE: From the preview material, it sounds like flashbacks to Sunstar’s origin will function in the story similarly to the more ethereal heaven-set scenes in the first volume. How did you have to approach that work differently?
RUSSELL: Sunstar gets a little more fleshed out as a character in the second volume. So the second volume draws a little less from Biblical sources and more upon the common mythology of superheroes and villains. In the end, all mythologies are really the stories of dysfunctional families and the modern mythology of superheroes/villains functions much the same way.
PACE: For me, knowing Leonard and Andy would be finishing the whole issue, it was about finding ways to get that I Love Lucy feel to the storytelling. but allowing them to do what they excel at. I think My largest contributions to the story are Baby Sunstar on the cover and his mom’s hair.
QUAINTANCE: It’s probably safe to say that superhero origins are a bit more well-tread in comics than biblical stories. How did you both work to distinctly set the material in this book apart from superhero tropes?
RUSSELL: Well, I think I start by working from the same place, which is asking why we have these tropes? These common themes? What is it about these stories that’s so meaningful to us that we have to tell them over and over? And the answer is usually that it’s because they help us deal with the incompleteness of our world. That they allow us to examine the gap between the world as it is and as it should be. And what it would take for us to bridge that gap.
PACE: I’d argue this issue is more of a domestic comedy/tragedy against an apocalypse than a superhero origin, so I guess that’s how we avoided superhero tropes.
QUAINTANCE: One of my (many) favorite things about the first volume of this series was the tension inherent to the Jesus-Sunstar relationship, centered as it was in part around attitudes toward violence. Where (if at all) did you find the tension between the two characters in this new story about Sunstar’s origin and child?
PACE: I think it’s more about how the parents relate to their children. Sunstar’s parents are trying to save their child, God wanted Jesus to fix his mess.
RUSSELL: In the second volume, the tension between Christ and Sunstar lessens somewhat because, even though they’re not totally on board with the other’s worldview, they understand that there are situations in which the other’s works best. The conflict in the second volume emanates more from them both grappling with the unique mistakes of their past. The fall-out of having embraced a lifetime of violence, or in the case of Christ, a lifetime of sacrifice.
QUAINTANCE: It really feels like this is an obligatory comics interview question when talking about a new first issue, but I still have to ask — how are you both feeling about doing a volume of SECOND COMING past this one? Is that something we might eventually see?
RUSSELL: Yes. Currently, I have enough material for four volumes floating around in my head. Hopefully, we get to make them all.
PACE: I’d hope so. Mark has given me the broad strokes of upcoming stories and I’m excited to see how I can best execute them, particularly with some of the stuff I know Leonard and Andy will end up finishing.