Review: ‘Second Coming: Only Begotten Son’ #2 Offers Up Satire As Well As Plays To Our Empathy
by Olly MacNamee
Christ goes on a day trip to a Christian theme park. And it’s exactly as crass and commercial how you’d expect it to be. Mark Russell, Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk deliver another satirical swipe at the commodification of Christianity, but with a poignant message too.
Television evangelists. A scourge of the Earth and thankfully one American export that never quite made it over here to the United Kingdom. But, as a continuing phenomenon in America, it makes sense of Mark Russell, Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk to put it under the microscope in Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2. A book that’s as much a modern take on the teachings of Christ as it is a satire on the corruption of said teachings by corrupt institutions and individuals.
Just as the pilgrims on the trail to Canterbury Cathedral would have been easy rubes upon which to foist false Christian memorabilia and plagiarised papal pardons, so too do contemporary citizens fall for the same con. In this case Blessing Blankets and Survival Beans. The latter being a savagely funny and ironic rebranding of another American favourite that didn’t make it over here, thankfully. Russell even has time to smuggle in a Flintstones’ Eater egg, which you don’t need to be too observant to find. Here used as a great punchline. Although, as a teacher myself, I still cannot fathom how Creationism could be taught in any US school. Nonetheless, there is a lot to satirise about Christianity and its commodification, and Russell proves once again, he’s the right man for the job.
This satirical steak carries over into the growing cast of scoundrels filling this book. Russell does a mighty find line in knowingly bad villains. You only need to witness The Scrambler in his DC Comics’ Wonder Twins series as evidence of this talent, but you’ll also enjoy the introduction Christway CEO, Freddy Junior. Lex Luthor if imagined by the producers of Riverdale.
But, there is a downside to all this fun. Just as in real life, real people’s lives are commodified rather than comforted by the likes of the fictitious Christway. In the more poignant moments – such as when a grieving man is considering suicide, but tries to reach out to Christway for support – the satire gives way to the emotional impact of a man at the end of his tethering being offered counselling at a price. Sometimes it is funny because it’s true, to paraphrase the great philosopher of our time, Homer Simpson. But other times the laughter makes way for a powerful point the Russell is just as adept at including as he is the laughs. What’s more, he even manages to leave the reader with hope in their heart with a very upbeat ending. It’s an emotionally dependent issue.
And While Richard Pace is the main artist, he once again shares inking duties with Leonard Kirk. The division of labour is similar to previous issues with Pace taking up the scenes involving Christ and his visit to the Christway theme park, while Leonard focusses mainly on the sub-plot to this issue that inevitably makes its way to Jesus’ attention. It’s a great partnership that offers up two very contrasting styles, but with Pace in charge of all this issue breakdowns, there is a consistency to it too.
Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2 is out now from AHOY Comics