It’s easy to pigeonhole an established writer’s new works. This is Garth Ennis’ zombie book; this is Garth Ennis on sex, on consumerism, on superheroes, etc. You could say this is his take on religion but that would be an unjust simplification. Can the man who wrote a nine volume epic about religion really have more to say? As an Irishman he probably does have a lot to say about religion and no qualms about shouting it from the rooftops. With his uncanny skill however this is a complex, multilayered work that you can’t just typecast.
Ennis uses all of his tools such as humour, horror, irony and originality with sublime effect to make us look, really look, at religion and how we perceive it. Rather than the snap judgement that most people exhibit when discussing belief this work slowly peels away the arguments that we have all heard before and lets us see what lies beneath. Religion, like most weapons, is neutral and is only as good or ill as the hand that wields it. All this complex theology is seamlessly interwoven into a gripping tale with the anti-Christ as the hero and featuring an Australian pope, a black Jesus and a talking rabbit. There is even time for a touching love-story.
The art by long term collaborator Jacen Burrows is superb with his depictions of hell making him a natural choice for the later book Crossed. All the characters are distinct and well defined and his use of colours is superb. He also draws the most realistic rabbits I have ever seen. Disney is clearly missing a notable talent here. As an Ennis work there is plenty of sex, violence and gore and he manages to push the envelope just a little bit more each time so I wouldn’t read this on the bus or take it to Sunday School.
This is an excellent work that unlike many official pieces of devout literature seems to make a lot more sense and contains much more of a humanistic and compassionate view of what religion could and should mean to us. An Almighty Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Chronicles of Wormwood: The Last Enemy – Garth Ennis