There is a reason the Da Vinci Code was a book first. That’s because it has a lot of big concepts and history and requires a lot of text to convey that to you. This graphic novel explores a similar set of Biblical and philosophical ideas. It also uses 20th century English writers as the heroes and occultist Alistair Crowley as the villain.
This is certainly an unusual idea, more so because it comes from Image Comics. It is also a premise that would probably work better in a different format. That isn’t to say the pictures aren’t useful but when the massive blocks of text appear the pictures degenerate into talking heads or disappear completely.
Unless you possess a wealth of knowledge of the history or theology in question you will be genuinely stumped in places. Luckily there more than a dozen pages of annotations that, whilst present to bolster the credibility of the storyline, do act as a breadcrumb trail.
The art is hard black and white, an interesting choice for the grey world of existentialism. The panels are more or less regular and there are few artistic techniques that have an impact on you. It is helpful to have illustrations when the subject turns to hidden meanings in paintings or statues, or when people’s consciousness moves forwards or backwards in time.
This isn’t something you read for entertainment. It also isn’t a hard debate on some of the more apocryphal branches of religion. As such it is hard to judge if this work is a success or not. But fair play to Harris for convincing a large publisher to print something that is the complete opposite to all their other books.
No Thumbs for content.