Boom! Studios 2017
Written by Jeff Loveness
Illustrated by Jakub Rebelka
Lettered by Colin Bell
Emmy and WGA Award-nominated writer Jeff Loveness (Marvel’s Nova) presents an exploration of the classical biblical character, perfect for fans of Preacher and The Goddamned. Judas Iscariot journeys through life and death, grappling with his place in “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” and how much of his part was preordained. In a religion built on redemption and forgiveness, one man had to sacrifice himself for everyone…and it wasn’t Jesus.
I’ll admit I wasn’t sure what kind of story this was going to be. I admit that being Jewish I only know the characters by name and reputation not the story that surrounds them. While that is part of why I wanted to read this the other part was hoping that Judas would have turned into Dracula and been the scourge of all evil in the world thanks to his betrayal of the man who was seen as the son of god. Either way there’s going to be more here than meets the eye and regardless if Jeff sticks closely to the bible way or just uses that as a basis for this story we’re in for a treat if this first issue is any indication.
Part of me loves the explanation that Jeff brings us for Judas’ betrayal. I also like that he isn’t afraid at all in how he’s going to be telling this story. The past, present, future you name it it’s all interspersed here so that at any given moment you are getting parts of the story that is Judas’ life. From a child of no significance to a man struggling to survive to a follower and disciple of Jesus then of course what happens after he hangs himself we see the jumble that is his life. The fact that Jeff also makes this incredibly easy to follow and that the ebb & flow of how and when we see those different parts of his life is simply impressive.
To go along with all that the characterisation here is kind of what I think many of us would consider exactly what we need to see. Yes this is all about Judas and his narration and talk about what he’s lived and died through really does focus on him and very little else. Even when we see other characters speak we’re seeing that through Judas’ eyes and interpretation so for now I find it one of the most peculiar and fascinating ways of storytelling. I don’t even mind the bible verses spattered throughout because while I have no idea what they are they represent what we’re seeing at that moment so it’s nicely handled.
Jakub’s interiors here are surprisingly nice to see, by that I mean not too heavily detailed and yet not exactly stylised so it’s this middle ground where all the imagery fits so my eyes and brains feel in sync with what I imagine it should be. I like the Judas’ robes it feels very Jewish in nature kind reminiscent of the Tallith. I think that’s important because remember there was no Catholicism until Jesus had died so before that they were all practising Jews. I like the way Jakub uses the page layouts with their angles and perspective and the strategic use of backgrounds really show off his eye for storytelling. Also the work does wonders to kind of soften and involve the reader in the story.
I will say too that I find that this isn’t preachy or full of what I consider the Churches propaganda. This is the story of a man, his life, his death and everything that made him who he is. It also just happens he’s the most famous betrayer in history. There is more to his reasons for betrayal that Jeff is bringing us and it’s the outside influence alongside a man’s own personal doubts and belief’s that allowed this betrayal to happen. Getting to see that explored feels more like a philosophical class discussion than one of religion and I cannot tell you how utterly impressed I am by that.