No Second Coming for DC/Vertigo
In the midst of a controversy surrounding a satirical comic book that depicts the second coming of Jesus Christ, DC cancelled orders of the book.
The move has prompted the comic’s creators to ask for the rights back, and the title may be resurrected elsewhere.
Second Coming was due to be published in March through Vertigo, a DC imprint. The comic features a storyline where Jesus returns and is dismayed at the state of the religion devoted to him as his own. The series looked set to comment on contemporary Christian culture, with an issue where Jesus did not recognise an image of himself at a megachurch.
It also satirises superhero comics, featuring a Superman analogue named the Sun-Man, who Jesus moves in with.
The series was written by Mark Russell and pencilled by Richard Pace, with cover art by Amanda Conner.
A CitizenGo petition for DC to not publish the comic reached 230,000 signatures. The publisher cancelled orders for March, but had plans to release the book at an undetermined future date, which led to the creators balking.
Russell and Pace are now seeking a new publisher and do not blame DC/Vertigo.
The: DC/Vertigo’s cancellation of the orders for Second Coming, just so you know, DC did not do anything untoward to me. I asked for the rights back and they gracefully agreed. They’ve been a pleasure to work with and it will still be released, albeit with a different publisher.
— Mark Russell (@Manruss) February 13, 2019
The petition’s authors argued that the series’ premise was “blasphemous.” Its authors had never read the comic, which is unreleased.
“Can you imagine the media and political uproar if DC Comics was altering and poking fun at the story of Muhammad… or Buddha?” its authors wrote.
In response, American Christian website Relevant argued that the petition verged on hypocrisy.
“If a satirical comic book series about another religious figure was pre-emptively canceled over backlash, the likely story would have been one about “PC culture” run amock and how “SJWs” these days just don’t understand the First Amendment and the same old handwringing about snowflake millennials that has now become a tired cliché. It’s very easy to tell people offended by something that doesn’t offend you to just “change the channel” or “let the free market do its work.” But if you suddenly start fretting about being offended as soon as the shoe is on the other foot, don’t be surprised if you’re accused of hypocrisy.”
Second Coming would not have been the first to feature Jesus published by DC. Another Vertigo title, Punk Rock Jesus was written and drawn by Shawn Murphy. It featured a story where a clone of Jesus rebels after being placed under constant scrutiny and pressure, snapping and becoming a punk rocker. Despite its premise, it largely sailed under the radar, garnering little public outrage.
Other Vertigo comics that dealt with Christianity as a central theme include Stephen T Seagle’s American Virgin and the Preacher series.
In 1999, comic book creator and filmmaker Kevin Smith courted controversy with his satirical film Dogma. Despite condemnation from the Catholic League and protests outside cinemas showing the film, the Catholic Church never issued an official condemnation.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor