Jesus Christ: Super...Hero?

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Second Coming

As the 1980s were drawing to a close, DC Comics mature imprint, Vertigo, had a series called SWAMP THING. Rick Veitch was writing it, and his story arc had the plant elemental on a journey backward through time, having him wind up in historically important events to the DC timeline.

SWAMP THING #88 was intended to be "Morning of the Magician," which would have placed Swamp Thing at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. DC pulled the plug on the issue and Veitch walked away. While there was nothing seemingly blasphemous about Christ's appearance in the story, DC was shy of the controversy, since they had a SWAMP THING television series in development.

They've apparently gotten over their shyness, because now Vertigo is releasing what is intended to be a six-issue miniseries, SECOND COMING,

According to writer Mark Russell, Jesus' original divine mission to Earth was a failure, as he was arrested and crucified too soon. God has kept his Son locked up since then, with Jesus having no idea what has transpired on Earth over the last 2000 years. Now God sees Sun Man, a superhero, and sees in him "the varsity quarterback son" he never had, according to series artist, Richard Pace. So he sends Jesus back to Earth to learn a thing or two from the so-called "Last Son of Crispex." While on Earth, Jesus finds himself appalled at what passes for Christianity, and makes it his mission to set the record straight about what he actually did, said, and meant.

The idea is ripe with cringe, even for a publisher that was enough of an edgelord to publish the long-running (and quite good) Garth Ennis series, PREACHER, which featured a world where God had abdicated his throne, allowing injustice to go unchecked in the world. Unsurprisingly, an online petition was created urging DC to not publish the series.

The role of Jesus Christ and God in the DC Universe has always been bandied about in different ways. The Spectre supposedly works directly for God. Grant Morrison had an angel, Zauriel, as a member of the Justice League. One origin of the Phantom Stranger has it that he was present at the Crucifixion and wanders the Earth immortally as a curse. And last year, on CW's series LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, a plan to time travel to the moment of the Crucifixion was belayed by Rip Hunter because it was considered a moment in time that was off limits to visitation due to its historical significance.

It's unlikely that any petition -- which has garnered over 100,000 signatures -- is going to cease publication of the series. Nor, in fact, should it. If anything, the publicity will likely drive the curious to see what the big deal is, much the way BATMAN: DAMNED #1 was sold because of the meaningless appearance of Bruce Wayne's penis.

Mark Russell may enjoy the role of the iconoclast as he, once again, writes irreverence for the non-religious. But this writer recognizes a stinkeroo when he sees one, and I won't be reading it even for review purposes.