DC Comics: The home for gods ... and now, the God!
Jesus Christ is making his triumphant return -- to comics -- for a new series released through DC Comics' adult-oriented Vertigo Comics imprint in a new title aptly called Second Coming. From writer Mark Russell and artist Richard Pace, the outing is sure to be a satire (just look at that cover image). The title will tell a new fictional tale centered around Christ in which the religious figure returns to Earth, rooming with a Superman analog created for this story, named Sun-Man. Certainly, no one will be offended.
DC Comics has proven time and time again, if anyone's going to tackle a gargantuan religious figure like Jesus Christ in comics, they're the right publisher to do it. While any publisher can write Jesus as much as they want -- public domain, baby! -- no one has earned it as much as DC.
At DC, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster popularized (and arguably created) the superhero with Kal-El, Son of Krypton -- Superman. Obviously inspired by Siegel and Shuster's own Judeo-Christian philosophies, Superman is remarkably similar, even on the most basic level, to Jesus Christ. I won't bore you with all the similarities (you can watch Man of Steel for that) -- all we have to do is look at the cover for 1938's Action Comics #1.
As talked about in detail for Grant Morrison's novel, the superhero manifesto, Supergods, the striking image has Superman lifting an automobile, scaring the... bejeezus out of some upper-class "suit." No doubt a rejection of the super-wealthy overlords, the iconic image depicts a class disruption that echoes themes of Jesus' own uprising and criticism of the upper-class as he took on tax collectors and establishment religious leaders.
Fast forward 50 years and Morrison reinvented a character called Animal Man for what would become a nifty new imprint called Vertigo. In his reimagining, Morrison had Animal Man meet the man who writes his life: The Writer! A caricature of Morrison himself, the brilliant scribe used the story to (among other things) say something about the invulnerability, magic and wonder that comes from storytelling, which is impossible to exactly replicate in a real world. However, we can try!
These sentiments are reminiscent of themes from a certain big book. From feeling like "an actor in the wrong play," to directly addressing the reader in an extremely meta fashion (Jesus does that... a lot!), the story echoes so many biblical themes and devices. We're not saying DC was the only publisher to do this, and that a place like Marvel couldn't conjure up such a wonderful tale -- it's that they've proven they can handle the deep themes better than anyone else and execute on them in a memorable way.
Even in its less personal and grounded stories, DC handles complex religious themes that a publisher like Marvel wouldn't touch (or, at least, handle properly). The Anti-Life Equation, for example -- the great weapon only Mister Miracle can understand without being driven mad -- is an analogue for being so grounded in fact that it erases all hope for the inconceivable and what one can accomplish with a little device called dreams.
DC is criticized for dealing with "invincible" characters. Why not tackle the most invincible literary figure of the last couple millennia? Jesus Christ, though human, is a perfect embodiment of God. He erased Original Sin. He opened the gates to Heaven. He can do no wrong. What's so interesting about that? Ha, plenty! Just ask DC.