If modern day comic books are like the bloated arena rock machine of the 70s, then Punk Rock Jesus is the first Stooges album, or the first MC5 record. Punk Rock Jesus is the comic book that shatters that bloat and pomposity of today's comic scene. Few of the monthly on-going titles are as good as Punk Rock Jesus, and nothing in the mini-series world can touch it. The only surprising thing about PRJ #5 is that it blew #4 out of the water, something I thought would be impossible.
The world is coming unglued. Chris, the boy who is supposedly the clone of Jesus Christ, has turned his back on the corporation that raised him, the world that embraced him and the religion that betrayed him. After watching his mother murdered by the New Age Christians, Chris has taken his band The Flak Jackets to new heights. Using the power of their music and the intelligence of Chris’s message, The Flak Jackets have raised the ire of the youth and created a punk rock army.
What goes down in Punk Rock Jesus #5 is too complex and layered to try and encapsulate in a review. Suffice it to say, Thomas is back, The Flak Jackets are famous, the corporation is crumbling and, by the end of the issue, Chris and his band look to create their biggest impact against organized religion in its birthplace. Writer/Artist Sean Murphy is a masterful storyteller. Though his style is frenetic and fast paced, he’s good enough to make you care about all the characters and remain invested in every aspect of the story.
From Chris’s battle between being a leader and wanting a normal life, to Thomas’s war background, to the war going on between the punk rock army and New Age Christians, Murphy never lets the pieces overpower the whole. This is his statement against religion, greed, corporate America and all the things that pollute our lives. I love that Murphy connects with the power that punk rock once had. Before it became no more important than the hula-hoop, punk rock had the power to change the world. What’s happening within the pages of Punk Rock Jesus is exactly the kind of change through music that Joe Strummer always sang about.
Murphy pencils his script with the same kind of energy he writes with. Whether using still shots to create tension or high energy ones to communicate chaos, Murphy knows exactly how to string panels together to create huge moments of action and then smaller, quiet moments of real drama. I love the heavy inks and the thick lines. Just like his script, each stroke of Murphy’s pen is masterful.
Punk Rock Jesus is as good as comic books get. Nothing else comes close.