When I was 12 years old, the Gandhi II bit from UHF was the funniest thing in the world. Most everything in UHF is still funny to 40-year-old me, but the Gandhi II bit seems a little easy: take a peaceful historical figure and make him an action hero.
Jesusfreak, the new comic from Image Comics, initially seems like the same one-joke provocation. But writer Joe Casey and artist Benjamin Marra do something interesting. Yes, they retell the story of Jesus of Nazareth in the language of 1970s kung-fu comics and we do see Jesus decapitating Romans with karate chops.
But as I write for Think Christian, there’s a lot more going on here than a simple edge-lord take:
None of this feels realistic, which Casey acknowledges in the book’s introduction. Despite the arduous historical research that he’s done, he lets the story veer into “pure symbolism” and “surrealism.” When applied to the book’s fight scenes, this hallucinogenic quality elevates Jesusfreak from a simple provocation about a “butt-kicking Jesus” to commentary on the way we talk about God. By envisioning Christ in the form of a ’70s kung-fu warrior, one who speaks in the violent vernacular of the genre, the comic forces those of us who emulate Jesus to once again answer the question, “Who do you say I am?”
Check out the whole thing here, and let me know below about any other interesting revisionist takes on philosophical and religious figures!
(Of, if that’s too heavy, tell me your favorite bit from UHF! Mine’s still the homeless guy doing the Rubik’s Cube with the blind guy.)