The 6 Greatest Jesus Appearances in Comics
Merry Christmas, henchmen and henchwomen! Are you enjoying the big day? I know I am. So let’s celebrate with style! Two years ago, I put together a list of Santa Claus’ best comic book appearances. I think it’s only fair to give proper due to the other half of the Christmas occasion: so let’s take a look at the best comic book appearances of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ!
Surprisingly, J-Christ doesn’t get around as much as I thought he would. He isn’t even an honorary member of the Justice League, fer cryin’ out loud! But don’t feel too bad for the Son. Whether he’s a 12-year-old boy, a black man, a gun-toting maniac or a zombie-killing badass, comics love Jesus.
So join me after the jump, on this day of his Holy birth, to celebrate Christmas with the six greatest Jesus guest-appearances in comics! All religious denominations are welcome.
6. American Jesus
What if Jesus returned to life in the modern day? That’s the question writer Mark Millar seeks to answer in American Jesus: Chosen, the story of 12-year-old Jodie Christianson and his discovery that he might just be Jesus born anew. When Jodie survives having a tractor trailer fall on his head (long story), he starts getting told that the church elders already knew he was someone special. Then Jodie starts healing the sick, turning water into wine and basically doing all the typical Jesus stuff you’d expect for a kid and his buddies who are using the Bible like a checklist.
There doesn’t seem to be any sign of a Volume 2, but Millar has given interviews where he says he has the whole trilogy planned out. It’s a neat little story as Jodie starts to get the whole town to believe in him, including the drunk, faithless town preacher. But it’s also all pretty straight forward. He’s New Jesus, so of course he can turn water into wine and heal the sick. But at least Millar adds some neat touches, like Jodie at first thinking he’s going to be an X-Man, or his moment in the temple turning out to just be Jodie in the teacher’s lounge. Volume 1 cuts off before anything major happens (other than one big twist), and there’s no telling when we’ll get to see Volume 2, if ever. But at least Volume 1 is a quaint little tale of religion and Star Wars.
5. Jesus and Ghost Rider
Jesus and Superman may not be flying side-by-side, but only because Jesus prefers badass motorcycles! In a battle against Satan himself, Ghost Rider, the flaming motorcycle-riding Spirit of Vengeance, received a helping hand from a certain long-haired ‘Friend’. Together, they cast Satan back, and Ghost Rider went on to wage war against the devilish fiend! The idea was that if Ghost Rider can get into a fight with Satan, why can’t he get help from God?
Unfortunately, the world being what it is, one of writer Tony Isabella’s editors stepped in and said it probably wasn’t a good idea to use Jesus in this context. The editor, Jim Shooter, rewrote the last issue of the story to have Satan reveal that the ‘Friend’ was just an illusion, and not really Jesus teaming up with Ghost Rider, like Isabella intended. Personally, I think Jesus would have been totally cool with the cameo.
4. Jesus and Battle Pope
Pope Francis is turning out to be a pretty great guy, but has he ever battled Satan and his armies of demons to protect all of humanity following the Rapture? That burden falls to Pope Oswald Leopold II, otherwise known as the Battle Pope! Forsaken by God for his drinking and womanizing, Leopold is given a chance to redeem himself after the Rapture, when Satan kidnaps St. Michael in an effort to conquer the world. And to help the Battle Pope on his quest, God sends his only son, Jesus H. Christ, to be his sidekick. They’re a regular Batman and Robin.
Or the odd couple.
Written by Robert Kirkman (the guy behind The Walker Dead), Battle Pope is a pretty solid action story about a super-powered Pope kicking all manner of demon butt! Isn’t that what we want from our Pontiff? Jesus in this book is a bit of a hippie, or maybe he’s more like The Dude. Flip-flops, unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, an ‘I’m with stupid’ T-shirt; and clearly that’s more of a hippie beard than ever before. But what do you want? Jesus is a pacifist, remember? He leaves most of the battling to the Pope, though his super-powers do come in handy from time to time. Can’t say the same thing about the short shorts though.
3. Chronicles of Wormwood
Danny Wormwood is the Anti-Christ, the son of Satan, but he would rather go on living a normal life than have anything to do with his dad or Armageddon. Danny’s best pal is Jesus Christ, who, likewise, would rather leave humanity’s fate up to humanity rather than enact the ridiculous prophecies of their respective fathers. Unfortunately, Jesus – or ‘Jay’ – is once again suffering for the sins of man. Returned to Earth as a black man (because Jesus was born in the Middle East, remember), Jay tried to once again preach peace, but he didn’t count on the LAPD. After suffering a blow to the head from the riot police, Jay is mentally handicapped, but that hasn’t stopped him and Danny from getting a pint together every now and then.
In the Chronicles of Wormwood, Satan kidnaps Jay down to Hell and cures his handicap. Once he has his faculties again, Jay tries to convince Danny that the life he was living was its own kind of Hell, and that Danny should just put him out of his misery and bring about the Apocalypse. But Danny won’t stand for it, and he reminds Jay of the importance of sacrifice, of everything Jesus Christ stands for to the people on Earth. Together, the two pals agree to stand strong and put God and Satan in their place! Then it’s right back to the bar!
2. In the Name of the Gun
Remember when I said Jesus was a pacifist? Yeah…you can forget all of that. Jesus Christ: In the Name of the Gun is written by Eric Peterson, and it’s the story of an angry, bitter, loose cannon Jesus who is so fed up with humanity that he goes back in time so that he can be born in Russia in the early 20th century just so that he can personally sniper Hitler in the face (though a gun-toting, time-traveling ninja Ernest Hemingway beats him to it…try to keep up)! In the Name of the Gun is Jesus as the ultimate action movie badass, personally sticking it to the Nazis, like we all wish we could. Plus, of course, he has all of his super-powers, like walking on water.
Yeah, it’s also probably the raunchiest appearance on this list, but that’s kind of the point. Peterson doesn’t shy away from anything, whether it’s Jesus swearing, smoking, breaking necks, blowing off heads or needing to go #2 every time he resurrects a person – yeah, that’s kind of a running thing in the comic. It’s more than a little weird. But it’s an indie comic about Jesus battling Hitler, you should expect a little scatalogical humor. Edgy sells, even when it comes to the Lamb of God.
1. Jesus Hates Zombies
Jesus is the original zombie. So who better for God to send down to Earth during the zombie apocalypse than Jesus himself to clean house and set the world back in order? The brainchild of writer Stephen Lindsay, with a whole slew of various artists, this Jesus is once again a foul-mouthed butt-kicker, only now he’s bashing the brains of the undead instead of Nazis. Either is good in my book. Lindsay started out in 2007 with an anthology of various short Jesus vs. zombies stories, little snippets into the life of Christ in the post-apocalypse. They’re your typical brain-smashing books, with the Son of God taking on all gruesome comers and learning a life lesson or two.
The adventure really picks up in the second book, titled ‘Yea, Though I Walk’. It’s longer and grittier, with Jesus on a fight through a dark, zombie-filled city, alongside several other helpful survivors. Jesus’ powers are only at full strength when people believe in him, and it’s not easy to find believers in the post-apocalypse. The writing team does not shy away from any gruesome zombie fun, let me tell you. Blood, gore and Jesus – but that’s not all! About halfway through the comic, he’s joined by a time-traveling Abraham Lincoln, who in this reality is a werewolf-hunter. Because of course he is.
God bless America! and Merry Christmas too!