Do you remember Garth Ennis’ The Boys? And how it was cancelled by DC, despite its strong sales, due to content issues? Well, luckily there’s always Avatar, the indie publisher often the home to pet projects from creators like Ennis, Mark Millar and Warren Ellis which the major publishers wouldn’t touch. Well, with his Chronicles of Wormwood, it’s not like he has tamed anything. And I have no idea why no major publisher would touch this. I’m going to make a casual list of some characters and scenarios. You decide if this book is for you:
-Danny Wormwood, the Anti-Christ, has decided to turn his back on his destiny and simply goes about his business running a cable company much like HBO.
-He hangs out with a talking bunny named Jimmy.
-He pals around at a bar with Jay, what he calls Jesus Christ. Jay, upon his second coming, had his head bashed in by the LAPD and received brain damage. Yeah, a buddy story between the Anti-Christ and Brain-Damaged Jesus.
-His dad, Satan, isn’t exactly please that he’s turned his back on the family business.
-He spends his evenings buggering Joan of Arc
-There’s a drunken, sex-addicted Irish Pope who has him in his cross-hairs.
To say the book is filled with Ennis’ trademark coarse humor, profanity, blasphemy, and sex, is like saying he puts the “F” in satire.
Exploring the nature of religion and faith is familiar territory for Ennis, with Preacher being the highlight of his career thus far. He has several ideas about Jesus and heaven. For example, he believes that Jay “didn’t want God to be a bogeyman. He wanted compassion and tolerance and peaceful coexistence. He wanted to tear down the temples of the money lenders, wanted men to live by sharing.” … but that “didn’t work out too well for him.”
By issue three, Wormwood and Jay visit heaven and come to find out that heaven’s about being a decent person and loving one another while you’re alive. And that just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean you haven’t lived according to the life He’s called you to or done His will.
Despite Ennis wanting to move past the “myth” and constraints of religion, just because you’ve removed God and the devil from equation of your life doesn’t mean that the reality of the spiritual dimension, or its occasional intrusions, is also removed. You still are a free moral agent who has to choose what kind of life to lead, to make heaven or hell.
The other theme that jumps out is the idea that you don’t have to be who you think you are. You don’t have to be trapped by a default setting idea of who you are expected to be. You are a precious creation of God. Precious. Accept this definition of yourself. No, better stated, accept the truth of yourself. Recognize that you, too, are an eikon, an image-bearer of God; worthy of respect, value, and love. We participate in the Divine Being, meant to partake in the Divine Life and Happiness. We were created in love, for love, and are to open ourselves to the possibility of love. Embrace that love.
Here’s the kicker: if you can take it, The Chronicles of Wormwood is fast-paced, entertaining, clever, and surreal. No bit of sacrilege is left unturned. He wants to jab a finger in the eye of religion all the while exploring and getting to the root of religion’s core. It’s not exactly a challenge to make spiritual connections to this book. If nothing else, it’s a definite conversation starter.
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