Monday, November 22, 2010

The Title Says It All, Little Humor, Little Satire To Jesus Hates Zombies Featuring Lincoln Hates Werewolves Volume 1: "Yea, Though I Walk . . ."

The Good: Audacious concept, One or two funny lines
The Bad: Short, Proportionally expensive, Artwork
The Basics: Little more than a pamphlet, if one reads the title Jesus Hates Zombies Featuring Lincoln Hates Werewolves Volume 1: "Yea, Though I Walk..." they've gotten the gist of this book.

For those who might not read my many, many reviews, I have a deep love of religious satire. One of the most informative books in recent years was also one of the funniest I found, with The Sinner's Guide To The Evangelical Right. Last year, I also enjoyed the Bill Maher documentary Religulous and Kevin Smith's film Dogma is one of my favorites of all time. My point with all of this is that I love a good poke at organized religion and as a result, I'm a good person to go to about dodgy, possibly heretical books of humor. I have a decent eye for funny and a mind that appreciates smart satire.

So, it is saying something when I write that Jesus Hates Zombies Featuring Lincoln Hates Werewolves is not smart, satirical, or even particularly funny. In fact, it is not much of a book. If you've never heard of this little graphic novel, it is unsurprising; I only stumbled upon it at Barnes & Noble the other day and was surprised it is its own little franchise. The thing is, author Stephen Lindsay seems to say all he wants to say in the premise, which is the title. Actually, the full title of this volume is: Jesus Hates Zombies Featuring Lincoln Hates Werewolves: Volume 1 "Yea, Though I Walk." That's a bit of a mouthful, so I'll just refer to it as Jesus Hates Zombies, even though this is the second in the series. This was preceded by a standalone volume simply entitled Jesus Hates Zombies: Those Slack-Jaw Blues and was followed by Jesus Hates Zombies Featuring Lincoln Hates Werewolves Volume 2 with some inevitable subtitle. But, unfortunately for readers, this is a very limited premise in a limited book, with limited appeal, even to its target demographic.

Jesus Christ has returned to Earth to beat the skulls in of the walking dead who now roam the streets freely. The zombies do little but wander around, whereby Jesus rescues humans with his bat, named Samson, by knocking their heads off. The scourge of zombies, though, is extensive and Jesus's powers are limited by the faith of the human race. If Jesus can marshal humans to his cause, he will become invincible against the zombies, but faith runs low these days. As a result, Jesus is forced to flee the streets to a church with his sidekick, Laz, where the lone man who remaining there is a giant homosexual who instantly recognizes Jesus and rescues him.

Interspersed throughout Jesus fleeing and meeting with the deeply jealous angel Gabriel are a series of flashbacks to the 1800s. In 1821, Abraham Lincoln encounters a werewolf and slays it. As he ages into the 1860s, he continues to use his ax to kill werewolves whenever he encounters them. But a mysterious cloaked man pops up, determined to protect the werewolves and thwart Lincoln and he stalks him. The issue ends with a flashback story wherein Lincoln wrestles with a man, who then turns over a werewolf for him to kill.

With only sixty-four pages, some of which have author Stephen Lindsay writing about the project, Jesus Hates Werewolves is an unfortunate waste of money at $7.95. The title says it all, the premise is simple and there is little memorable about the writing. In fact, what one might think could be deliciously ironic or satirical, simply falls flat because most of the panels simply have Jesus running or smacking the heads off zombies. Worse than that are Laz's utterances which one struggles to make sense of.

On the plus side, Lindsay is obviously open-minded and the book promotes the ideals of Jesus Christ in terms of "love thy neighbor" quite well. So, for example, when Jesus encounters the survivor at the church, he is forgiving, compassionate, and lets loose about how gays are just fine with Him. His acceptance and true love is noble and Lindsay portrays that fine in the book. As well, there is a very tongue-in-cheek remark that is actually funny and holds up. As Jesus and Laz flee for the church, Jesus notes "Every church needs a back door! The priests wouldn't have it any other way." The double entendre may be uncouth, but it is funny and timely.

Unfortunately, though, too much of the book is based upon the novelty that we get from the title. Why Abraham Lincoln hates werewolves is never truly explained, only that he has fought them most of his life. The reader can live with Jesus hating the undead (zombies are cursed, aren't they?!), but the whole Lincoln thing seems just like an exploitative use of the one-trick pony that came from the success of Jesus Hates Zombies. The few pages devoted to Lincoln are repetitive, pointless and break into the main story poorly.

As for Jesus hating zombies, that is all well and good, save for his sidekick. Laz, presumably the rotting remains of Lazarus who just never dies, is a smelly, desiccating wreck. The distinction between him and a zombie is not made in the book, so why Jesus is palling around with a zombie, much like the ones he hates, is something of a mystery.

What isn't a mystery is the artwork. The artwork in Yea, Though I Walk . . . is just plain terrible. Steve Cobb illustrates this graphic novel (I hesitate to call it a "novel" based on its length, it is more like a "graphic vignette" or "sketch") . . . poorly and the tease of getting the book in this form is that Lindsay closes the book with writing about how his regular artist had to back out and that he was sorry to see her go. The last five pages of the book are the first five pages of the story with very different artwork. The alternative artwork is much more detailed, less cartoonish and characters like Laz are fleshed out with details that make them more distinctive. As it stands, Cobb's artwork has Laz virtually identical to the zombies in his depictions and doing some weird thing where his head detaches above the jaw whenever she speaks.

The artwork is sloppy and the entire booklet is in black and white. The lettering is (mostly) legible and it is an easy to follow story. But it is hard to get excited about trying as this lacks real depth or much in the way of humor.

For other graphic novels, please check out my reviews of:
Watchmen By Alan Moore
Star Trek Omnibus 1 By Marv Wolfman
Wonder Woman: Rise Of The Olympian By Gail Simone


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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