I've been doing a lot of reviews lately, and not much in the way of general comics disucssion. With this post, though, I'll have talked about pretty much all the bonus books I've gotten lately and I'll probably go back to general discussion material in short order.
Today, I'm talking about several of the books I've seen lately by Josh Howard. He's the creative force behind Dead@17 which was a book I had heard good -- but vague -- things about. Indeed the original was evidently successful enough to spawn several sequels including the two I read called Dead@17: Revolution and Dead@17 volume 2. The basic plot revolves a 17-year-old girl named Nara, who is killed but was apparently one of a select group who are brought back to life with great powers. The evil Bolabogg is trying to manifest himself on Earth, and it's mainly up to Nara to stop him. Those two sentences are more than I knew about the series before reading any of it. The Lost Books of Eve is about the Biblical Eve. Her counterpart, Adam, was been kidnapped and Eve is convinced to leave the Garden of Eden to look for him.
Now, with Eve, I was fairly prepared what to expect just from the cover. There's a naked girl under an apple tree, a classic font on the cover... I think it's fair to assume we're talking about the stories about the Biblical Eve that have never been told. (Hence the "Lost Books" part of the title.)
With all of the Dead@17 books, the covers depicted a girl who clearly is not dead. Or a zombie. Or anything that would suggest to me that she had ever died. So I assumed -- wrongly, as it turns out -- that the title was more metaphoric. Whoever this girl was had her life interrupted when she was 17 for some reason, and she couldn't finish high school or go to college or whatever. Maybe her parents died and she had to live on her own.
So even my limited expectations for the book were thrown a 180 right from the start. Strike one.
Well, Nara and her companion/protector are fighting some nasties early in the book. They mostly look human until they break out in a case of evil, and get pitch black eyes and a tentacle-like tongue. I'm thinking aliens, maybe, or genetic mutations. Side effect of being possessed perhaps?
Nope. No, no. After all the baddies are taken out, there's a comment about them being zombies.
Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike the concept of zombies?
There are so many problems with the concept of zombies. If you're looking at walking skeletons or something, there's generally a suspension of disbelief already going on. You've had a wizard or something resurrect them, right? Not so with zombies! No, they just seem to pop up wholly of their own volition for no real reason with no motivation. Well, except to kill/eat the living. Which they do why...? And, if they're so slow mentally and physically, why are they a problem to deal with? And they move too slowly to generate enough force to really do any damage to people. And why do they stop fighting once they're beheaded? They're clearly not being controlled by their brain functions anyway.
I could go on and on, but let's just say I find the concept of zombies absurd. There just too many holes with even the basic premise for me to buy into it. Strike two.
So, I'm still reading through. Nara's teamed up with this rebel group trying to destroy Bolabogg, and it's really starting to get very blatantly good versus evil. Not just cowboy Western good and evil, but really Biblical good and evil. Angels from Heaven, Fires of Hell, the whole bit... And there we have Strike Three.
I am, as I've mentioned before, an atheist. At the risk of alienating what small readership I have, I tend to find stories that use religion -- Christianity especially -- as a basis offensive. Not that I don't read ABOUT religion. Non-fiction works about religion are often quite informative, and help in understanding why people do the things they do. But the stories based on religion don't sit well with me. They tend to come across to me as proselytizing, regardless of whether or not that was the creator's intention.
Now if a character is used who happens to be of any religious persuation, I can deal with that. After all, many people in the real world are religious themselves. (I actually quite like the show Vicar of Dibley and Father Ted wasn't too bad.) But stories that focus on telling a religious or religously inspired message, that gets under my skin more often than not. I feel like the author(s) are using a medium, whether that be comics or movies or prose or whatever, to tout their religion over others in a subversive manner. It seems to me that, if you want to deliver your message of salvation, don't try to wrap it up in something other than what it is. Be honest with your approach and don't think you're being clever by sneaking it in under the guise of zombie-hunting revolutionaries (or whatever).
It was a shame really. I rather like Josh's artistic style, and his storytelling was pretty solid in these books. Indeed, there may well be a good story there that a lot of people will/already do latch onto. But I don't have any intention of paying someone to tell me how wondeful their belief system -- or, more often than not, the belief system their parents sold them -- is, regardless of what kind of superficial trappings are placed around it.
I was kind of interesting in his upcoming book called Sasquatch actually, until I read his other stuff. The art is still interesting, but I just have the sneaking suspicion that Divine Providence will play a role in the story.
I'm fully aware that my anti-relgion stance is a decided bias I bring to the table. My opinion of Josh Howard's work is largely based on the subject matter he chooses to deal with, and not the work itself. I know that. He seems pretty talented (certainly moreso than me when it comes to comic book creation) and he might well be a great guy to be with. But I, for one, don't really care to waste my time on the message it looks like he's sending.