by Steve Ross
Seabury Press, 2005
is the idealist who struggles to keep his inner passions in check.
Batman is the dark knight driven by shadowy forces to root out evil.
Spiderman is the misunderstood kid who tries to do good, but often
misses the mark. And Jesus? According to Steve Ross, he’s
the working-class dude who hangs out with losers and prostitutes,
casts out demons, heals the sick, and breaks out of his tomb.
creating Jesus-the-comic-book-hero, Ross clearly made his first
priority that of producing a good comic book. He
sets his retelling of Mark’s Gospel in a modern-day, Gotham-like
city that has been taken over by a fascist regime. In the opening
frames, Jesus is a tall and slender construction worker who sports
a Willie Nelson-esque hairstyle, complete with beard and bandana.
Hearing about John the Baptizer on the TV news, he goes to be baptized
and afterwards shaves his hair and beard, making himself powerfully
similar to Morpheus in The Matrix.
of Mark, the earliest of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life,
will be familiar with the story of Marked. Basically, Ross
gives us highlights from Mark’s Gospel drawn out frame-by-frame
in a whimsical style that’s somewhere between “Doonesbury”
and Mad magazine. Peter is a fishmonger who drives a panel
truck and wears a trucker’s cap; Mary is a plain Jane in a
flower-pattern dress and bob hairdo; and the high priest looks a
lot like Jabba the Hut.
of the story are told through live newscasts and reality shows,
and many of the characters (especially the newscasters) are depicted
in blindfolds representing their spiritual blindness.
had expected something similar to the story bibles we read in Sunday
school, but Ross’ translation takes the Gospel in a completely
Marked is essentially a satire of modern life. Ross has
a lot of fun sending up televangelists, the medical establishment,
and even the packaged foods industry. The
combination of the sometimes zany, sometimes dark and disturbing
drawings, along with the super-cool character of Jesus creates an
atmosphere whereby the power of Mark’s Gospel can be seen
with fresh eyes. This book is worth 1,000 homilies
was born into an age of heroes. On earth, the Roman emperor and
his deputies were to be seen as gods, and in the heavens Jupiter
and the pantheon reigned. In occupied Palestine, visionaries and
messiahs sought to incite rebellion and overthrow the oppressive
reminds us that Jesus is a different kind of superhero. Like the
others, he’s an idealist; he drives out demons, and fights
for the underdog. But ultimately, his message is otherworldly. Hope
lies in a kingdom-yet-to-come. So just as the Gospels subsume the
hero story and transform it into something new, strange and ultimate,
so Marked rectifies the materialist, earth-bound aspects
of the superhero and gives fans of the comic book genre a superhero
they can really believe in.
©2006 John Tintera
To purchase a copy of MARKED,
visit amazon.com. This link is provided as a service to explorefaith
visitors and registered