Title: Messiah: Origin
Author: Mark Arey [adapter], Kai Carpenter [illustrator], Matt Dorff [translator]
We’ve never reviewed a graphic novel on Key Resources, but this new “origin story” volume from Zondervan caught our eye recently. Here’s what jumped out at me.
Story: This volume only encapsulates the beginning of the Gospels, thus the origin title, and does not delve deeply into too many theological questions. The Evangelical perspective is apparent, but it did not detract from the experience for this Mainline reader. The story is one we have heard countless times in Sunday School and nothing is surprising. But the new translation creates opportunities for discussion, and one could compare various translations easily with the scripture index at the end of the book. Since the novel begins with John’s prologue, the creators include both genealogies from Matthew and Luke as the last two chapters.
Art: I expected hard lines and more defined art, but the loose brush style seems to work and helps the art capture the sense of the prose. Some of it looks like it should be hung on a wall for display. Many of the panels convey the text brilliantly. For instance, Mary receiving the news about being with child demonstrates the power of this medium. We almost don’t need the words. Other panels show the angel giving Mary a look that would cause me to wonder if this angel was from heaven or hell.
The history nerd comes out when I see a beautiful panel attempting to depict the act of rejoicing. The artist uses light streaming through stained glass in the background. Unfortunately, stained glass would not be used for another 500 years, and this artistic choice took me out of the moment.
The panels become brighter and more lively as the story unfolds, and I look forward to the next editions to see how the art organically evolves along with the story.
Main Take Away: Adults can enjoy the art, and tweens and teens can enjoy reading a “comic” that highlights the origin of Jesus. One could use this as a gateway into studying the Bible in more depth while asking questions about how the story is depicted through the art.
Hopefully when the rest of the collection is released, an entire curriculum could be built on the series as a jumping off point for further study of the Gospels.
Chris Hamby (@chris_hamby) is the digital producer in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching and an M.Div. student at Virginia Theological Seminary.