It seems only apt that a genre that asks of its readers that they suspend their disbelief some (actually, a lot) often deals with subjects related to faith. A few previous editions of CF have dealt with how several graphic novels, especially those whose plots are a trifle fantastic, are road books that involve a quest.
Apart from the physical aspects (most involve a search for something, someplace, or someone), most quests are also journeys in search of faith. Unbelievers become believers. And believers realize that they have all along believed in the wrong things.
American Virgin: A mix of sex violence
Preacher, that ultra-violent work of Garth Ennis, is one such, and it could, despite its vintage, emerge as the subject of a future CF column.
Osama Tezuka’s Ode to Kirihito, the subject of last week’s CF, is another graphic novel that involves a journey and a quest for faith.
And Max Allen Collins’ Road to Perdition books (again, these have been the subject of a previous edition of this column) tell the story of a journey.
Steven T Seagle’s and Becky Cloonan’s American Virgin is a graphic novel series in the same spirit.
The first Seagle I read was It’s a Bird, a unique Superman story in which the man of steel doesn’t really make an appearance.
American Virgin isn’t as radical as that, but in its own ways it is a revolutionary graphic novel that mixes sex, violence and religion in equal measure to pose a larger question of faith.
It is about a young evangelist of sorts, Adam Chamberlain, a virgin who is “keeping” himself for his fiancee, an aid worker in Africa; the fiancee, who it turns out hasn’t really been keeping herself for Adam, is raped and then butchered by some terrorists in Africa. With his half-sister and an Australian mercenary, Adam gives chase. He is still a believer, only he isn’t very sure what he believes in.
Cloonan’s illustrations, especially the cover art, are downright psychedelic in parts, but that’s just right for a book on as nebulous a subject as faith.
American Virgin is a young comic and I’d guess that we are about a fifth into its telling. I have no idea what Seagle has in mind for Adam or how the book will move on from where it is now. What I do know is that Seagle has already managed to capture, through Adam and in him, the amalgam of paranoia, jealousy, avarice, lust, and doubt that often goes for faith these days.
As for me, like all good comic book fans, I believe in Batman.
Write to Sukumar at firstname.lastname@example.org