Spring breezes are helping to loft Therefore Repent! on the wing...
Imagine what would happen if all the right-wing Christians suddenly floated up into the sky, and your wiccan lesbian neighbors could suddenly do real magic. That's the premise of magic realist/scifi/defies description graphic novel Therefore Repent!, written by the awesome scifi author Jim Munroe and drawn beautifully by Salgood Sam. What appeals about Munroe's post-rapture tale, aside the believable characters in outlandish situations, is the way it serves as a progressive, humane rejoinder to the Christian scifi novels in the Left Behind series, whose premise is almost exactly the same.
Munroe is one of my very favorite scifi writers — he's the creator of the nanopunk film Infest Wisely (free online!), as well as the author of Everyone in Silico, Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask (free online!), and An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil, the prequel to Therefore Repent! This is his first foray into comics, and he takes to the medium well.
We meet Mummy and Raven, a couple of artists who used to do an act where they dressed up as a mummy and a raven, as they are searching for a home in a world turned upsidown by the rapture of hundreds of thousands of Christians. Those left behind are divided between "splitters," people who are trying to go as Christian as possible so they'll be taken up during the Apocalypse (this includes George W. Bush), and people who are happy to live in a world free from Christians. Mummy and Raven are among the latter, and they've moved into a cozy squat left abandoned by its raptured inhabitants. Things start to get even more unhinged, however, when angels in military uniforms start machine gunning "sinners," and dogs start to talk. Plus, ordinary people are starting to develop weird magical powers — one woman can send email by attaching ethernet cables to her piercings, and Raven herself can create birds out of smoke.
As the wiccans, lesbians, and punks start to band together to fight the paramilitary angels, Raven and Mummy start to have relationship difficulties. Mummy is flirting with the cute indie rock girl at the bar down the street, and Raven is keeping her feelings so bottled up that she's become psychologically stuck. This is the great thing about Munroe's writing, always: he manages to write weirdly sweet romantic stories set against a backdrop of the apocalypse or some kind of huge technological emergency. Salgood's drawings manage to be both dark and funny, cute sketches that shade into shadowy gloom, which perfectly harmonizes with the mood of the narrative.
There's a terrifically great twist ending which despite my love of spoilers I won't give away. Suffice to say, the story stays consistently surprising and weird, and the message is never a simple "Christianity is stupid" dogma at all. Instead, the point is to be careful about what kind of paradise you wish for. You just might get it.
You can buy all of Munroe's books, including Therefore Repent, here.
Also a list of stores carrying Therefore Repent! can be found here allong with other online options.
posted by max at 5/21/2008 11:03:00 p.m.