Madefire and Boom! Studios go biblical, dragging Old Testament characters kicking and screaming into the modern world with Clive Barker’s Next Testament #1 & #2. Controversial? Maybe. Entertaining? Definitely.
People always say you should make a good first impression and the David Garcia Cruz cover illustration on the first issue of Clive Barker’s Next Testament certainly does that. It features a character who looks a little bit like a multi-coloured version of Marvel’s Silver Surfer and although this may make it look like a run-of-the-mill sci-fi comic, Next Testament is definitely not run-of-the-mill!
Coming from the pen of Clive Barker, you know that this book will concentrate on heavy, adult and often religious themes and lace them with violence and humour. Next Testament doesn’t disappoint and boy is it a violent book.
Next Testament has a basic but intriguing central premise – what would God (in tho case called Wick) make of Earth if he returned today? What would he have to do to get the human race to believe? Would he want to change things?
The story is split and jumps between two strands. There is the story of Julian Demond, an atheist and successful businessman, who drops everything to go on a walkabout in the desert believing he’s on a Mission from God. The second features Julian’s son Tristan and his partner Elspeth, who are worried about Julian and attempt to find out what is going on. The two stories eventually clash when Julian returns to town with Wick in tow and then the violence really begins.
These stories wind Old Testament tales throughout and Clive explores his themes well. Explaining different biblical stories and satirising them, he uses the character of Wick as his mouthpiece. He hints that perhaps one God couldn’t have made the Earth on his own and that Wick is one of many ‘Gods’ (hopefully they’ll arrive in later issues) and Wick is no loving God either, he’s vindictive and arrogant, using his power to alter the lives of the Human Race on a whim. He comes across as a multi-coloured Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon and wants nothing more from us than complete subjugation!
Haemi Jang’s flat art is solid if unspectacular morphing manga with a hint of Leinil Yu. She has a good sense of scale, knowing when to use larger panels for good effect – but more often than not her artwork is squashed into too many tiny panels. As such, Haemi’s artwork only really comes to life when the building violence does too and then it literally erupts from the page!
As with other Madefire licensed titles, this standard print comic has been given a new lease of life by the Madefire team and Micha Ritchie deserves praise for the build. The once flat artwork is given a good sense of perspective by the use of blur and overlapping, sliding panels. However it’s the accompanying Yuponce/Wendell Y score, that helps this book the most.
Next Testament opens with a stunning noise that literally makes you jump out of your skin. It is a big, bombastic operatic noise with full choral vocals. There is a rhythmic clanging of metal and it comes across like a cross between The Terminator and The Omen. All this bombastic vocal noise is framed by an eerie, often quiet synthesiser hum that really sets you on edge.