Sean Murphy's "Punk Rock Jesus" #2, like the standout first issue, is packed to the gills with gorgeously detailed black and white visuals and enough plot to fill two comics. Moving at a breakneck pace, but finding good places for character development, Murphy proves to be both a great artist and a truly interesting storyteller.
The idea for "Punk Rock Jesus" is great, but great ideas are only as good as their execution. When I first saw the solicits for "Punk Rock Jesus," I was interested based on Murphy's art, but I admit I didn't expect the concept to be nearly so clever or masterful an execution.
In a high-concept book based heavily in the real world (tweaked enough to give plenty of room for creative license), it would be easy to fall into too much world building or vast exposition dumps to get readers the information they need, but Murphy smartly side-steps most of that by just showing readers everything we need to know in real time and flashbacks. Since comics are a visual medium, one would think there would be far fewer issues with telling instead of showing, but it's actually a fairly rampant problem. Murphy doesn't fall into this trap and it's wonderfully refreshing. There are still aspects of his story to wonder about, but there's also a confidence in the execution that makes a reader have faith that all will be revealed.
The first issue left readers with one major twist and issue #2 has hinted at another that may tie creatively to the first. On the whole, this second installment is not as strong as the first largely due to the abrupt ending, which feels jarring compared to the rest of the issue. It doesn't ruin the story by any means, but it feels like the first mistake in an otherwise exceptional first two issues.
Murphy's art is a brilliant reminder of how beautiful a black and white book can be in the right hands. His details are absolutely off the charts and character expression and movement is dead on in every panel. His character design is sublime, and he paces his story beautifully. There's simply not a thing to complain about when it comes to the visuals on this book.
Like many, the first I really saw of Sean Murphy was his gorgeous art for Grant Morrison's "Joe the Barbarian" and I've subsequently bought everything of his I've seen. He's quickly established himself as one of the great comics artists working today, but "Punk Rock Jesus" proves him to be a talent to watch on multiple levels. He has the makings of more than just a great artist, but a great comics creator as well, and we may be seeing it right now with his bold and exciting "Punk Rock Jesus."