JUDAS #2 BY JEFF LOVENESS AND JAKUB REBELKA
Art
Plot
Characterization
Summary
In JUDAS #2, we shift our focus from Judas to Satan, who provides an insightful and captivating perspective on others victimized by God. With enthralling storytelling, Loveness makes you have sympathy for Biblical figures you never thought you'd sympathize with.
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BOOM! Studios’ comic series JUDAS immerses readers on a journey into Hell with Judas Iscariot as our guide. And what’s the point of going to Hell without meeting Satan? In JUDAS #2, Jeff Loveness and Jakub Rebelka prepare you for the encounter of a lifetime between Judas and the Devil.

Despite Judas’ first instinct to pummel the Ruler of Demons himself, Satan’s not looking for a fight. Rather, Satan wants to share some truths he believes Judas deserves to know. Satan recounts to Judas some people in biblical history who have played a role they couldn’t deviate from. The last issue focused on Judas becoming the villain in Jesus’ story. This time around, Satan guides you through his own life and the moment he fell from grace. Satan highlights the flawed image that is God, despite the high pedestal people have placed Him on.

JUDAS #1 Review: Step Aside, Dante

In a single issue, Loveness is able to add so many layers to Satan’s character. The previous issue had a high command of storytelling on a single character (Judas), while this issue has multiple narratives. Although the comic introduces many characters, we never lose our sense of who Satan is as a character. No one comes across as underdeveloped. There’s never too little information or too much to understand who each character is.

Satan leaves such a mixed impression in this issue. This feels very intentional. Satan may understand the hardships of those who can never be anybody else. And he does treat Judas with compassion. But one can’t help but feel wary of Satan. The fact that he goes by the name “ancient serpent” does not help.

Art and Stylization

JUDAS #2
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Much like the previous issue, Rebelka’s impressive illustrations continue to stun us in JUDAS #2. Readers are able to continuously marvel at the details he puts into the cold, ominous, and desolate terrain which composes Hell. You get a sense of despair, you get a sense of dread. Rebelka knows how to structure atmosphere in JUDAS #2. I especially loved the way he illustrated the Pharaoh, as well as many others, and the visible level of detail given to them. Even the cover of the issue is designed with beautiful precision.

However, much like I mentioned in the last review, sometimes the quality of the facial details begins to falter every now and then. Since there is more attention paid to Satan this time around, there are moments he looks a bit strange. Some of the illustrations come out rough, but despite that, I can overlook it. Much of the setting makes up for the smaller details in the artwork!

Satanism is Becoming More Saintlike Than Catholicism

JUDAS #2 and Predetermination

This issue further explores the concept of fate, which, by far, has been my favorite focal point in this comic. It starts off with Jesus’ and Judas’ story before diverging into others. Satan provides examples left and right, which is important to consider both sides of what is normally told (in the Bible/through teachings) as opposed to the victim’s side. Usually, you only hear the favorable aspects of God’s involvement. However, JUDAS #2 questions the fairness of those who suffered.

JUDAS #2
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

There’s plenty of movies and renditions of Moses’ tale. Most adaptations paint the Pharaoh as a despicable man for his treatment of the Hebrews. We give more attention to Moses parting the Red Sea and freeing the Israelites from Egypt. Yet there is not much thought about the Pharaoh’s firstborn child’s death. For a divine entity worshipped by many, God still brings about a plague, even to the innocents in the kingdom, such as children.

JUDAS #2
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

JUDAS #2 pushes aside the religious ideologies engrained in modern adaptations you may have watched. I never gave a second thought to the Pharaoh, nor to his child or kingdom. Which, now that I consider it, is cruel in a way. We generally hear one version of a story and call it a day. I can’t imagine setting someone up to feel the worst kinds of misery in order to make certain events happen. It’s a strong level of cruelty and malice you don’t pair with God, but rather with Satan. Looks like the tables have turned.

The Pharaoh and Divine Right

JUDAS #2 briefly covers the Pharaoh and questions his status as “villainous.” After all, the Pharaoh and other villains still glorify God and justify His actions. Now, the thing is, the Pharaoh himself is fairly unlike the others Satan mentions. In JUDAS, God hardens the Pharaoh’s heart towards Moses so that he will not listen to anything Moses says. But to what extent was it hardened? Is the Pharaoh born as a divine ruler to some and a menace to those he enslaved? Or was he only closed off to Moses and acknowledged the caste system which structures his kingdom? Did his status as pharaoh blind him to the moral injustices of slavery? Did God create a Pharaoh who would exploit slaves in order to stage Moses’ grand Exodus from Egypt? And why? So people would know God was behind Moses’ success?

The Pharaoh is a pawn that God utilizes in the manner He sees fit, even if it means the death of a toddler. Ancient Egypt was run by divine kingship, so because someone was placing themselves on a higher pedestal than God, the tragedies that befell on the Pharaoh were expected. It sets an example that everyone who considers themselves above God will face punishment. To allow people to witness those consequences, the Pharaoh is set as an example by suffering the plague and the collapse of his kingdom. The Pharaoh comes into God’s world to suffer, even though the life he knows solely revolves around the expectations of royalty. He never experiences anything outside of the kingship realms, nor realizes the faults within kingdom’s system. He is the pharaoh who can never be anything or anyone else outside of his role.

Final Thoughts on JUDAS #2

I’m just as floored as I was when I read the first issue. I’ve been jittery since last month waiting on JUDAS #2, and hoo boy, it did not disappoint! It blows my mind to have Satan give me a run-down on those who succumbed to Judas’ fate. Satan spills some major tea about God and Jesus. I loved it because it expands on the whole “there are two sides to every story.” Loveness wonderfully executed Judas’ side in Jesus’ and God’s plans, and now he does it again with those he included. It makes me consider most of what I learned and how it was taught to me.

AMERICAN GODS and the Corporation of Faith

I remember the story of Moses from Sunday school. Most of the teachers were, of course, nuns. They told my class all about these radical and fearful tales of Satan, the Pharaoh’s cruelty, and so on. I can understand now the strict bias they carried, which I was unaware of when I was a kid. Loveness dishes out the idea the Pharaoh’s heart hardens because of God so he could refuse Moses. Honestly, the concept Loveness provides has me so shook. It opens a lot of food for thought for the “other side” of things. I’m eager for the next issue and the kind of content Loveness will be bringing in JUDAS #3.

Catch the newest issue of JUDAS #2, out January 10, 2018, here!

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