Adam Chamberlin is a soldier of God. He’s a happy foot soldier in the army of purity, preaching virginity and a godly life to anyone who will listen to him. And Adam is a pure soul, suffused by a pureness of spirit and calm that translates into raw charisma. People are attracted to him, even beautiful girls, but he resists all temptation. After one of his “Save Yourself” sessions, Adam even tells a girl who propositions him, “I am totally flattered by your offer. But I am not the one for you. You will know him when you meet him with your heart and not your lust.” And the girl believes what Adam says, because he really means it with all his heart and soul. He believes he’s blessed, so he is blessed.
Unfortunately, Adam is living in denial of the evil and worldly ways that surround him. His mother and stepfather are professional televangelists who care more about how Adam can help their ratings than they do about Adam’s message. Meanwhile, his brother is a stoner, his sister is a tattooed rebel with unspecified troubles that are forcing her to leave town, and his cousins are rough-spoken men who hang out with exotic dancers. And, most distressing of all, his girlfriend, on an African Peace Corps trip, is about to make international news. Against all this temptation and evil, how can Adam stay pure?
As this issue ends, Adam is standing on the precipice. Will the cruel reality of the real world cause Adam to fall from grace, or will he be able to resist temptation and become an even more exemplary example of a purity of mind and spirit? Can Adam’s faith survive the cruelty and evil that exists in the world, or will it begin to eat his soul? I know how I would feel if I lived through what Adam experienced, but I’ve never been in the state of grace that Adam lives in. He could go either way, and this first issue gives only a small clue as to which way he’ll go.
Give Steven Seagle a lot of credit for creating a fascinating dilemma for his lead character. This is a man who’s clearly come to conclusions that have served him well, but which also seem to sow the seeds of his own destruction. The fact is that Adam is actually a quite admirable character at the beginning of this issue. He’s a truly happy man, who is happy in the way that only a very religious young man can be. Who wouldn’t want a completely happy life, as Adam lives? Unfortunately, that happiness seems to have come at the price of not truly experiencing the world around him. Which way will Adam go? Can he maintain his values, or will reality take its unfortunate toll?
Becky Cloonan’s art is a nice fit for this book. I especially liked the increasing desiccated look of Adam as the issue progressed. The man who begins the issue with a pure look, with perfect hair and grooming, has by the end of the issue become a disheveled man who looks like the world is falling down all around him, a man who looks like he has literally had a hell of a week.
This is one of those very unique first issues that give no indication of how the series might play out. This could become another Preacher, or it could become something very different and unique. I can’t wait to see in what direction American Virgin goes.