Review: 'Eternity' is a Parable of Jesus wrapped in a Fantastic Comic Coating
A trilogy of movies are reportedly being made out of just one short story that J.K. Rowling wrote, which I’m sure will require a lot of expanding on the original material. In a similar way this graphic novel is an expansion on just a few verses from the Bible. Randy Alcorn, the author of many Christian books, has stepped into the world of comics for the first time with this issue as writer. He turns one of Jesus’ parables into 130 comic pages.
This is the third comic I’ve reviewed from Kingstone Media but Eternity is different from the previous Esther and Jonah in a couple of ways. Those previous two were both single issue comics as opposed to this being a full graphic novel and they were also both direct and accurate adaptations of Bible stories whereas this one uses a Biblical parable for its framework — but the bulk of it is expansion created entirely by Alcorn. Amongst Alcorn’s books is a New York Times best seller called Heaven. Like that book, this comic explores the Biblical descriptions of the afterlife.
The actual Biblical parable gives a very brief story of a man who is very rich but cruel and another man who is very poor but righteous, and the afterlife and judgment that comes upon each of them. Alcorn expands the narrative in a variety of ways, not only elaborating on the relationship between the rich and poor man but on each of their individual lives. He fleshed out the story by adding friends and family for each of them and even inserted a murder mystery element to it.
Overall Alcorn’s writing is excellent. I would never have guessed that this was his first venture into writing comic books but evidently he found a way to translate his experience writing books into this medium as well. Alcorn expands on the original Biblical story but still stays true to the heart of it, something far too often done poorly with Bible adaptions. The dialogue is great and draws you into the story. There’s also minimal and strategic use of narrative boxes and just a few pages left intentionally word-free so that the art speaks for itself.
And the art does speak. It’s vivid and intense. It immerses you in the story and gets you considering what you have always pictured Heaven and Hell as looking like. Like his work on Kingstone’s Esther, Saltares’s work here is beautiful. The expressiveness of his characters helps you feel the emotion yourself. He makes great use of close ups for that while also using wide and varied angles to capture the action and drama.
Also like the Esther comic Prenevost is again on colours and really adds to the look of the story. It’s sharp with great use of lighting as Heaven has an ethereal glow and Hell is dim and crimson without coming across as cliche.
One nit I could pick here is that, while I don’t have a problem with taking a parable and fleshing it out into a whole story (particularly since it’s done really well), I wish it were stated at the beginning that that is what they were doing. Because I already know the Bible passage this is based on, I recognized what they were doing right away but others might not and could easily assume that all of it is from the Bible when really only the framework of the story is while very large portions of the rest of the story are entirely fictional additions by Alcorn.
One last thing to note is that Eternity has a couple of pages at the end where Alcorn talks about why he included certain elements in the story as he did by explaining his reasoning from the Bible. It’s an informative and interesting touch.
If you like comics set that are period pieces rather than always superheroes this is a good one to check out. Along with that, you’ll learn about one of Jesus’ parables in a fun and visually exciting way.