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Battle Pope #3

Posted: Tuesday, October 25, 2005
By: Paul T. Semones



Writer/Artists: Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore

Publisher: Image Comics


I am a Christian. I believe Jesus Christ is real and powerful. Iím not a Catholic, but I do believe that the figurehead of the church that many of Christís followers look to for guidance is usually a decent man worthy of my respect. I also believe thereís an actual devil lurking about in the spirit realm, seeking whom he may devour.

All that said, I honestly went into Battle Pope #3 (having not read the previous two issues) with an open mind, willing to see what sort of statement an anti-believer was interested in making as he turned everything sacred on its head for laughs, adventure and hoped-for profit.

Well, I didnít find much. I could review this as a comic book, I suppose. Decent art, some witty jabs, a modestly fun and suspenseful plot as far as that goes.

But of course, thatís not whatís on my mind as I put the book down after the last page. I am struck by the utter mean-spirited, pointlessness of this blasphemy. Now, I fully recognize that a believer such as me is not the expected audience for this title. So Iím certainly not a suitable reviewer for the book on its own merits. Nor am I particularly interested in doing something dopey like organizing a boycott or calling James Dobsonís radio show and breathlessly telling his audience what horrible things are being published in the godless comic book industry today. Heck, Iíll even keep reading Marvel Team-Up, because Kirkman makes me laugh when heís not trampling on truths I hold dear.

But having read this issue, itís hard not to offer some commentary.

ďBlasphemyĒ is, of course, a harsh word, and probably not entirely useful when applied to a creator who is not interested in the things I hold as truths Ė which Kirkman, obviously, does not.

In fact, some things that are blasphemous may have alternative value as satire, and thus be at least useful as a poignant, dark reflection on possible failings in what a believer considers orthodoxy, told from the perspective of an outsider.

Battle Pope does not rise to the level of satire. Satire would have some underlying point. Battle Pope does not.

Kirkman seems to be interested in playing with the idea that Christ and the Church (as seen in the Pope) are virtuous. Letís see what happens when we turn that upside down?

So Kirkmanís Battle Pope is a cigar chomping, nun-raping hard ass fighter.

Jesus is a surfer bum weakling with little pluck in battle, a push-over wuss who decides itís best just to get comfortable being a crucifixion victim, because he obviously is powerless to prevent it.

Michael the Archangel is basically Wolverine without the moral center.

Curiously, the devil is still just as devilish as orthodoxy has always said he is.

Kirkman isnít playing with traditional views of the sacred for any underlying purpose: heís taking the part that is holy and making it profane, and taking the part that is profane and reveling in the creative freedom of keeping it that way.

Thereís no point here save making all things just various shades of wickedness. This is anti-hero comic storytelling taken to its literally ultimate extreme.

This is Robert Kirkman saying, ďGod, I dare you to exist. I dare you to throw me in hell. Go ahead. Make my day.Ē

If shaking your fist at God for its own sake is your thing, this will really float your boat.

Me? Iím going to go pray for cleansing.



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