Review: 'Esther' is Easily the Highest-Quality Christian Comic Bill Has Ever Read
Have you ever read a book that you loved but then it’s adapted into another type of media and they just don’t do it justice? As a Christian and as a pastor that’s how I’ve felt about the vast majority of the adaptations of the Bible that I’ve ever seen. I’ve been waiting for one that really impresses me. With this comic I’ve found that.
This comic is released by Kingstone Media, a relatively new comic studio that has set as its official company goal the lofty aspiration of being the Marvel of Christian comic books. I’m a huge Marvel fan myself who reads tons of and has reviewed many Marvel Comics, so I am happy to say that, for this issue at least, they have hit their mark. And to reach that goal they’ve gone the most direct route possible: Both the writer, Ben Avery, and artist, Javier Saltares, have worked on Marvel Comics in the past and it shows. This is easily the highest-quality Christian comic I’ve ever read. I’ve rated other Bible comics well (and others not so well), but honestly this flies by them. It’s not even a contest.
This issue tells the story, straight from the Bible, of the book of Esther. It is the story of an Israelite woman who becomes queen in a foreign land only to get caught up in intrigue in the castle and has to risk her life to save her people. When I say that this issue takes its story straight from the Bible I mean that they stick faithfully to the story, something that many other Bible adaptations frustratingly don’t bother to do. By that I don’t mean they portray it overly rigidly. Rather it captures all of the key aspects of the story respectfully while also elaborating just enough to bring out the emotion and drama in the story. And along with that one of the features that Kingstone has in their Bible comics is that they include a scripture reference on the bottom of many of the pages so that you can look up exactly where in the Bible that part of the story is coming from.
To be honest, Esther is a book of the Bible I never found especially interesting but nonetheless writer Ben Avery and artist Javier Saltares put together an issue I read quickly and thoroughly enjoyed. The art you see here is an example of the quality of Saltares’ work on every page. Many smaller studios fall a little short on quality somewhere along the lines, whether on pencils, or colours, or even simply the paper quality, but this book holds up against comics from the big two on each of those levels. Saltares’s characters show gripping and intense emotion in their expressions that contributes to the drama of the story and his background and landscape images set the scene and where appropriate are even beautiful.
I rarely specifically comment on the colours in a comic but in this case I have to. Saltares’ work on pencils is excellent but Ben Prenevost’s work on colours is fantastic and really brings it all together. Again, quality-wise it could easily have come from Marvel or DC.
Obviously in one way I’m biased in favour of comics based on the Bible because I am a pastor but in another I am also harder on them in some ways then others might be. If I see an inaccuracy or quality that doesn’t do the Bible justice it bugs me. In this case though as I read the comic it left me wishing that Hollywood could do this level of quality and accuracy in their takes on the Bible.
This is a book to pick up. Even if you’ve never read the book of Esther in the Bible before, even if you have never heard of the story of Esther before, you’ll enjoy this one. In fact, you might especially enjoy it then, as the whole story will be new and unexpected to you. For telling an ancient story in a fresh and compelling way and with fantastic artwork I happily give Esther