By Greg Lickteig — “In my experience, force usually fails. Of course, mercy often fails, too - but it does so more pleasantly.”
Nothing like a biblical ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ sucker punch to make the existential downward spiral of Second Coming #2 even more poignant. In a culture that loves to dissect and investigate what it means to be a superhero in modern times, Second Coming isn’t shying away from asking what it means to be a flawed being with the power of a god and the foresight of Mr. Magoo.
By now, readers are likely aware of the drama around this series from Ahoy Comics, dating back almost to its initial unveiling as a Vertigo title with DC Comics last year. In the wake of outrage from religious groups, DC and the creators decided it was best the book look for a new publisher, which it found in Ahoy Comics. This, it turns out, is nothing short of life imitating art. Through two issues, Second Coming is evolving into a story about looking for acceptance, be it from a city of people you protect or an extremely overbearing father with the ultimate complex.
In this second issue, we’re treated to more of the banter and hijinks that hooked readers in the debut. Sunstar and Jesus are still gallivanting around Urban City in order to have Jesus learn what it means to be a real man of action. Things quickly get more complicated than anticipated for Sunstar, who’s already struggling with the inability to bear children with his wife because of physiology. He also made an awful impression with the adoption representative, and he now finds out his wife is being harassed by an oyster thief who she exposed during a segment for the local news station where she’s a reporter.
Sunstar is starting to feel the pressure, and things seem to be out of his control. The last thing he needs to come home to is a God who’s dissatisfied with the results of his effort to toughen up his Son. After a brief exchange, wherein Sunstar attempts to explain to God that maybe He’s made a mistake in choosing him to help his Son (not a wise tactic, no matter what your spiritual leanings be), Sunstar is teleported? Whisked off? Ascended into? Whatever the term may be, he arrives in Heaven with God to have a divine intervention, of sorts, and the Big Man explains that while Sunstar has made mistakes in the past, the important thing is to learn from them and keep moving...to be a man of action.
Returning to Earth with a newfound perspective, Sunstar, with Jesus in tow, obtains the supposed identity of the oyster thief from a fanboy security guard at the news station where his wife works and sets out to handle this problem, only to find out too late he was given the wrong address, causing him so subsequently threaten and destroy an innocent man’s life.
This was really a fantastic follow up to Second Coming #1. Writer Mark Russell does a wonderful job making you empathize with Sunstar and the predicament he’s weathering. Not only would it be overwhelming to find out there’s an Almighty Being, but said Almighty Being is now asking for help with his Son. And he’s not getting the results he’s wanting?! Russell really makes you feel for Sunstar, turning him into a relatable character, in spite of his superhero powers.
There were moments in this issue that were extremely poignant and earnest. We get a scene right before Sunstar extracts the info from the security guard where Jesus tries to reason with him by explaining that He too had been in this same moment of confusion and despair. He was tempted to take the easy way out, His faith put to the test. Jesus says to Sunstar that ‘The greatest temptation in the world isn’t to do evil, but the need to be seen doing good.’ Trying to get him to see that the purpose of all his great power is to help the citizens that put their trust in him every day, and not fall prey to the folly of vanity, of having people see you do those great deeds.
The art in this book is also incredible, both the ethereal heaven scenes and the happenings on earth. Richard Pace draws the heaven scenes solo, deploying such a wild and vivid interpretation of Heaven with its sprawling, otherworldly cities and floating whales swimming freely through the sky. He then gets an assist from inker Leonard Kirk and colorist Andy Troy for the scenes on earth, making them feel more rooted in reality in a way that really exposes the grittiness of Urban City.
Overall: This book could’ve suffered from something many controversial comics suffer from after a debut: hype for the first issue wears off and exposes the book as subpar. Second Coming #2, however, is a sophomore issue that maintains a unique story while also creating new unique directions. 8.9/10
Second Coming #2
Writer: Mark Russell
Artists: Richard Pace
Inker (Earth Pages): Leonard Kirk
Colorist (Earth Pages): Andy Troy
Letterer: Rob Steen
Publisher: Ahoy Comics
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Greg Lickteig is an avid comic book fan based in Kansas City, Missouri. He can also be found rambling on the First Issue Club Podcast and has lost 3 pizza eating contests. He owns a cat, but doesn’t want to talk about it.