Most people who know of the story of Jesus wonder what he did between his birth and his baptism. The four Gospels of the New Testament give few hints. About the only story we get comes from Luke, who writes of a 12-year-old Jesus talking in the temple.
The British press has described 'Chosen' as 'Spider-Man meets the Book of Revelation.' (Dark Horse Comics)
Chosen, by Mark Millar, is the new title under the Millarworld imprint at Dark Horse Comics. It tells the story of Jodie Christianson, a 12-year-old boy who discovers he is the return of Christ.
Jodie is a typical pre-teen: He curses, longs to see naked women and watches violent videos. (The comic is labeled for mature readers.) He lives with his parents, who have marital problems. He seems an average boy with normal urges and problems.
Things change, however, after a terrible accident—and one from which Jodie walks away without a scratch. In the hospital we get the first hint that he is … different. A hospital janitorial worker tells him, "The fate of our souls lies in your hands, little prince." It is here that the boy begins to be confronted with the evidence of who he is.
We then see Jodie all grown up. He's dressed in a business suit, has followers, and is on his way to Israel. But the fact that we don't know anything more acts as a tease for the rest of the story.
Chosen uses comic-book conventions to update "the greatest story ever told." It is paced like a superhero comic, in that our main character, average in most ways, can only be delivered through supernatural ability. This issue, being the first in a series of three, also leaves us with a cliffhanger ending.
Millar holds to much of the doctrine of Christ and his Coming, but there is a problem.
Doctrinal purists will bristle at the characterization of Jodie. He curses--and, yes, many boys his age do that--but the behavior points not to his sinlessness, but to his fallen nature. Many churchgoers will therefore see Jodie as a sinner, which is problematic if he's the return of Christ.
Millar tries to make the case that his character has the pedigree to be the Christ, but he omits a sinless nature. If Millar wants to appeal to Christian doctrine to help make a case for Jodie as the reincarnation, but then makes the boy an obvious sinner, the characterization is weaker. As it is, it's a stretch to see Jodie as the Christ. How does one reconcile Christ being an ordinary person?
To be fair, this is the first issue of three. Will Millar deal with this issue? I hope so. We'll stay tuned.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
Also read our reviews of other graphic novels, including Testament and Samson.