If you have read the Bible, one fact is certain: It is not rated G. Many of its stories deal with very mature subjects.
The art work in "The Bible: Eden" is good, but the content leaves something to be desired, says reviewer Mike Parnell.
IDW Publishing has printed a new hardbound comic entitled, The Bible: Eden. In its pages, Scott Hampton paints visuals for Keith Giffen and Dave Elliot's script based on the account of creation and the fall of humanity given in Genesis 1-4.
The artwork in this comic is beautiful. We see the full expanse of creation, which is shown being done by the hand of God. This is an anthropomorphic device taken from references to God's hand in the Old Testament. There are scenes of the creation of light, the sky, the earth and the animals. Then we see the creation of Adam out of the dust of the earth. If you have ever seen the Bible story books in the dentist's office, you have seen this.
What you have not seen is the nudity and sexuality of the story. We see Adam and Eve as they are created: naked. There are scenes of sexual union between the two. It is not pornographic, but it is explicit.
The beginnings of this comic were in the pages of now defunct Penthouse Comix. IDW Publishing has taken the already published pages and added the unpublished ones to bring the first story arc to completion. Based on the material in the comic and the way it is being marketed, IDW Publishing is going to print more stories of the Bible, with this being the first of an ongoing series.
Looking at the story, Giffen and Elliot use verses from Genesis to introduce the chapters, which follow the biblical story faithfully. The reason given for the fall of Adam and Eve is the pursuit of wisdom. The serpent tempts Eve to become like God and says that if she eats the fruit she will be wise. The eating of the fruit brings a rush of understanding and release; Hampton makes Adam and Eve look like they have taken a narcotic. Then come remorse, regret and finally expulsion from Eden.
The story concludes with the birth of Cain; there is no mention of Abel. We only see the birth of the child, and the story ends.
Then, the story shifts to the conception of Jesus. This is also explicit. We see Mary nude, which made me wonder what use this was to the story. Why did the creators see fit to illustrate the story with a nude Mary in the embrace of what appears to be an angel?
Included in the comic is a series of painted scenes from other stories in the Bible, which were done as proposal pieces for this story. They are well done, but also include scenes of nudity.
This vision of the Bible is no-holds-barred. It is printed for an audience that I have yet to discern. The publisher's Web site calls this "the original tale of innocence, temptation and lust." This is a strange way to describe this story; of all the sins that this story portrays, lust is not one I readily think of.
What it misses is the story's ability to explain to us how we got to where we are. The story lacks context, which is important for the uninformed reader.
The comic's cover says, "Everyone knows what happened in the Garden of Eden." Based on research by George Barna and others, that is not true. Many in our culture do not know the story of the Garden of Eden or what it means.
As beautiful as this comic is, it lacks some of the elements needed to make it part of the cultural discussion about faith and spirituality. The Bible: Eden misses the storytelling mark. Without the needed context, it's just a group of pictures.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
Also read our reviews of other graphic novels, including "Testament," "Samson," "Chosen" and "My Faith in Frankie."