29 Jan 2008

Graphic Perception: THEREFORE REPENT!

Review by Matt C

Writer: Jim Munroe
Art: Salgood Sam
IDW $14.99

I’ll admit this isn’t the kind of thing I’d normally read. Although I do wander from the mainstream on occasion I tend to stick to genres I know I love – I guess I play it safe to a certain degree. This book caught my eye in the pages of Previews though; the premise was particularly enticing, dealing with the aftermath of the Rapture. After hordes of Christians have floated upwards into the great beyond, what becomes of those left behind?

I was brought up a Catholic and while the beliefs didn’t stick with me as I grew older I retained a healthy interest in the mythology of the Bible, particularly the darker elements; the fire and brimstone from the Old Testament, the apocalyptic events discussed in the book of Revelation. In comics I’ve often enjoyed various writers playing with religious concepts and iconography, (Mark Millar’s Chosen; Tomasi’s Light Brigade; Ennis’s Chronicles Of Wormwood, and – obviously – Preacher) so, while a book by more leftfield creators wouldn’t regularly find its way onto my shopping list, with Therefore Repent! I found it difficult not to give in to temptation.

Having finished it in one sitting, I did feel somewhat dissatisfied. I can’t deny that Jim Munroe and Salgood Sam are two very talented individuals, but I guess what I had in my mind after reading the pitch – what I was really looking for – was something light years away from what Therefore Repent! delivered. Which isn’t to say it’s not good, it’s just not really my cup of tea.

It’s plain to see that a lot of thought has gone into creating this post-Rapture world, but while the focus was on a young couple (Raven & Mummy) I found myself wanting to know what was going on outside their relationship and their locale. My frustration in this respect was amplified when, as the book neared its conclusion, the narrative seems to skip over a lot of the juicy details and events involving the survivors fighting back against their angelic oppressors. That’s the part of this fictional environment that appeals to me but it was clear that Munroe was more interested in internal rather than external conflicts. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a difference in tastes.

Sam’s black & white art was very satisfying with a distinctive sense of realism that encompassed the more fantastical elements. There were some striking, memorable images, from the angelic GI’s ready to parachute to Earth, to the reveal following Raven’s removal of her mask.

I can’t deny that I was drawn into Raven and Mummy’s relationship to some extent, and both the dialogue and visuals conveyed their emotional states very well. The magical elements were less appealing to me, but then I can’t say I’ve ever been especially fond of contemporary tales of magic.

There’s a niche audience out there for this graphic novel, and while it may not be up my street I hope it gains the attention it deserves because both Munroe and Sam are talents worth investigating. Therefore Repent! may not be something for everyone but it will be something special for someone. 6/10

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