Jesus and the Antichrist are best friends. One is the son of the Satan and the other the son of God. Both have their problems and both have given up their respective destinies to pursue a life of normality here on Earth. The Devil wants his son to start the Armageddon and God wants his son to sacrifice and martyr himself once again. Of course things are not that easy as Jesus and Wormwood have become accustomed to their lives and do not wish it all to end. Wormwood is actually a pretty nice guy and sure, he has a little bit of a temper once in a while – he is the Antichrist – but for the most part, he is a good person who does good things for people.
Garth Ennis takes some of the familiar tropes from the bible, including the Book of Revelations and just turns everything on its head into a fairly normal tale of fathers and sons. Well, maybe not so normal. Having the story take place in current times is a great idea and having Wormwood run a cable television station is quite perfect in a number of ways. Even though Wormwood tries his best to be the best person he can be, it is quite humourous when he does something that is more akin to his true nature when his temper flares up. Another little gem Ennis throws in the mix are spirits that are too strong and too restless to remain in the afterlife for long and come back to Earth such as Judas and Joan of Arc with whom Wormwood is having an affair with behind his girlfriend’s back.
Aside from the little things that take place in the day to day, Wormwood and his father have a strained relationship. After all, his father did rape his mother as a goat, but as Satan is quick to point out, if he had not have done so, Wormwood would not have been born. There are many little bits of wry humour worked into the book by Ennis that make it an enjoyable read and turn the book from what would have been a serious tone into one more akin to a family drama like Parenthood or 7th Heaven, albeit with a little sex, cursing, gore and nudity. The devil just wants what is best for his son, like many fathers do, though if that something just so benefits him as well… all the better. And if Satan must use Wormwood’s best pal Jesus to do it, then so be it. But where is God in amongst all this family drama, as he would seem to be an integral part of the story? He is not doing much as it seems, except wanking off which is an in-joke by Ennis, being the atheist that he is and makes perfect sense when you think about it.
The camaraderie between Jesus and Wormwood is great, if not so outspoken or boisterous. It is a quiet friendship, based upon mutual circumstances and even respect. Perhaps it is because they have more in common with each other than anyone else that the friendship works, but they have each other’s backs if nothing else. It is interesting that Wormwood holds his friendship with Jesus more important than that with his dad. Many people can relate to be sure, and it adds an intriguing element to the story that perhaps seemed doubtful to work but does.
No matter your religion or convictions, the book is a satire and in the end, a really well-written story that can be enjoyed by anyone. It features great art by Jacen Burrows and could have been published by anyone as it is a really great story but just so happens to have been published by Avatar giving it a stigma it truly does not deserve. Avatar has been publishing some of the best books for the last five to ten years now, it just so happens that they are mature reader books. Do yourself a favour and check out most of their titles including, but not limited to The Chronicles of Wormwood. You owe it to yourself.
5 out of 5