Comic Review: Clive Barker’s ‘Next Testament #1’

Clive Barker’s Next Testament #1
Written by Clive Barker and Mark Miller
Illustrated by Haemi Jang
Lettered by Steve Wands
Covers by Goni Montez, Ben Oliver, and Clive Barker
Boom! Studios
Release Date: May 29, 2013
Cover Price: $3.99

“If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.” –Mikhail Bakunin

Clive Barker and Mark Miller present a deep and philosophical twist in the horror genre by establishing that very scenario in their Next Testament #1 from Boom! Studios.

What if the God that millions believe is their benevolent creator was actually a selfish and bloodthirsty egomaniac? What if that bloodthirsty egomaniac was released from a prison that had trapped him for thousands of years? There would be some serious trouble, you can guarantee that. That trouble is the basis for the theologically-heavy plot that Barker and Miller have set in motion in the first issue of this ongoing series.

From the perspective of a horror fan, Next Testament #1 is unsettling in so many ways. The one facet that rises above all others is that the reader can relate because the setting is so familiar. The story takes place in the modern day “real world” and the monster set on inflicting unspeakable punishment on all of us is God, an entity that we thought we had a pretty good idea of, but were tragically mistaken.

How exactly do you defend yourself from something with nearly unlimited powers? Yes, he was imprisoned once, so we can assume that it could happen again, but there’s a lot of suffering and strife about to go down before someone figures out how to stop him. That’s the facet of the tale that gets your pulse pounding.

Beautifully colorful and disturbing artwork from Haemi Jang (Hellraiser: The Road Below) helps to drive home the feeling of eerie attraction the reader develops for the villainous portrayal of God in the series. If Barker and Miller were hoping to pull their audience out of its comfort zone with Next Testament, teaming with Jang for art was what erased any doubt that they’d be successful at accomplishing just that.

This and forthcoming issues hint that God’s wrath is just getting started. If you’re curious about how divine power can be flipped on its head and turned against humanity, I suggest you pick up the series while it’s still young.

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