I know, it’s not Christmas but this is where I am in my longbox.
Life Of Christ #1
Marvel Comics (February, 1993)
This was a co-production with Thomas Nelson Publishers. The copy I have was a special giveaway from CBN.“The Christmas Story” ADAPTATION: Louise Simonson GOSPEL SOURCES: Matthew & Luke PENCILER: Mary Wilshire INKER: Bill Anderson COLORIST: Tom Smith LETTERER: Bill Oakley EDITOR: Glenn Herdling
From what I can tell, only two Life Of Christ comics were produced, one for Christmas and one for Easter, which we’ll look at tomorrow. Anybody reading this should at least be aware enough of the Nativity that I don’t have to summarize the story. Instead we’ll focus on the presentation itself.
The comic starts with Zechariah’s visitation by Gabriel and losing his voice. Then it goes to Elizabeth’s pregnancy six month later as Gabriel said. There is also a boy that was added to show Zechariah loved kids and wanted a child of his own. The Wise Men later also get a boy sidekick named Terah. They are not in the bible but do a good job serving as an entrance for non-Bible readers to the events. At least they didn’t give John and Mary a talking cat to go around with them or something.The only one that changes something, albeit minor, is that it isn’t the inn owner who offers the stable to John and Mary but his daughter who takes pity on them. The innkeeper is never shown. Minor detail but considering how close Simonson’s version stays to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke it stands out for me. Even the shepherds in the field have a kid hanging around.
The dialog is a bit more modern and Simonson seems to be going with the “they will say I have been blessed” version over “blessed among women”. It depends on which pronunciation you use but I would make the case that both is accurate, it’s just a question of which interpretation Mary was using when talking to Elizabeth later on. Simonson takes the opportunity to explain what myrrh is, but now why they’re giving a perfume uses for embalming the dead to a child (a metaphor to what that child will grow up and do for all peoples in the world). She also explains the use of swaddling clothes, but just refers to it as bands of cloth by having Mary try to calm the child. One misstep is having the Wise Men visit them at the stable when current thought is that they actually met them at home in Nazareth, but the comic has them staying a longer time in Bethlehem.
As a bonus, when the angels appear to the shepherds they put in music sheets for “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”. Unnecessary? Maybe, or at least where they were placed, but I like the addition.
The artwork is quite good, especially when you remember this is a 90s comic from Marvel. For it’s time (and I mean the pre-computer coloring time) the scenes with the angels are beautiful.
I’m not sure how easy it would be to track this comic down. If you want a good comic about the birth of Jesus your best bet might be to go with Billy Tucci’s recent A Child Is Born, but if you come across this comic (the regular, non-CBN version has a different cover from the one seen here) I highly recommend it at a fair price. It’s a very good telling of Christ’s birth, and I’m even more impressed if Simonson isn’t a Christian herself.