Written by Marcus Ellinger
Cover rank: 8/10
Setting the tone right away with heavy blacks and gloomy grays, Judas #1 shows the infamous Judas somberly standing in front of the demons of hell with thorny vines in the foreground. The biblical tone is great and the subtle details are my favorite part. Even the way #1 of 4 is written 1:4 like a passage from the bible is a small clever way to emphasize the comics religious tone.
Best variant issue: 4/10
Cover B by Jeremy Bastian is the only variant I could find, inside the cover lists a third variant but I couldn’t find an image of it anywhere. So, Cover B wins by default. Bastians cover has some of the same biblical references but fails to capture the dark tone of cover A. Cover B is a gray and white image of Judas that looks more like a pencil drawing. It has more of a medieval feel making Judas look like a wizard rather than an apostle. The demons that look mysterious and threatening in cover A come across as almost cute pet dragons. Cover B is an interesting image but fails to have the ominous religious punch of cover A.
What I like:
Judas betraying Jesus for 30 silver coins resulting in the crucifixion is one of the most infamously villainous acts in the Bible. But, what if Judas never had a choice? Was he forced to fulfill a preordained destiny sealing his fate as a religious super villain for ever? What if Jesus knew that his own actions ensured this dark fate for Judas? Can a villain also be a victim? These are the questions Judas #1 tries to answer by exploring the mind of Judas Iscariot as he is condemned to hell for his sin. The questions Judas asks are creative and thought provoking, forcing you to consider an age old tale from a fresh perspective.
Right away there is a simple uncluttered quality to Judas #1 that I found instantly appealing. Jakub Rebelka’s art style stands out as a great fit for Judas’s religious theme, looking almost like stained glass at times. With so many subtle details I really enjoyed how well the imagery was able to tell such a clear story. Jeff Loveness’ concise and impactful writing adds to the clarity by not cluttering the imagery with unnecessary dialogue. One of my favorite parts of Judas is Rebelka and Loveness ability to compliment one another in a minimalist styles. Judas is a great example of less is more.
What I didn’t like:
This is a tough one, I really enjoyed Judas #1 from cover to cover. If I had to single out something it would be some of the action panels. I loved Judas’ simplistic style but, a couple of the action moments felt clumsy and lacked the fluidity of their build up. Complaining about one or two panels seems like such a small complaint that its hardly worth mentioning. I could see some people disagreeing with Judas’ taking liberties with religious content but I enjoyed its fresh point of view. I’m a big fan of a comic that makes you think and feel and Judas #1 definitely does that.
Judas #1 starts with the trading of the 30 silver coins for the information that would seal the fate of both Jesus and Judas. Judas places a noose around his neck, confused and filled with grief wondering if he ever had any control over his fate. In his final moments Judas prays for clarity but with no answer to his prayers Judas kills himself. The next time Judas opens his eyes he finds himself in a bleak gray hell. The noose replaced by the 30 silver coins strung together, a constant reminder of what he did. All this happens as a mysterious voice answers his questions and says ” Yes. This was always the end.” Its a great intense moment that sets the tone for the rest of the comic. It gave me chills and a smile at the same time, definitely my favorite of several great moments.
By the end of Judas #1 Judas is overwhelmed by the demons of hell and decides to pray once more to be saved. “The wicked flee” and Judas hears the voice once again, with an outstretched arm it says “Come. Follow me.” I said it was good from cover to cover, again chills and a smile. The image of the pale ghostly figure reaching to Judas is one of my favorite images in the comic. Once again saying so much with so little is a standout quality of Judas #1.
What I’m looking forward to:
I can’t wait to read the next Judas comic! I’m excited to see how Loveness and Rebelka will ultimately finish Judas’s journey in only 3 more issues. I’m looking forward to more intense intriguing moments that will make me feel something. I enjoy the idea of the Judas series and the questions it asks. Will we feel bad for Judas or was his fate deserved and who answered his prayers? Regardless of your religious views Judas is a great comic that shouldn’t be missed.