COMICS: A CHILD IS BORN "BRIMS WITH LIFE AND BEAUTY" IN A SUMPTUOUS RETELLING OF THE NATIVITY

26th November, 2011

KRIS BATHER

A Child Is Born

"There have been Jesus-centred comics before, but by far this stands above them all. It’s not all browns and dull, dusky colours. Thanks to Mounts this is brimming with life and beauty..."

Writer/artist Billy Tucci is known throughout the comics industry for his success with his own creation Shi, as well as more recent work including 2008’s Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion. That mini-series was inspired by an actual World War II event and cemented Tucci’s reputation as a creator who does his research, and a lot of it. That same focus continues with this new 32 page comic.

Based on the accounts of Matthew and Luke about Christ’s birth, A Child is Born is an unabashed love letter to Jesus, and comes from newly formed publisher Apostle Arts.

Those who’ve seen Tucci’s detailed and realistic artistry before will not need convincing that this is a lusciously rendered book.

Based on historical accuracy, everything here looks like it should, from lambs to Jerusalem’s Holy Temple and best of all, the people including the demure beauty of Mary to Herod’s jealous anger. Tucci’s use of models and props has paid off, but the pictures here never look static or devoid of life and Tucci’s interpretation of the angelic messengers who visit Mary, Joseph and the three gift giving travellers is suitably awe inspiring.

Paul Mounts’ colours bring splendid light to Tucci’s already vivid visuals. The combination of these two talents makes sure that every page is striking. There have been Jesus-centred comics before, but by far this stands above them all. It’s not all browns and dull, dusky colours. Thanks to Mounts this is brimming with life and beauty, most notably in the double page spread of the holy birth (which would make a great poster), or even King Herod’s brief appearance in which the candle light gives him a truly sinister appearance. Simply put, there’s not a dull sequence between the covers. This truly is a beautiful book and needs to be enjoyed more than once.

The story is one of the world’s most well known, but Tucci does a splendid job of summarising it sufficiently and best of all, it should make readers race to the Bible to read more about this most pivotal era in our history.  Really, this one-shot could’ve been double or triple its size, but the birth of Jesus is an obvious place to start and I hope it means more Biblical comics from Tucci in the future. Anyone who reads this will certainly hunger for more.

Using Scripture as a narrative platform rather than quoting lengthy passages makes good sense, and the dialogue and narration all feels of the time. Beginning with the three astrologers (or “wise men”) and their discovery of the Star of Bethlehem and moving on to Mary’s encounter with the angel with the good news, her husband Joseph’s reaction and ultimately the birth of Christ makes this a swift tale.

The last few pages contain a written piece by lawyer and The Star of Bethlehem documentary maker Rick Larson about the proof of the Star, and how he helped Tucci’s accurate portrayal of it within A Child is Born. Tucci himself says in his closing letter as a response to his son who asked why his next project is on Christ and not superheroes that, “Jesus is the greatest superhero ever to walk the earth.” This beautiful comic is testament to that.

Billy Tucci’s A Child Is Born is available now from your local comic shop, or from Apostle Art’s website. This is a great Christmas gift, and bulk orders for churches are also available.

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