Chronicles of Wormwood (a review)
You know, I was really hoping to finish Preacher by now so I could review it. I didn’t though. Because I’m an ADD idiot with my comic reading habits. However, I did manage to finish another series Garth Ennis wrote that also has magic, religious criticism, dick jokes, and bromance.
Chronicles of Wormwood was a series written by Ennis and was published by Avatar Press from 2006 to 2007. It’s technically two mini-series with a one-shot sandwiched between them with three different artists. This series is essentially the bastard love-child of Preacher and Hellblazer, both of which Ennis worked on. I would say that the only way this series could be any more Ennis-y is if it had a soldier character, but a muscly Catholic eunuch monk assassin does show up to face f*** the protagonist.
You read that correctly.
The series follows Danny Wormwood, a TV executive who also happens to be the antichrist. Rather than bring about the apocalypse like his father Satan and God wants him too, he’d rather leave Earth be and just live a normal life (mostly to spite his dad). So, he spends his days producing provocative television shows, hanging out with his best friend Jay a.k.a. Jesus (who’s black), keeping his horny talking rabbit well supplied with carrots, and trying to be a good boyfriend to his long-term girlfriend, Maggie. Keyword for that last point is “try” because he’s kinda a s*** boyfriend.
Unfortunately for him, his father refuses to leave him be and even the Pope is works with him to bring about the apocalypse. The only thing Danny has going for him is that he has the power to change one thing a day. . . It’s not much of an ability but it’s at least something when you’re going up against Satan himself.
Like most of his works, Ennis takes great care in humanizing his main characters. Danny Wormwood is a bastard. However, he has moments of vulnerability and when he f***s up, he genuinely wants to make things right again without using his powers. Even when he jeopardizes his relationship with Maggie by making an incredibly s***** choice, I couldn’t help but root for him to get better and have a happy ending.
The best part of the entire series, in my opinion, is Danny’s bromance relationship with Jay. As I mentioned above, Jay is Jesus but instead of going through the whole crucifixion thing again, he decided to be an activist and fight for actual social justice. Unfortunately, he got clocked on the head by the LAPD, ended up in a coma, and woke up with severe brain damage. Danny takes it onto himself to look after Jay and you can see the pain in his face seeing Jay like this. He remembers the chill, kind spirit who wanted to spread good in the world and it breaks his heart to see him as a hollow shell of a man. It’s a moving friendship that adds another layer to the story.
Like I mentioned, there were three different artists split up between the 2 mini-series and one shot. The first mini-series was illustrated by Jacen Burrows, one of my favorites. Again, I don’t know why, but his artwork is so damn satisfying to look at. Even scenes of hell are so mesmerizing and creative. Since I’ve already gushed about him in the past, I’ll just say 10/10, would love to see more. Next, we have the one shot done by Rob Steen and . . .
I mentioned back in my Lazarus Churchyard review that I’m usually pretty forgiving with art and I don’t like criticizing it. But honestly, the first thing I though when I opened the one shot was “CHIIIIIIINS!” Steen’s style is cartoony and it looks like he’s trying to mimic Burrows’ shading but failed miserably. All the proportions on the characters are off, especially the heads. There’s a secretary character that shows up who’s supposed to be hot but she looks like a bobble headed alien to me. Also, Steen’s style to exaggerate the chins makes characters like Jay look like a monkey. (Yikes.) However, because the one-shot bridges the gaps between mini-series, you guys are just gonna have to forgive the art here.
The last artist is Oscar Jimenez who did the second mini-series. I don’t particularly dig this style either because it looks like screen shots from one those tell-tale games but at least everyone is proportional. I’m guessing they went this style because the main climax takes place on the internet but it still treads a little too close to the uncanny valley to me.
Speaking of the second mini-series. . .
I consider the second mini-series as the weakest part of Chronicles of Wormwood but it’s not all bad. There are three stories in it, two of which are interesting. First, you have Maggie dropping the ball on Danny that she’s pregnant and Danny, scared s***less of possibly creating antichrist 2.0, tries to put on a brave face. Second, Jay starts regaining his cognitive functioning, demonstrated when he calls a TV host and has a full, conscious conversation with him. Both of these stories are intriguing and would have caused some excellent, organic emotional conflict for Danny. Sounds great! So, what’s the problem?
Pope f***ing Jacko.
Jacko was a side villain in the first mini-series, working with Satan to bring about the apocalypse for personal gain. He later dies in the one shot from AIDS and he was only ever a vehicle to criticize the Catholic Church. In the second mini-series, he’s the main villain trying to pull the strings from hell to gain political power on Earth. No, really. Not only does his ultimate plan not make any goddamn sense, but Jacko’s just corny and annoying here. He worked fine as an accessory for the bigger villains but terribly as the main one. Worst yet, his story takes away time from the two good stories that had such potential but were wasted on this f***ing Aussie! And just an fyi, I liked him fine in the first mini-series so this is not just character hate.
TL;DR, Ennis should have done something else.
Griping aside, I enjoyed the series. Most of the characters are complex and interesting and the overall premise is cool. And even when the second mini-series rolled over its ankle, I still liked parts of it. So long at the elderly Australian catholic midgets know their place, I’m a happy camper.
Next week: Transmetropolitan