Writer/Artist: Tzvi Lebetkin
Release Date: All three issues are on sale NOW!
Described by its creator Tzvi Lebetkin as “Bible stories for Atheists, Creationists, Rationalists & Rouges”, Biblical aims to provide an easily accessible interpretation of some of the most well-known religious tales, stripping away the ‘preaching’ commonly associated with these kinds of projects in favour of embracing what are – at the heart it – some truly epic dramatic stories.
At first glance, this is definitely a boldly ambitious project by Lebetkin. A lot of people who don’t necessarily consider themselves to be religious are likely to be instantly put off by the mere phrase “Bible stories”, and that’s a risk the creator himself is acutely aware of (Lebetkin that is, not – y’know – God). In spite of this however, he manages to strip away a lot of the heavy-handedness of these particular stories, leaving the basic message intact and – perhaps most importantly – providing the reader with some fairly gripping content in the process.
The first two issues of Biblical deal with King Nimrod and the Tower of Babel in a two-part story entitled ‘The Cruel and Holy King’. Stretching back to man’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, the story chronicles the rise of both Nimrod and his foolish tower, watching his power grow until the only thing left for him to do is to wage war the creator himself. Lebetkin displays a keen sense of drama here, particularly during the scene where Nimrod whips his followers into a frenzy with the simple chant of “one heart, one people” – a scene which is given added poignancy by a single panel of a swastika-laden Nazi rally, an impressively brave storytelling choice from the writer.
The third issue contains a longer standalone story entitled “The Black and White Rainbow”, which deals with the resentful relationship between the Dove and the Raven on board Noah’s Ark, and the latter’s apparent responsibility for bringing the sin of lust into the new world. While not quite as strong from a narrative point of view as Lebetkin’s previous story, this is still an impressively engaging read, and provides an undoubtedly unique perspective on the (somewhat overdone) story of Noah. Once again, Lebetkin displays his gift for neat visual Easter eggs here, including the ‘A’ in the dog’s bark that heralds the arrival of lust being marked as a makeshift ‘anarchy’ symbol. This story also leads directly into the next Biblical tale – Jonah and the Whale – and given the strong start to this series, I definitely can’t wait to see what Lebetkin cooks up for that particular story.
Without wanting to be overly critical however, the weakest aspect of Biblical is most definitely the artwork, with some occasionally rough-looking panels and facial expressions detracting slightly from the overall narrative. By Lebetkin’s own admission though, he isn’t an artist, but the one thing he does excel at is the visual structure of his storytelling. Yes, some of his faces are a little on the rough side, but the panel layout and the dramatic pacing of the stories are both top-notch, making Biblical a smooth, fluid reading experience.
Lebetkin speaks fairly candidly in his column at the end of the first issue about his desire to avoid Biblical becoming too ‘preachy’, and from where I’m sitting, he has managed to avoid that particular pitfall admirably, putting forth an inventive and engaging take on these familiar bible stories that never crosses the line in terms of trying to tell the reader what to think.
Overall, the most impressive aspect of Biblical is undoubtedly the sheer passion exuded by its creator. Lebetkin goes into great depth about his experiences entering the world of comics in his ‘wrap up’ columns at the end of each of the first two issues, giving us a deeper insight into his own motivations, struggles and personal philosophies. Thus far, Biblical has managed to weave two engaging tales that provide a brand new perspective on what could be seen by some as ‘boring’ Bible stories. An impressive undertaking, then, and one that comes highly recommended for fans of sequential storytelling on an epic scale.
As a special offer for Big Comic Page readers, you can grab yourself the first three issues of Biblical for just $1.99 by CLICKING HERE.