You might recall a recent episode of The Meaning of Life which caused quite a stir. At the end of his interview with Stephen Fry, Gay Byrne asked the question he asks all his interviewees: if God exists what would you say to him? Eloquently, Fry made the case that, given the state of the world, if God exists then he is a monstrous psychopath. In Next Testament, Clive Barker makes pretty much the same argument.
This isn’t the first time Barker has had his name on a comic book, as there are a plethora of comic adaptations of his books and movies. He has also created original stories for the mini-series, Primal, and the one shot, Seduth.
Next Testament, however, sees him more involved in the creative process than ever before. He is the principal writer and Barker fans will agree his style, characters and ideas are everywhere in the comic.
In Next Testament, Clive Barker essentially asks the question, what if God really exists? His answer is Wick. Julian Demond very literally finds God in the desert when he digs up a pyramid and, by destroying it, frees Wick, the self-proclaimed ‘god of colours’. In the two volumes of the comic so far released we go on a journey with Julian and Wick during which the omnipotent being proves himself to be a genocidal maniac. Wick claims to be the God of the Bible and he delivers death to the world in Biblical proportions – planes falling from the sky, plague, and entire populations wiped out in a second. Wick is possibly the most evil character Barker has ever unleashed from his imagination. By the end of the second volume, things couldn’t get any darker but there is hope in the form of Tristan and Elsepeth, a young couple who are on a mission to destroy Wick.
In writing this comic, Barker was aided by Mark Miller. Just how he did this is hard to know, which proves how well they worked together but, again, the comic is very much Barker’s. It is his vision and the characters, especially Wick and Julian, are classic Barker. The artwork is handled by Haemi Jung and he has done a very nice job of it. His portrayal of Wick is totally convincing. As the ‘god of colours’ he must have enjoyed bringing the character to life on the page.
This leads us to the question why is Wick the god of colours? How does it relate to him being the omnipotent deity of the Bible? Hopefully, in the volumes to come these questions will be answered as we learn more about this entity.
This is darkest work to come from the pen of Clive Barker for a long time, both inside and outside of comic books. If you are a fan of Barker you’ll love it. If you are new to his work it’s as good a place to start as any. There has always been a question mark over Clive Barker and the comics medium: can he write an original comic instead of being just a consultant or an ideas man? Next Testament provides the answer and it is a resounding yes.
The first two volumes of Next Testament are published by Boom! Studios.