Christian Justice Warriors petitioned DC Comics to pull Mark Russell and Richard Pace’s six-issue series called Second Coming, because they felt it blasphemed Jesus Christ. Shortly after the petition gained prominent visibility with more than 230,000 signatures, DC confirmed that the comic was being cancelled.
In the initial petition over on the Citizen Go website, it states…
“DC Comics is set to release an outrageous and blasphemous new series featuring Jesus Christ as the sidekick for an “all powerful” superhero.
“Let DC Comics know that this comic is inappropriate. It should be immediately pulled from their release schedule.
“According to Fox News, the “Second Coming” comic “reimagines why Jesus left earth the first time and is coming back again.” Author Mark Russell recently shared a bit about the concept behind his comic. He explained, “God was so upset with Jesus’s performance the first time he came to Earth, since he was arrested so soon and crucified shortly after, that he has kept him locked-up since then.”
“Can you imagine the media and political uproar if DC Comics was altering and poking fun at the story of Muhammad… or Buddha?
“This blasphemous content should not be tolerated. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. His story should not be ridiculed for the sake of selling comic books.”
The petition garnered more than 232,930 signatures as of the writing of this article, after being picked up by outlets like Fox News. It was also updated after DC cancelled the comic, with those who created the petition rejoicing that the comic had been cancelled.
Newsrama published an article on February 13th, 2019 reporting that DC had confirmed the cancellation of the six-issue run of Second Coming, which was supposed to debut on March 1st, 2019. The site stated…
“DC has informed retailers that the upcoming Vertigo series Second Coming has been canceled, and that “these issues will not be resolicited.”
“The publisher did not share the reason for the decision.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, they state that the creator of the comic, Mark Russell, explained why it was pulled and it had to do with him wanting the rights back from DC Comics and not that DC Comics did anything “untoward” to him.
The: DC/Vertigo’s cancellation of the orders for Second Coming, just so you know, DC did not do anything untoward to me. I asked for the rights back and they gracefully agreed. They’ve been a pleasure to work with and it will still be released, albeit with a different publisher.
— Mark Russell (@Manruss) February 13, 2019
Also, re: Second Coming, I want to thank everyone at Vertigo who’s gotten it to the point where it’s as good as it is. Specifically, I want to thank Molly, Maggie, and Mark for all their support and hard work. Wherever it ends up coming out, know that this is still your book.
— Mark Russell (@Manruss) February 13, 2019
The Hollywood Reporter attempted to mitigate the blame away from DC Comics in their report. However, that narrative was shattered when Russell was interviewed by Syfy.com on February 15th, 2019 where he revealed that the reason he asked for the rights back was because DC Comics pushed back the release date of the comic and kept asking for more and more censorship…
“It wasn’t because of any displeasure with DC or their editorial staff. It was just that they wanted to push the release date back to some undetermined point in the future and I had made some minor changes at their request, after which, I was warned that requests for more significant changes would probably be on the way. So I decided I would rather keep the story intact and remain true to the original vision and get into the hands of readers in a more timely fashion.”
The censorship requests were passed down after news spread around about the Citizen Go petition, which was amplified by Fox News.
Russell believes that it was a way for Fox to tap into the culture war to score a victory for the Religious Right, telling Syfy…
“The weird thing about the Fox News story was that it was published six months after Vertigo announced Second Coming. This is a pretty common tactic with Fox News. We were in the midst of a long government shutdown that most people blamed on Trump, Mueller was handing out indictments like chocolate on Easter, and nothing was looking particularly good for their political narrative. When that happens, as it often does, Fox likes to lean on culture war stories, both to change the subject and to rally the base around some manufactured outrage. The release of Second Coming wasn’t newsworthy to them until they needed it to be.”
According to the creator of the Citizen Go petition, however, it had nothing to do with Fox News or the culture war. Syfy reached out to Gregory Mertz, the campaign director for Citizen Go and Mertz explained that while they scored a victory with getting the comic book cancelled at DC Comics, they will continue to fight to keep Second Coming from being distributed by any publisher, big or small, because they believe that Jesus is real and should not be blasphemed within the pages of a comic book. Mertz stated…
“This was the right move by DC Comics. We’ll continue to fight the release of this comic book if it’s picked up by another publisher. Jesus is much more than a superhero. The signers of the petition believe that Jesus is real. The life of Jesus comes with a special message of hope and redemption. The comic portrays a false view our Savior. Jesus is not a failure. He was sent to the cross for our sins and everlasting salvation.”
However, Russell fired back that people are preemptively judging the book without really understanding what it’s about. He told Syfy…
“I think once people actually read the book, a lot of them will be embarrassed by how up in arms they were. It’s actually a very pro-Christ comic, as he’s the character who actually offers a meaningful alternative to violence. Superheroes tend to lean on violence as a solution because it’s what they’re good at. But drop-kicking someone into a volcano or throwing them through a plate-glass window only works for solving a very small percentage of human problems. The other 99.9% of problems require empathy and that’s the superpower that Christ brings to the table.”
Russell also gave his reasons for why the Religious Right targeted the book, claiming that it has to do with controlling the narrative of religion rather than what’s really taught in the Bible…
“[…] I think the religious fundamentalists and critics who are trying to stop Second Coming aren’t interested in protecting Christ so much as their ability to control his narrative,” he offers. “Mega-churches, Fox News pundits, and YouTube outrage merchants see Christianity as their product and view anyone else talking about Christ as a form of copyright infringement. That’s really the only explanation for how they can be so upset over a comic book they haven’t even read. They probably (correctly) suspect that it’s not Christ who’s being parodied, but themselves and how they’ve twisted his teachings of mercy for the powerless into a self-serving tool of the powerful.”
This isn’t the first time a religious group targeted entertainment for censorship in recent times. NCOSE, another group associated with the Religious Right have also gone after a number of consumer products and specifically set their sights on Steam games back in 2017, which resulted in games like House Party getting briefly banned and later censored on Steam. In fact, it was NCOSE that led the charge — with the help of both Left and Right-wing media outlets — to incite what would be known as the Waifu Holocaust 1.0.
Anyway, while Second Coming obviously won’t be releasing under the DC Vertigo brand – even though the company is publishing Zoe Quinn’s Goddess Mode, in spite of all the controverisal baggage attached to the creator – Russell still has plans on releasing the comic at some point down the line.
Russell also acknowledges that even though Vertigo initially published Preacher way back in the day, which was a gritty, adult-themed take on religion and the supernatural, he admits that today’s era is different with the way companies are desperate to protect their brand image as multi-billion dollar mega-corporations, even if it means sacrificing creativity, originality, and any hint at being politically incorrect.
(Thanks for the news tip The Positivist)