Comic Book Review: Saints: The Book of Blaise written by Sean Lewis, art by Benjamin Mackey
Disclaimer: I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was requested or offered.
“Monster” Blaise is a heavy metal musician with “one weird trick”–his glowing hands can cure throat ailments. It’s never occurred to him to look further into this, so it’s a bit of a surprise when a mysterious archer interrupts one of Blaise’s assignations. The bowman claims to be the reincarnation of Saint Sebastian, yes that Saint Sebastian, and our protagonist is the reincarnation of Saint Blaise.
Blaise wasn’t raised Catholic, or even Christian, and is none too clear on what’s going on. But bad things are going down, and they must find the last few reincarnated saints before the end of the world. The next on the list is Lucy Sweetapple, a grocery store clerk with the gift of Sight, and whose parents own a painting of Jesus that talks to Blaise. It’s only getting weirder from here.
The author of this Image Comics-published story was raised Irish Catholic, he tells us in the foreword, and he’s combined his childhood love of the Saints with metal and comics for this series. He’s best known for his plays, and it takes a while for his comics writing to click. The art is strongly inked to give it a bit of a stained-glass feel, and works well with the story themes.
This is not a book for those who like their religion orthodox; the writer plays fast and loose with the abilities of the saints, the motivations of angels and the nature of God. The ministers who have joined up with the antagonists are from non-standard churches, and there’s a children’s crusade filled with child soldiers. Meanwhile, the protagonists’ forces include morally dubious metal bands and a demon.
While this isn’t specifically labeled “mature readers”, there’s nudity, gory violence, sexual situations and some unnecessary vulgarity. Urine drinking in the first scene for shock value, for example. Lucy attacking Blaise in the mistaken belief that he was about to sexually assault her is played for laughs, but it’s pretty obvious men have tried it enough before to make her violence an ingrained reaction.
There are some clever bits with the saints’ abilities being based on their folklore but not confined to that; and very effective artistic renderings of revelatory messages. But in places I was uncomfortably reminded of some of the excesses of early Vertigo Comics.
I think this will go over best with lapsed Catholics and comparative theology majors.