The Action Bible: New TestamentA comic review article by: Bill Janzen
It's not every day that I'm asked to review a copy of the Bible and give it a rating. But as a comic fan, reviewer at Comics Bulletin and as a pastor, it was something I was happy to do. Of course, The Action Bible: New Testament isn't a Bible proper since it doesn't have the complete biblical words included. Rather it's a graphic novelization of the New Testament with the art done by experienced artist Sergio Cariello, who has drawn for both of the big two comic studios, Marvel, DC and more recently, BOOM! Studios.
I can only imagine how challenging it must have been to choose which text to use for this book. As I read through it I was torn between times when I found the scriptural words paired with the images to be exciting, whereas at other times I found certain powerful words and stories had been left out and was disappointed. Of course it's a necessity to leave a some out and summarize other pieces in order to put the Bible into a graphic novel form (otherwise it would easily have multiplied many times in size), so I understand the missing lines. In the end I think they did an excellent job in deciding what to leave in and, as the subtitle on the book's cover states, they deliver "God's Redemptive Story" that is at the heart of the whole Bible.
As for the art, one should expect good things from an artist who has worked for such big studios and that is indeed what I found in The Action Bible: New Testament. Cariello does an excellent job of bringing visual flair, style and drama to "the greatest story ever told". Cariello brings a sense of wonder to the scene of Jesus' ascension and a sinister atmosphere to the parable of Good Samaritan as the traveler is attacked. Overall Cariello's work is excellent despite what must have been the difficult task of drawing so many pages (The Action Bible: New Testament is 234 pages of graphic novel goodness) and such a wide range of characters and narratives. He also made some interesting choices as he visualized the biblical content. For example, I would imagine how to draw Jesus was not a difficult decision given our common culture visualization of him (though we of course have no idea how accurate it is), but for drawing Satan during Jesus' temptation in the wilderness Cariello chose to draw him looking like a regular person, with only subtle hints of his true sinister nature. An interesting direction, and one completely different from how I have always envisioned the story.
Overall I would highly recommend The Action Bible: New Testament. The creators have done an excellent job of capturing the heart of the biblical teachings and narratives and presenting it all in an interesting, visual package. On top of that, 234 pages for a cover price of $16.99 is a pretty sweet deal, not to mention the option of probably being able to get it even cheaper from a source like Amazon. If you want to read the biblical in a fun, new way, I recommend picking this up.
On one final but important note, I should also point out that last year there was a release called simply The Action Bible. The difference between the previously released The Action Bible (a hardcover) and this book The Action Bible: New Testament is essentially that the Action Bible: New Testament is simply the New Testament portion of the previously released Action Bible, and put into softcover format. So if you've already purchased the Action Bible, then obviously you already have this material, no point in buying. If you prefer softcover or mostly want to see the New Testament in graphic novel format then this is for you. If you want to get the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments then I'd recommend going with the formerly released Action Bible with all the material together in one hardcover format, though with a little higher cover price of $24.99.
Bill Janzen started collecting comics at about seven years old. Like many, Bill stopped collecting comics during the '90s, but was drawn back in when his wife Beth, thinking his childhood hobby was cute (and not knowing what she was starting), suggested he should pick a comic book and try to collect it from start to finish. Years and thousands of comic issues later, Bill still loves superheroes. He lives in South-Western Ontario, Canada and when he's not writing reviews for Comics Bulletin or stopping bullets with his mind he is also the pastor of a Baptist church.