"God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat."
- Julian Huxley, Religion without Revelation
Next Testament is a 12-issue graphic novel co-written by horror novelist and film director Clive Barker (most known his work on the Hellraiser franchise) and Mark Miller, and illustrated by Haemi Jang. Like much of Barker's other work, Next Testament has elements of fantasy and cosmic horror, with a religious bent.
The story begins with a wealthy industrialist who is looking for god. Not in the metaphorical sense; no, Julian Demond has dropped everything to go digging around in the desert, following a dream that shook the foundations of his soul. He finds Wick, the Father of Colours, one of the original Trinity. Imprisoned for some 2000 years, he is now finally free. Surely this is an occasion to rejoice?
"'God the Father'. It sounds so stale. I always fancied myself more of a rogue. Though everything in Job is true, and still hilarious, if you ask me."
- Wick, Next Testament #2
Of course it isn't. The being who has now been unleashed upon the world is the Abrahamic god with a very Old Testament flavour. He is a vain, vicious, fickle, hedonistic sociopath, and also omnipotent. It seems that the Holy Bible was based only loosely on true events. For example, the bit with Jesus apparently occurred after Wick's imprisonment by his companions, and he views the sermons and moralizing of the New Testament with disdain. Now he looks upon the world that humanity has built without the gods, and finds it wanting.
"I will cleanse you of your banality. I will deliver you from your prison of ignorance. Open your hearts to oblivion. Succumb to its embrace. There was never an alternative."
- Wick, Next Testament #9
So, who's going to save the world? Enter the lovebirds: Tristan Demond and his fiancé Elspeth. Tristan is Julian's alienated son who has returned to LA to figure out what's up with dad. After fleeing from the dinner party / massacre that is Julian's attempt at introducing God to high society, the pair set off on a cross country expedition to the one place where they might find some answers. And in the mean time, Wick starts going Biblical.
"Oh. Shit. I fucking hate free will."
- Wick, Next Testament #10
Overall, I found the series quite enjoyable. The plot is gripping, the action visceral. Watching the whims of a malicious omnipotent being play out on a helpless world creates an atmospheric sense of tension that builds to the close. Our protagonists struggle through literal Biblical catastrophes, and the world falls apart around them. Through the eyes of the man who freed him, we also see how Wick reacts to this new world of humans, and how he comes to pass his judgement on it.