Jesus E. Lee Issue #1 Review
Nick Justus Has Created A Unique Hero For Justice, Lawfulness And Morals In That Of Jesus E. Lee
When a child is born to the surname Justus (Pronounced Justice), there are only two fates suited to such an enigmatic name: One; that they should become a crime fighter with a taste for that moral lawfulness expected of their name, or, two; that they should enter into the creative field and create such a character. Well, independent artist Nick Justus is no crime fighter (as far as I’m aware), but he has created a unique hero for justice, lawfulness and morals in that of Jesus E. Lee.
Jesus E. Lee, a name coined from that of the Biblical Messiah and Robert E. Lee; the general of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, Justus’ home state, is introduced to us in this twenty page comic with adrenaline and gusto. His costume, reminiscent of other American patriotic superheroes such as Captain America or Wonder Woman, is matched with long flowing grey hair, a beard and even Jesus sandals to bring the Christian imagery home. This is also echoed in Jesus E. Lee’s ‘Miracle powers’, where he not only resurrects the dead and heals the injured, but also stops floods and summons an angelic white horse.
This comic is unashamedly retro in both its style and content. Though set in the modern day, the art style is beautifully nostalgic with it’s hand lettering, imaginative hand drawn sound effects and duo-shade style colouring. The option to use this type of colouring, however, often makes for busy pages and difficult to translate panels. But, with a comic as full and fast-paced as Jesus E. Lee, clutter is not the first thing on your mind. As Justus will be stepping down from colouring in issue 2, passing the buck to fellow Kubert School graduate, Christian Ruiz, we are sure to see a different ambience to the future issues and from what we have seen so far this is a much slicker style to better compliment Justus’ pencils and inks.
From the get go we are treated to a twenty page action sequence between Jesus E. Lee and his adversary, Angel Eyes, who ambushes Jesus E. Lee at his very own dedication day. Although we are only treated to a snippet of Jesus’ character in this short comic, there are enough hints at future adversaries and teasers to keep us interested for the next issue.
Nick Justus’ Virginian heritage and pride is beautifully shown through his emblamatic character and, while this may be seen as alienating a foreign audience, the universal morals shine through. By focusing in on two victims and their speech within the first issue, he creates an identity for those that Jesus is protecting, making it a much more human comic than the patriotic American exterior may make you expect. Often with patriotic heroes such as Captain America or Liberty Belle, the emphasis is on safeguarding America, whilst Jesus’ responsibilities seem to lie a little closer to home.
Despite his name, Jesus E. Lee does not overplay the Christian image that you would expect. Whilst his use of miracle powers and asking a woman ‘Do you have faith?’ is blatantly symbolic, it may also be seen as tongue in cheek and intentionally old-school heroism. Whichever way you look at it, here is a hero named Jesus, wearing Jesus sandals alongside spandex and beating the crap out of his foes. Whether you are a Christian or not, that’s pretty awesome.
It would be easy to read a message into this comic which might make you shy away from it’s content and future content, but it cannot be denied that this is a nostalgic look at old school heroism, bringing a modern audience back into the Golden Age, where heroes were moral, colourful and unashamedly proud of their countries and heritage.
Jesus E. Lee began it’s life as a Kickstarter project in 2011 and Nick Justus has been working regularly with Bluewater Comics on their Female Force series since, a series of comics detailing the lives of powerful women in history; as well as ‘Political Power: The Tea Party Movement’ and ‘Tribute: Elizabeth Taylor’. Through his work with Bluewater, Justus has managed to secure printing of the future Jesus E. Lee issues and #1 is currently for sale through various digital locales. In future issues we are excited to see collaborations with writer, Jon Carroll, as well as artists Gavin Smith and Christian Ruiz, who will be taking the helm of colourist after his work with Justus on the Female Force series. A black and white version of issue two will also be available via Comixpress.com before Bluewater release the colour edition.
Anastasia is a Freelance Illustrator, Writer and Actress based in Wales, UK.
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