Review: Next Testament TPB Volume Three
What’s the most disturbing book you’ve ever read?
Clive Barker: That’s an easy one. The Bible.
Religion has always played a big part in a lot Clive Barker’s work and The Next Testament is probably his most (at least to me) interesting take on the subject matter to date. He and co-writer Mark Miller took a bold approach to the material in a way that was both disturbing and entertaining. It’s been a fun ride from beginning to end and I hate that the story is now over.
In this third and final installment of the trade paperback collected volumes, Wick is finally going to unleash his wrath upon mankind so he can create a new world that is more to his liking. At the same time Tristen and his fiancée Elspeth continue to work around the clock to figure out a way to stop him which eventually proves useless as Wick is to powerful for them. But just as the world is about to meet its destruction Tristen calls upon the Devil himself and the Holy Ghost to help. They intend to stop Wick at any cost, but he’s not planning on going without a fight.
The action really takes over the story which I was happy with. There’s hardly any dialog in the final two issues combined. It practically turns into one big wrestling match (set in Rome, Italy no less) between the most powerful Gods known to mankind. As serious as the subject matter is both Barker and Miller obviously can’t help themselves from having a little fun with the fights. There are some great throw downs that brought back memories of other comic book battles from such titles as Marvel Comics the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and the Uncanny X-men. I was also reminded of the action filled finale of the film Superman 2 (The Richard Donner Cut) where the Man of Steel battles Zod and his two companions. All of this is once again beautifully realized by artist Haemi Jang through her strong ability to visualize what the writers put on the page.
Another aspect of the art that I enjoyed was the stylistic choices that were used to tell the story in the final few issues. For me some of these decisions were a new way to convey in the art what words can never do. The part where Wick is ending the world and the characters begin to fade away was nothing short of brilliance. It got under my skin a little bit because I could see the world ending this way where we simply just vanish into thin air.
Even though I’ve enjoyed the character of Wick I must confess that I’m glad he was stopped and good prevailed in the end. Wick turned out to be a real asshole. He was a contradiction of his own silly ideas of what he believed mankind should be. Man should be able to decide its fate and not have to worry about petty deities trying to decide what’s best for them. And the irony to it all was that Wick didn’t really know what he wanted either.
As with the other trade paperback editions this also comes with some cool extra features. Thomas F. Monteleone provides a very informative introduction that raises some interesting questions about Wick that made me think about the character in a different light. Some of his insights are the reason I began to look at Wick as a being that really doesn’t care about creation at all, but only its destruction. The afterword by Jonathan Maberry reflects on how he came to know the work of Clive Barker and how he feels both Barker and Miller have breathed some new life into a genre that was really running out of steam. There are some cool alternate covers shown as well. I really liked Clive’s Variant cover for issue twelve.
The Next Testament is deeper than the average comic book, but don’t lose sight that it’s still a comic book. And I’m sure that’s why the authors chose to tell this story in this medium. Life is supposed to be fun and not to be taken seriously all the time. With all the insanity that’s been going on in the world as of late, The Next Testament only asks its reader to relax and have a good time. And that’s what I did.