The Harrowing of Hell

Evan Dahm. Iron Circus, $15 (128p) ISBN 978-1-945820-44-1
Dahm (Rice Boy) nobly tackles one of the less commonly dramatized stories from Christian mythology: the days between Christ’s death and Resurrection, which, according to apocryphal tradition, Jesus spent freeing righteous souls from Hell. After Caesar’s verdict and the Crucifixion, Dahm’s large-eyed, soft-spoken Jesus descends to an underworld that resembles the Roman Empire, where he faces mocking demons, unbelieving dead, and the same human complexities that also make the redemption of the living difficult. With brushy line work, the stripped-down color scheme represents Hell and death in washes of red, and the world of the living in black and white. Not a simple Sunday school retelling of scripture, Dahm’s ambitious graphic novel grapples with the revolutionary humility of Christ’s message, envisioning the cost of fighting evil with nonviolence and compassion. In the climax, Jesus meets the devil and faces his own personal hell: a future in which his followers become conquerors themselves because “the only kingdom they know is the crucifying kingdom.” If this slim but provocative volume doesn’t provide enough space to fully explore the demands and contradictions of Christianity, it still succeeds as a challenging conversation starter. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/19/2019
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Comics
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