Not content to just be the most successful Christian rock band of the past decade, the members of Skillet are following up their latest chart-topping album, Victorious, with a graphic novel called Eden.
Every inch of this story oozes Skillet. There’s the “man vs. hostile society” themes that permeate many of their hits. There are plenty of monster imageries that serve as greater allegories of human nature. There are unabashed cheese and the kind of humor that John Cooper exudes in every public appearance (and which we love him for). And there is spiritual depth chronicling our journey home and the struggles along the way. Not to mention the protagonists of the story are the members themselves, down to name and appearance.
While the post-apocalyptic setting definitely lives in the influence of heavyweights like The Walking Dead, Eden packs enough of Skillet’s signature themes to hold its own identity. It’d be a stretch to say it’ll appeal to the comic book masses. The story is consistently enjoyable but likely familiar to the graphic novel audience. Yet, for those of us who are diehard Skillet fans, this serves as a fun little treat. It reminded me of Skillet’s “Monster”/”Back From The Dead” music video series where the band portrays fictionalized versions of themselves in a similar setting. It’s consistently fun and enjoyable in the way Skillet’s entire discography is.
The novel is more or less self-contained, even though I do wish some of the backstory was developed a bit more. There is definite closure if this is a one-off experiment. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sequel develop. There are enough unexplored themes in the story to fill several more volumes. I am especially curious about the faith angle of the story. While the story obviously serves as a sort of allegorical look at the Christian walk, there are hints of the existence of actual Christianity within the story. I’d be curious to see where a longer run of comics would take the themes. (Which is a good thing for any work of fiction.) That said, should this particular story never be revisited, it still ends on a satisfying note.
It’s definitely interesting to see the band members adapted to comic book style. I think the transition favors some members more than others, but overall the band members work exceptionally well as comic book characters. Maybe this is due to their naturally animated personalities in real life.
Overall, while the art style may become an acquired taste, there are enough interesting panels to keep the artwork engaging. There are so many little details and fun scenes throughout and the artwork definitely captures the required emotion of the story.
Make no mistake, Skillet avoids the temptation to delve into the R-rated content so often prevalent in popular culture. Sexual content is virtually nonexistent and language is kept to PG level stuff that even the strictest among us would likely be able to stomach. That said, there is a degree of action and violence in the story due to the nature of the plot. While this goes nowhere near the levels of properties like The Walking Dead or much of cable or popular cinema, I was legitimately surprised at a few of the things that go down. Given the likely young Christian audience, I suppose this should be a consideration for parents that isn’t an issue with Skillet’s music. Yet, given how drenched in gore most popular series can be today, the violence in this comic is tasteful and restrained by comparison.
Dreaming of Eden
Those who purchase the comic will be given a code to download an exclusive new Skillet song not currently available anywhere else. “Dreaming of Eden” is a power anthem that would feel at home in playlists with past Skillet anthems like “American Noise” or “Battle Cry.” The song fits well within the themes of the comic, and even add some needed allegorical imagery that isn’t spelled out within the pages itself. If it weren’t for the comic, I could easily see this being a part of Victorious.
Skillet has reached the point in their career where they have enough of a fanbase to stretch their wings a little creatively. With the exception of maybe RED, few bands today could get away with releasing a graphic novel beside Skillet. While the end product may prove to appeal more to fans of the band than just fans of comics in general, I think the former is clearly the target audience. The comic is a consistently fun and quick read that will be a great addition to your Skillet collection.
J.J. Francesco is a longtime contributor to the NRT Staff. He's published the novel 'Because of Austin' and regularly seeks new ways to engage faith, life, and community.
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