The Judas Coin GN

DC Comics

$22.99, color, 104 pages

Writer/artist: Walter Simonson

I'm a huge Simonson fan, which may be why I was so disappointed with this effort.

When I read the solicitation for this book, I thought "I bet they're going to follow one of the 30 pieces of silver given to Judas Iscariot in The Bible through the ages, where it will coincidentally run into contact with many of DC's historical characters before ending up as Two-Face's famous coin." And I was exactly right.


Guessing a plot isn't always disappointing, but it is when virtually nothing else of interest happens, which is the case here. Just as I expected, the coin had "adventures" with the Golden Gladiator, Viking Prince, Black Pirate and Bat Lash before ending up as Two-Face's famous coin, where we had a Batman story. And honestly, these stories were so short as to be vignettes -- the whole book is only about 100 pages -- and not a whole lot happened.

I will admit that I didn't expect the final chapter, set in the far future where the coin has an adventure with Manhunter 2070, a short-lived character whose only solo adventures, as far as I know, were in three 1970 issues of Showcase. And one of the historical characters dies, which I didn't expect, but I also didn't much care. (They're in the past. They're dead already. All we don't know is the "how," but we can safely assume they all died heroically.)

And aside from the predictability of the book, there were some strange choices I didn't much enjoy. For one thing, the Batman chapter -- the one most fans want to see -- is presented in the clumsiest manner possible. For unexplained reasons, the Batman chapter is drawn in comic-strip format, printed sideways and rendered in black and white. So you have to hold the book awkwardly to read it, the straitjacket of the comic-strip arrangement constrains the story and the lack of color only makes it harder to understand what's going on.

I'm not saying B&W is inherently bad, because it's not -- some artists, like Gene Colan, actually look better in B&W. And that's because they "paint" with pencil, giving us an artistic tour de force with effective shadowing and fully-rendered everything. But Simonson doesn't use any extra rendering, or texturing, or shading, or washes, or anything to make this really good B&W art. Instead, it looks like standard 1960s comic-strip art where someone mistakenly left off the C, M and Y plates. Maybe that was to add to the comic-strip feel? Regardless, it was a bad storytelling decision.

I suspect that most of my disappointment stems from the fact that Simonson walks on water for me. I expected a whole lot more, and perhaps I set the bar too high. But even gods can have clay feet, and this one's a clunker.

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Intriguing how DC has two tales based on the Judas' story at the one time.  Something to do with betrayal and taking the money being worked out there.

And I'm tired of it. I don't care for religious imagery or thought.

Quite a blanket statement.  :-)  A lot of literature and art turn on those themes.  Even humanist, agnostic, or atheistic lit and art.

 

My beef with what's going on in Phantom Stranger right now, or even the book above, perhaps, is that it takes received wisdom/widely held and influential beliefs and doesn't question them, or interrogate or subvert them in any way.  Just soothingly reassures readers that their belief system is fine, noting to worry about, go back to sleep.

 

Art isn't supposed to be somnolant and soothing, or at least the worthwhile stuff isn't.

 

 

...It takes all kinds , CC .

  Your description of the Batman chapter actually has me more interested in it !!!!!!!!!

  So there .

I haven't read Judas Coin (but I do own it) or anything past about five pages worth of Phantom Stranger (I only own the one issue), but I laughed out loud at this. I think you're on to something there, Figs. Truly ironic.

Figserello said:

Intriguing how DC has two tales based on the Judas' story at the one time.  Something to do with betrayal and taking the money being worked out there.

I'm a big fan of Walt Simonson, too, and was looking forward to this release, but when it shipped I didn't buy it. Simonson seems to be at that age at which some cartoonists "learn what to leave out" (if you know what I mean). I waited for someone to post about it on this board, but until now no one has. I even saw a discounted new edition at Half Price Books and couldn't quite bring myself to buy it. I didn't give it more than a flip through, but your review confirmed my initial impression. Too bad.

I meant to say "in my comics books." And for a similar reason that you state: I don't want my funnybooks to establish Chrisitianity as THE religion, because that's insulting to people of other faiths. And choosing the dominant religion as THE religion is just cowardly. Plus, it encourages those who already believe that, and are trying to write their dogma into law.

Figserello said:

Quite a blanket statement.  :-)  A lot of literature and art turn on those themes.  Even humanist, agnostic, or atheistic lit and art.

 

My beef with what's going on in Phantom Stranger right now, or even the book above, perhaps, is that it takes received wisdom/widely held and influential beliefs and doesn't question them, or interrogate or subvert them in any way.  Just soothingly reassures readers that their belief system is fine, noting to worry about, go back to sleep.

 

Art isn't supposed to be somnolant and soothing, or at least the worthwhile stuff isn't.

 

 

...Does (SPOILER) this in any way tie in , or even seem to connect , with the use of the " Judas' 30 pieces " in the contemporary PHANTOM STRANGER series ?

Nope.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...Does (SPOILER) this in any way tie in , or even seem to connect , with the use of the " Judas' 30 pieces " in the contemporary PHANTOM STRANGER series ?

Wait a minute ... how could Two-Face's silver dollar -- that is, American money -- be one of Judas's coins? 

Melted and re-cast maybe?

ClarkKent_DC said:

Wait a minute ... how could Two-Face's silver dollar -- that is, American money -- be one of Judas's coins? 

...Thank you .

Captain Comics said:

Nope.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...Does (SPOILER) this in any way tie in , or even seem to connect , with the use of the " Judas' 30 pieces " in the contemporary PHANTOM STRANGER series ?

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