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Crusaders Comics Reviews #2

"SABOTAGE" Crusaders #11. Guest Review by Rev. Rich Lee!

The burning Bible on the cover says it all! Satan has tried through out history to destroy God's inspired word, specifically the English translation known as the Authorized King James Version published in 1611. Our heroes James Carter and Timothy Clark are on the road to set another misguided soul straight on this fact.

In this Crusaders volume, we are told that "sabotage" means "to wreck or destroy" for the presumed recommended audience of teens and adults. A Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is also a recommended volume, but The Crusaders series is kind enough to define hard words for the reader without the need to consult a heavy dictionary. Such words as "chaplain" are highlighted with an asterisk (*) to let the reader know that a chaplain is a prison pastor. It is too bad that the Chick trademark swearing with the symbols @#%**! aren't given a definition either, but then again, you let your imagination fill in the blankety-blanks.

Gary Slator is an inmate in Soledad State prison, a hellhole where the guards want him to rot. When the chaplain* (again, a prison pastor for those not in the know) presents a lovely Bible sent from his mother, Slator rips it to shreds. Transition to Tim Clark, who receives a phone call from Slator's mother. She requests that he meet little Gary when he's released from prison. He agrees to meet him when he's released, presumably with five dollars and a bus token.

The warden gives Slator a farewell speech and tells him that he was the biggest trouble maker they've had in prison for a long time. "God help those people you meet on the outside!" he intones. By now, the reader must wonder what could possibly have made this boy rip up a Bible, curse the guards, and grow his hair an awful shade of biker locks. James Carter and Tim Clark are soon to know since they are waiting for him outside.

"You guys were from that church! What the @#%**! are you creeps doing here?" Gary Slator asks. It appears that both the guards and Slator use the same profanity of @#%**! since no other symbols are used to convey this colorful speech. Slator clues them in as to what brought him to this lowly state. He tells the Crusaders that he went to a Bible college run by men he could trust. He burned the midnight oil for Christ, won souls for him, preached on street corners, and did well in school UNTIL one morning everything blew up. A Greek professor (the New Testament was originally written in Greek) gave a lecture to young idealistic Gary. The egghead stated that the Word of God only existed in the original manuscripts and those were lost (gasp!). The King James Version of 1611 was not really the Word of God, nor was any other translation. Gary was crushed, since his confidence in the KJV was the reason he became a Christian. "According to you, then, my King James Bible could be just a pile of could be full of lies, right?? If that's the case, then this @#*!*! school is based on lies...and that makes you the biggest phoney of them all!" The shaking egghead quivers in his shoes, warning Slator to stay away. Slator yells that his faith is destroyed and he is mad enough to kill. "You @#%*#!...This Bible is no good to me anymore, so you might as well eat it! Here!" The Bible is thrust into the face of the professor, his teeth dislodged and blood flowing profusely through the handkerchief. So the Bible is not just food for the soul, but leather bound roughage for the digestive system.

During Slator's rampage, he almost kills the dean and sets the Bible college on fire. The police catch him, but he promises "Okay, got me this time, but there'll be another time and other Bible colleges!" In summary, he received two to ten years for *aggravated assault (*this means wild or violent physical attack, kids), attempted murder, and **arson (**to set fire to a building, and you had better not do this at home).

Tim tells Gary that he was set up by the "Alexandrian cult." The trio visit the home of a Dr. Hillman who seems to know that Gary has lost his faith without an introduction (maybe his long hair and the smell of cigarettes gave that away!). According to Hillman (who resembles the real life KJV fundamentalist preacher Peter Ruckman of Pensacola, Florida), the first four words that Satan said is what destroyed Gary's faith: "Yea, hath God said...?" Satan has questioned what God said, but Jesus' words were "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away (Matthew 24:35)." Jesus' words, according to Hillman, are preserved in the King James version of the English Bible, the only Bible Satan has not been able to mess up like other versions.

This Crusaders tale gives the reader a historical overview of the Roman persecution of the early Christian church. In spite of fierce opposition, the Christian movement continued to grow. Satan had to destroy the Christian church somehow, so he merged paganism with Christianity resulting in the dreaded Roman Catholic Institution. Constantine the emperor, whom history books record as the first Christian emperor, was really a phony politician who pretended to convert to the Christian faith. According to most fundamentalist Christian understanding, it was Constantine who was the first pope. Under Constantine's leadership, the Bible was translated using bad manuscripts that are the foundation of all modern translations of the Bible into English. Only the King James version is based upon a set of Bible manuscripts that came from Antioch, Syria (where the true Christians were). Unfortunately, the world of higher education swallowed the idea that the rival set of Bible manuscripts that came from Alexandria, Egypt were the best rendition of the original manuscripts. During the middle ages, the true Christians (Chickspeak for those who are not Roman Catholics) preserved the Antiochian manuscripts perfectly from generation to generation until the King James version was translated later. The various names of these Christians included the Waldenses, the Montanists (who are later labeled "charismatic monks" who summoned religious demons according to Alberto in "The Force"), Bogomiles, Albigenses, Donatists, and Anabaptists. However, some of these groups are as different from modern fundamentalist Protestants as Buddhism is from Christianity, but at least they weren't Roman Catholic. Incidentally, the set of Greek manuscripts that preserve the New Testament from Antioch, Syria come from the Antiochian Greek Orthodox Church, or sometimes called Greek Catholicism. Dr. Hillman doesn't give them credit for this, probably because they are relatives of the Roman Catholic Church.

Hillman's diatribe against rival translations is supported with the claim that members of the Church of England, Drs. Hort and Wescott, were really undercover Roman Catholics who despised the manuscripts that the KJV were based upon. Through there influence, the English "update" of the KJV published in 1888 (also known as the Revised Standard Version) was based upon the corrupted Alexandrian manuscripts, NOT the Antiochian manuscripts. Dr. Hillman warns that "soon there will be an ecumenical Bible (one common Bible for all religions) preparing the way for the antichrist. The same game goes on in some Bible colleges today. That's how they got to you, Gary!" Crusader Tim tells Gary that "He (God) doesn't expect you to do it again, Gary..." referencing the Bible passage that tells us to confess our sins (I John 1:9). This is confusing: does this mean that Gary was still a Christian in spite of his burning down a Bible college and spending time in prison? Only non-believers need to confess their sins? "Lord, forgive me for reading that New International Version of the Epistle of John that told me that I needed to confess my sins...."

After the obligatory SNIF [sic], Gary Slator is back on track. He ends his re-conversion experience with "Do you guys know where I can find a good barber?"

Although this volume lacks the presence of Alberto Rivera, it really portends it. This is among the later Crusaders comics ("The Gift" and "Angel of Light" were earlier and similar in tone) to settle the Crusaders into a living room and going over history in great detail. This volume demonstrated that the Crusaders (ironically, a Roman Catholic term!) were to learn even more about the role of the Roman Catholic Institution's dealings in intrigue. Besides sabotaging the Bible, what else were those "papists" up to? We'll have to tune in later and see....

Best panel award goes to panel 1, page 8, where a ballistic Bible bashing Gary goes berserk, shaking with rage! He totally loses it here! I only wish my days in seminary were so exciting! No one (not even me, known to engage in a little rebellion from time to time) shoved a Bible into the teeth of a theological professor, but there's always a first time.

Grade "B" for Burning Bibles! Return to Comics Index.

"Scar Face" Crusaders #3 Guest review by Rich Lee!

This early adventure of The Crusaders follows on the heels of the earlier successful comics "Operation Bucharest" and "The Broken Cross." This story begins in 1931 in a British colony in East Africa during the colonial period. An infuriated British outpost agent demands that all blacks salute when they drive through the townships. Higby, a Brit, demands a whip for the front seat so when he drives by, he can use it on anyone who fails to salute. "We're going to teach those @!!*! blacks who their masters are...if we have to kill them doing it!" he intones. Several of the natives salute as the car passes their villages. Meanwhile, little Kruma is sent by his mother to the mission station. Perchance, the car with the British colonialists is passing when Kruma fails to salute. It's whipping time, as the sargeant cracks the whip and tortures the boy for five panels. A villager takes the boy into his home where he nurses him to recovery. "You'll have to get strong! pay them back for what they've done to your face!" "Do I look bad?" Kruma asks. "Is the Pope Catholic?" No, wait, that belongs in the review of Alberto.

After screaming to holy hell, little Kruma swears "I'll do everything I can to destroy them...if it's the last thing I ever do!" Fast forward forty years when Kruma comes to power in Toganda long after the British colonialists leave. His enemies call him Scar Face, hence the name of this issue. Enter Lu Fang, a key member of the Golden Dragon Organization and head of Oriental intelligence (Stereotypes, anyone?). Since Lu Fang's government has financed Kruma's political party, he demands that all missionaries be removed from Toganda.

At a small mission post 25 miles from the capital, a missionary faces a government official who accuses the missionary of being a spy fro the CIA and tells him he will be gone in two months. "Two capitalistic white spys!" The missionary, Rev. Duncan, prays for wisdom to stop this evil plot. Apparently, God tells him to summon the Crusaders to come to Toganda by letter. (That's "snail mail" to you Gen Nexters.)

Meanwhile, Lu Fang is secretly financing President Kruma's rival Zuloo. Lu Fang warns his agent Wong that he is to build up Zuloo to the point of toppling Kruma's administration...or face the cost of failure.

Over in the United States, our heroes Tim Clark and James Carter are called into Commissioner Gordon's, I mean, Mr. Harris' office at Glenco International. "Gentlemen...I have a letter from Rev. Duncan in Toganda, East Africa...He needs your help!'ll need $3,300!" Presumably, this is for the air fare before the days of online travel services. During the Wednesday night prayer meeting, a woman approaches Jim Carter and tells him that she saw Africa and his face. From this, she presumes that God must want him in Africa. Could his being African American have anything to do with her associating his face with Africa? Naw, not in The Crusaders world of mixed racial harmony. As expected, the amount she hands him is exactly $3,300.

Back in Africa, Zuloo stirs up the crowd with a ruthless, subversive hate speech against Scar Face. When Scar Face himself hears of it, he wants Zuloo arrested the next time he makes a speech. Why not arrest him now? Simply because it interferes with the plot!

As the Crusaders prepare to leave for Africa, a woman says "Jim, I felt led to give you this blanket for the trip!" Crusader Jim responds "I won't fight it, Mrs. Taylor. I don't understand why...but the Lord does!" As the Crusaders are going through baggage inspection, Tim Clark's luggage gets the once-over from the inspector while Jim is passed over. This is racial turnaround.

As the missionary Rev. Duncan picks our heroes up from the airport, a spy reports this development to Lu Fang. "Run a check on Timothy Emerson Clark and James Carter!...I want to know all there is on them....immediately!" Lu Fang barks on a call to Peking, China. Wow, he even has their names quickly!

Rev. Duncan brings the Crusaders up to speed on President "Scar Face" Kruma's story of being beaten as a child by a white soldier as the reason why he's forcing missionaries out of the country. Kruma's rival Zuloo wants to meet with Carter just because he's a black American. Lu Fang gets his background check finished on the Crusaders. "Hummm...This is worse than I thought...These men are the Crusaders,...who took microfilm into Bucharest...and smashed an occult ring in California! Make sure you keep Zuloo away from them, Wong!" The funny thing about this line is that the reader is referred by asterisk to the previous two The Crusaders comics to keep you up to speed on their adventures and sell a few more issues!

James Carter and Zuloo meet near the mission station. Rev. Duncan warns Carter that Zuloo is a very dangerous political adversary of President Kruma. This doesn't bother him at all. Jim boldly tells Zuloo that he was sent by God thousands of miles to tell him of the Gospel. "Color means nothing to God Almighty...the thing He is concerned your destiny!" "You mean here in Toganda?" Zuloo responds. "No! I mean in eternity!" After receiving the Gospel pitch, Zuloo falls on his knees and accepts Jesus.

During the meal preparation, a native named Ruth is flattered by Jim. Her jealous fiance Tonga in retaliation reports them to the police as missionaries. In turn, President Kruma wants their visas revoked immediately. Upon receiving the command from the police to leave, Rev. Duncan learns that Tonga is the one who turned them in! He was jealous because he thought that Jim was going to take Ruth away from him. In order to show that Jim doesn't harbor bad feelings, he gives Tonga and Ruth the blanket that he brought along with him as a wedding present. Let's hope Mrs. Taylor doesn't find out her gift was given away.

The action moves a little faster as Zuloo gives his next political speech. He apologizes for ripping President Kruma a new one during his last political speech. Outside waiting is Kruma himself, waiting to arrest him on the event that Zuloo makes another subversive remark. Not this time. Zuloo says that he repents and that "We are to pray for our president!" Also in the wings is Lu Fang. "Wong...I told you to keep him away from the Crusaders, didn't I?...You are a dead man!"

President Kruma upon hearing that Zuloo has been in touch with the Crusaders, demands a meeting with them while emotionally moved by Zuloo's speech. "Sniff" appears here as a filler point.

Lu Fang feeds Wong to a huge snake to make an example of him. "I will never forgive the Crusaders for this!...I know our paths will cross again!...And when it does...I will destroy them!" Lu Fang says on his private jet returning to China. Well, it's been nearly 30 years and fourteen issues of The Crusaders later, and no Lu Fang. Maybe by now he's retired to the island of ethnic stereotypes with the Italian mafia, Muslim cab drivers, and Jewish bankers.

The Crusaders are introduced to President Kruma, who refuses to shake Tim Clark's hand. He still insists that the missionaries leave Toganda and that he won't change his mind. Upon leaving the Presidential suite, a would-be assassin attempts to kill Kruma with a firearm. Tim jumps in front of Kruma to protect him, leaving him a little overwhelmed as to how a white man could risk his life for him. Kruma has a quick change of heart and promises that the missionaries can stay as long as he can do anything about it. He then invites Rev. Duncan and Zuloo to introduce him to Jesus Christ. "Is anything to hard for the Lord?" Jim asks. President Kruma accepts Jesus as his savior and we are told that in heaven, Scar Face will have no scars anymore. Never mind that this means none of his friends will recognize him...

The story moves quickly, and has a little conspiratorial intrigue ala Communist China. The artwork by Fred Carter doesn't get much better and it's obvious he was as accurate as he could be on African clothing and geography. Best panel award goes to page 29, panel 4 where Wong is swallowed up by the huge snake. Chinese food does a body good!

Grade "C+" for Chinese Commies! Return to Comics Index.

"Exorcists" review, The Crusaders # 4 Guest review by Rich Lee!

This story may have been inspired by the movie of the same name that came out around the same time as this comic. The story begins near Calcutta, India when two boys Raj and Santosh discover an idol. Raj gets bitten by a cobra, while Santosh runs to get help from Rev. Hayes at the mission station. Raj ends up dead, and Rev. Hayes assumes the task of taking his body home. Santosh gets into a theological discussion over the existence of the devil, and he wonders if the devil could have kept Raj from dying. Later, Rev. Hayes breaks his legs while fixing a roof. Santosh surmises that the devil must be stronger than his God.

Meanwhile, in America Tim Clark gets a call from a travel agent claiming that a strange man put $3,000 into an account for him. "Did he give his name?" Tim asks. The agent responds, "No. He said something about God. He sounded like a religious nut. Haw! Haw!" Tim retorts, "Thank you Mr. Kniering. May God richly bless you." While this is going on, Mrs. Hayes summons the Crusaders to come to India. What a coincidence, but we know that nothing is coincidental in Crusaderville!

Santosh, fascinated by the prospects of the devil, gets a friend of his to steal a picture of the devil from a book at the mission station. Upon receiving the picture, Santosh begins praying to him. Guess it beats drinking the blood of a virgin!

Jim Carter and Tim Clark take Flight 217 to Calcutta, India and send a cable gram to Hayes to confirm. At the same time, a clergyman in Colorado is performing an exorcism. Apparently he is unsuccessful as he is slammed through a front door out into a busy street and killed by a speeding car. The narration states that "a foul smelling wind, filled with voices and laughter, veers to the east. Its destination?...India!" And just think, the laughing fart avoids paying $3,000 for airfare!

After arriving, the Crusaders take a tour through Calcutta and are told that there are over 300 million satanic gods in India. Although the Crusaders were summoned to help at the mission station, no one seems to know why. That night, Santosh's mother hears a thumping sound coming from his room as a mysterious cold chill arrives. Jim Carter, not far away, sees that the church was set on fire by some disgruntled villagers. Santosh's father, awakened by the commotion, now hopes that the missionaries will leave the area.

The next day, Santosh's father Arjun throws a party for his communist compatriots. Santosh is admonished to behave like a perfect gentleman because what happens will affect his future in the communist party. Santosh vomits all over the spread, while the Commissar loses his appetite and leaves. (What's the matter? Doesn't Lucifer approve of Communism?) Humiliated, Santosh's father doesn't know what to do. Taking a scene from The Exorcist, Santosh's bed shakes violently. He undergoes three weeks of tests that leave the doctors baffled. The solution? Find an exorcist- that is, someone who can cast out the demon that could be inside of Santosh.

At the mission station, Rev. Hayes is reading the book on demonology and discovers a page missing. That page is none other than the picture of the devil that Santosh used to conjure up the demon. The Crusaders visit Santosh's home and promise to return in a few days after prayer and fasting to expel the demon. Rev. Hayes gives them a crash course on fighting demons. Our heroes reenter the home, and a scream fest ala Linda Blair ensues. Arjun exclaims, "The top communist doctor in Calcutta couldn't help! No one in the party really cares! If these men can help Santosh, I'm willing to become a Christian!" Tim and Jim order the demon to leave, and all is well. Not only that, everyone in the entire village comes to Christ and plan to rebuild the burned down church. On the plane trip home, the Crusaders open a present from Santosh-its the missing page of the devil's picture torn to pieces. In the epilogue, Jim Carter warns "Hey, man...don't mess with the occult! All it's gonna give you is fear! Get away from Satan by receiving Christ....This may be your last chance!...So don't blow it!" This tale doesn't go as far as The Exorcist since we aren't treated to witnessing Santosh doing unholy things to himself with a crucifix (wait until Double Cross!) or telling our heroes what their mothers are doing in Hell. We don't actually see the demon except for the cover, and except for a few levitation scenes, we don't really see any demon powers in this adventure. Best panel award goes to page 18 where Santosh pukes all over the table. This upstages Linda Blair's vomit scene because Santosh contaminates the entire dinner. This kid has good aim!

Grade "A+" for Abundant Abdominal fluids! Return to Comics Index.

"Chaos" The Crusaders #5 Guest Review by Rich Lee!

This adventure of Tim Clark and Jim Carter comes a few years after Hal Lindsey's book The Late, Great Planet Earth became a bestseller. That book prompted the "end times" prophecy craze in the 1970s much like the Left Behind series does in the new millennium.

The story begins when "prophecy expert" Dr. Harry Morse has an attempt made on his life because he lead the head of a strange cult to Christ. Sheesh, can't the Crusaders have a normal adventure without someone trying assassinate anybody or getting run off the road? Apparently not, for Dr. Morse barely misses getting creamed by a Mack truck. He turns to Mr. Harris at Glenco Electronics for help. Before hearing out Dr. Morse, Harris immediately summons our heroes Tim and Jim to the conference room. Dr. Morse shows them a threatening letter pieced together from various newspapers to spell out "Before you return from Israel you will feel the sting of death!" Morse is scheduled to go to Israel to give a prophecy seminar and the Crusaders tag along.

On board the flight to Israel, Dr. Morse tells Tim and Jim that the most significant event to happen to show that we are in "the last days" is Israel becoming a nation on May 14, 1948. For self-appointed Bible prophecy experts, this date marks the beginning of the final generation on planet earth before Jesus returns.

Also accompanying them on the flight is an assassin who watches his future targets from behind a magazine. (Or could it be a comic of The Crusaders?)

Upon arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, Dr. Morse goes into detail over how the Jews blew it for rejecting Jesus. When the Jews finally learn at the end of time that Jesus is their expected Messiah after all, it will "blow their minds."

They check into a hotel where Dr. Morse has a room all to himself, while the Crusaders share a room. Ugh, all of a sudden, this turn in the story starts to remind one of the "Wounded Children" tract, but at least the room doesn't have cable television! The mysterious stalker manages to check into the room right next door to Dr. Morse.

The next morning, a Jewish taxi driver named Marty chauffeurs Dr. Morse around Jerusalem. We are told that the next battle will trigger World War III only if Russia moves on Israel. What will happen first-the Rapture or WW III? In Morse's opinion, Noah and the incident with Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah were precursors to the Rapture when the righteous were protected before God's wrath fell. The Rapture, for those not in the know, is the instantaneous event when all Christians (and even babies because they are too young to sin) will be seized from the earth before God unleashes famines, ecological devastation, and nuclear war. When planes crash because Christian pilots disappear and when all of the world's babies turn up missing, the world will be turned into CHAOS (hence the title)!

While lecturing on this view of the end of the world, the cult member drills a hole next to Dr. Morse's shower and prepares to slip in a scorpion while Morse is showering. A carefully placed word balloon covers Morse's private parts while the fumbling would-be assassin slips on a bar of soap and gets himself stung to death.

After the Rapture takes place, Morse says that the world leader known as the Antichrist will appear on the scene, solve the Mideast crisis, betray Israel, and suffer defeat at the hands of Jesus in the end. Included is a picture of the truck with a guilletine on the back for those who refuse the mark of the beast. Meanwhile, the Christians are having a buffet at the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" in heaven while Christians on earth ask God for revenge against their persecutors. We are told that Christians are forbidden to ask for revenge, but the "Tribulation Saints" are another group left on earth who aren't a part of the "Bride of Christ" enjoying the heavenly wedding reception. So what gives? They're permitted to ask for revenge???

After the Jews flee for their lives in the Trans-Jordanian city of Petra (seen in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), the beast (Antichrist) destroys the "apostate church." Funny thing is the "apostate church" is Vatican City, and this comic was published long before Alberto came on the scene. Furthermore, in later Chick writings, the Vatican is never referred to as an "apostate church," since this suggests that the Vatican would have been at one time a true Christian church that fell away. So...we see some "evolution" in Chick's views.

Dr. Morse leads Marty to Jesus, with Tim and Jim proudly looking on. "Tim, guess who's joining us at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?" Jim asks. "A Jewish taxi driver." Tim says. "Right on, baby...right on!" Unfortunately, the plotline involving the assassination attempts on Dr. Morse isn't resolved.

In the epilogue, Crusader Tim warns the reader that "It's later than you think!...Russia could move at any time!" Well, in 27 years, the only movement Russia has done since the fall of the USSR is migrate to the United States and take advantage of public assistance programs. I guess Tim was right...but true believers are still stuck here for now. Maybe we should ship copies ofChaos to the many Russians left behind so they can speed events up and we can get to that marriage supper sooner. Grade "A+" for Absent-minded Assassins! Return to Comics Index.

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