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Crusaders Comics Reviews


"The Gift" (Crusaders #8) Review by Rich Lee! Art by Carter 1977.

This adventure begins with Marcia Gordon, a young woman who has been dumped by her fiance, flunked out of school by her professor, and overall having a bad hair day. She decides to commit suicide.

Meanwhile, our Crusading heroes are finishing dinner with their girlfriends. They leave the restaurant and walk down a pier as Marcia takes a nosedive into the depths. Jim and Tim jump in to save her, and Tanya, Jim's girlfriend, happens to be a nurse who performs CPR. They take her to Tanya's apartment rather than to a hospital or suicide crisis center.

Upon waking up, Marcia asks who saved her. When she hears that Jim did, she rips him a new one...literally. She takes out a chunk of his right cheek and says "Thanks for nothing!" When black Tanya brings white Marcia some "good hot soup," she asks, "What's in it, Aunt Jemima? Hog jowls and turnip greens?" Obviously, she took some lessons from Tiger Woods' friend Fuzzy Zeoler!

Undaunted, Tanya says "Marcia, you can't get to me...I love you!" "Wow!" Marcia replies, "Now I'm stuck with a lesbian!" Tim's girlfriend Lois snaps, "That's cruel, Marsha! We're all Christians here! We're trying to help you!" Marcia is unimpressed. "So that's it! A bunch of fanatics play hero and now you're gonna try and shove a Bible down my throat!" When they sit down for a meal, Jim says grace for the food. Marcia openly adds in her prayer, "O mighty god of fire...thank you for lighting this cigarette...and for cooking this meal...and I almost forgot, the sun god for growing the coffee bean for this cup of mountain grown coffee!" Aside from being a smart ass, she is really annoying.

Tim asks Marcia what she knows about Jesus. "It's sort of fuzzy...uh...He was a little kid born on Christmas, you know...the Santa Claus bit...And he died on Easter...I don't know what the bunny has to do with it...I guess that's about as much as I know about it!" Tim then launches into the Gospel story beginning with the Roman occupation of Israel and the angel Gabriel's visit to the virgin Mary. An angel announces that Mary is pregnant with God's child. Then the angel visits her fiance in a dream and assures him that no funny business went on with Mary and another man. God is only borrowing Mary's womb for nine months.

Tim relates the birth of Jesus, Marcia wants to know where the three wise men were. Tim only answers that they didn't show up, and shifts the story over to Jesus' circumcision. Yeah, we know that Jewish boys get these. Marcia says, "That's all very interesting...but where the @!!!**! were the wise men?" We are told that they were in Mesopotamia looking for a star. For someone who only has a faint recollection of the Gospel story about Jesus, Marcia remembers the legendary three wise men's names of Melchior, Gaspar, and Belthasar. Tim is quick to point out that that isn't recorded in the Bible, but comes from unreliable tradition. In fact, the wise men aren't numbered and probably were a whole caravan. They ended up meeting Jesus at a house (not a manger) and he was already two years old by then.

The slaughter of the innocents, earlier depicted on the cover, is recounted in graphic detail. This is the incident where King Herod orders the deaths of all male children under the age of two in an attempt to kill the Christ child, whose birth he learned about from the wise men. (Maybe they weren't so wise after all?) Tim ties in the Exodus story with Jesus as a "Passover lamb" to be sacrificed when he became an adult. The basic Gospel story including Judas' betrayal of Christ, the prayer of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest, crucifixion and burial are shown in all its gory glory. We learn that death by crucifixion was a slow painful death. He wore a crown of thorns up to six inches long and was whipped before the crucifixion. The resurrection event is also recounted, and by story's end, Tim asks, "Marsha, now do you understand what Jesus did for you?" "I think so," she replies. Tim emphasizes that "God hates sin!" "Oh my God..that means I'm going to hell! Right?" Tim assures her that there is a way out. However, she says that she should clean her life up first. "No, Marsha, He wants you just as you are..." Tim says. At this point, one can almost hear George Beverly Shea begin the song "Just as I am, without one plea..." often sung at Billy Graham crusades.

After the obligatory tears, she recites the sinner's prayer and suddenly feels better. Tanya even says "Shore nuff?" to round out the earlier Negro jabs. Marcia has the last word. "Yeah!...in fact, now I even like your hog jowls and turnip greens!" Readers nervously laugh at the racially sensitive humor.

This volume lacks controversy and is a straightforward evangelistic comic to win converts. Carter's artwork, even of a kitchen table and living room, is photo realistic. The character of Marcia Gordon must have been modeled on a real person because of her vivid expressions. When she is contrasted with the characters of Lois and Tanya, they're not as life like. Vivid portrayals of Hell and underlining conspiracies are noticeably absent. However, the all-time goriest depiction of the crucifixion is included on page 29 with an accompanying medical view of how Jesus suffered during the crucifixion. Not recommended reading at meal time, especially on Spaghetti night.

Grade "B" for Bloody! Return to Comics Index.


 

"The Overcomers" comics Review! (Art by Mary Mitchell 1987/88.) One of the most odd-ball items Chick ever published was an obscure set of four comics called The Overcomers. These full color 32 page comics are universally disdained by Chick fans for their horrible artwork and dumbed-down narration. Mary Mitchell isn't the worst artist ever, but having her follow the incredible Fred Carter is like concluding a Jimi Hendrix concert with Tiny Tim. (If you don't know who Tiny Tim was, I envy you.) All four comics quickly and quietly disappeared. One collector reports that the first two comics were already discontinued by the time the second two were released. They are certainly difficult to find today and extremely rare. However, they are also low demand items, so the prices belie their scarcity. The four titles are The Escape, The Beginning, Blood of Love, and Children of Light.

Fortunately, there are several redeeming aspects to this series as well. Some feel they are so bad, they are actually good. Could this set be to comics what Plan Nine From Outer Space was to film? They certainly match schlock director Ed Wood's standard for dialog. Consider the stilted language uttered on page 25 of volume 1: "Thank God for the children of the Kingdom of Light who fight for their brothers and sisters in the family of God." "Yes, and join us as watchers." What exactly does this mean? And what the heck are watchers? When Rebecca Brown talked about watchers, they were demons hiding in pictures, but now, just a few years later, they're suddenly good guys? That's almost as inconsistent as Plan Nine's cuts back and forth in the cemetery, switching from day to night and day within the same time frame. Where is the Continuity Person during all this? In the bathroom throwing up (along with the rest of the audience)?

The Overcomers also has its share of monsters (demons). Some of the critters are half way scary too. But like Plan Nine's monsters, they never quite make the grade. No matter how good the drawing or make-up, it's difficult to get frightened when the rest of the story is so silly.

Speaking of Rebecca Brown, her spiritual warfare beliefs permeate this series. The central premise is that God sends angels down to protect people from a demon infested world-- so long as they evoke his name. "Don't be scared," the deliverance minister-maiden assures the kids, "OUR LORD JESUS, THE TRUE MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE, made it possible for us to have power over them. In the name of Jesus Christ, go!" (The demons scatter on command-- page 28, vol. 2.) Guardian angels stand guard around the clock. Jesus summons some on page 13 of vol. 1 by saying, "I have called you to Me because I have chose you to take care of these new children of the Father. You will stay with them always, protecting and watching over them." So apparently, angels spend decades away from Heaven doing sentry duty on Earth. It's a far cry from paradise.

Kids are also told they can get anything if they pray for it right. A younster explains to his friends, "The BELIEVING ONES said that we have a new Father, the Father of Jesus, and if we ask HIM anything in the Name of Jesus, we'll get what we ask for. IF we BELIEVE that He hears us." (page 15, vol. 1.) Let's hope none of them try to fly like an angel off the roof...

No Chick reader is too young to learn about conspiracies. Page 29 of vol. 2 says, "You are going to learn about demons, the false angels of light, and the humans they use to make you think wrong and act wrong." A pyramid symbol is labeled, "Spiritual Church of the New Age. (False) prophecy-- channeling-- You are God." A group of New-agers, Jesus People (complete with a "I am a child of the rainbow" T-shirt) and Spirit Guide guru stand above the statement, "Here are some of the false ones."

None of the humans look quite right. Their eyes are too big and the open mouths look like chopped liver. Jesus is always presented with a silver dollar sized hole in his hands. Not a scab, not a scar, but a GIANT GAPING HOLE! No wonder he sees everything; He couldn't cover his eyes if he tried.

The most grotesque cover of all Chickdom is definitely vol 3, Blood of Love. It shows nothing but the arm of Jesus with the large giant hole punched through the palm and a river of blood pouring out of it. Parents had to have a strong stomach to buy it for their kids.

It's difficult to decide whether to love or hate this series. Many do both. They love to hate it. Yet they still collect it whenever possible. If it isn't as bad as Plan Nine From Outer Space, then it's at least as bad as Bride of the Monster, and earning 2nd place in any contest is nothing to sneer at-- except that it happens to be the "worst ever" contest. Grade "D+" for Drawing Disaster. Return to Comics Index.


"Angel of Light" The Crusaders Volume 9 by Rev. Rich Lee! (©1978, art by Carter.)

This exciting adventure begins with an unforgettable opening scene. Two men are reading the newspaper about a series of murders. One of the men says, "Isn't that gross? What's the world coming to? Isn't anyone safe?" The other reads from the paper,"'The girl was dragged into a black and white car- witnesses heard her screams.' Man that turns me on!" His partner agrees, "Me too, Let's go get another one!"

As the two thugs gun for their next victim, the Crusaders are leaving a restaurant. A woman, whose name we learn is Darlene, is assaulted by the two criminals. James and Tim spring into action, rescuing the hapless damsel in distress. A police chase insues, only the criminals do not make a clean getaway. They plunge off of a freeway into a Christless eternity. As the Crusaders take Darlene home, they learn that she is shacking up with a guy named Jeff. "My God," Darlene reflects, "I could be dead right now... I wonder what I'd be in the next life... I hope I'd be a better person." "No," Tim interjects. "You'd be in hell right now!...I think this is your place, Darlene."

In Darlene's thought balloon, she wonders "What kind of creeps are they?" The Crusaders are quick to lift up Jeff and Darlene in prayer upon their return home. Soon, Jeff and Darlene stop by to visit. After introductions, Jeff says "I'm not the kind of guy that wastes time. Thanks for saving Darlene's life, but I demand an apology for scaring her about going to hell!" Tim replies, "Sorry, Jeff, but Darlene is on her way to hell... And so are you!"

In true Chick fashion, Jeff responds with the trademark "HAW HAW HAW" so characteristic of mockers and blasphemers. "Nobody preaches about hell anymore," Jeff sneers, "It's all love, man!" Tim sadly agrees, then tells the story of how Lucifer became Satan, and how hell is a place that was made by Jesus for Satan and his fallen angels.

After Adam and Eve were created, Satan tricked them both into sinning and thus obtained dominion over the earth. Tim and James tell how Satan's demons were waiting to plague mankind after Noah's flood. Noah's descendants built the Tower of Babel, where God confused the languages of the world according to Genesis 11:7-9. Tim gives Darlene and Jeff a crash course on the life of Nimrod, who legend says married his own mother, Semiramis. The Crusaders give a recapitulation on the Exodus story that foreshadowed the advent of Jesus. An impatient Jeff snorts, "Let's go home. I'm sick of listening to this garbage!" James warns "If you walk out that door, Jeff...Satan will laugh his head off." Darlene says, "Shut up, Jeff...I want to hear this." Tim warns, "Jeff, it's this simple...As long as you're going to hell...you might as well know what's ahead for you."

James and Tim recount how the Exodus story ties directly into the comment by John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," (John 1:29). "Satan knows, when the show is ended, that he's gonna burn forever...but he doesn't want the man in the street to know they are gonna be joining him! And Jesus started telling it like it is!" "WAIT A MINUTE! HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" Jeff shouts. "Are you saying the whole world is lost?" After Tim quotes Romans 3:10 and 3:23, Jeff admits "My God! I am going to hell. I hate you for telling me." This often happens when the Crusaders confront anyone with the truth, at least in Chickdom.

The Crusaders recount Jesus telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16:19-31. The rich man went to hell, whereas Lazarus went to Paradise across the gulf. After the crucifixion, Jesus goes down to Paradise to retrieve Lazarus and leaves the rich man behind. After Jesus' resurrection and ascension, the world plunges into chaos. The Dark Ages began, and Satan stayed busy inspiring the Illuminati, lodges, the occult, and hatched world wars. In fact, the Iluminati is controlled by the Vatican as "reported by Dr. A.R. Rivera (ex-Jesuit priest)," a not-so-subtle plug for the "Alberto" series that occur after this story. The earlier printing of "Angel of Light" gives credit to the Rothschilds for being behind the Illuminati, according to John Todd, "(ex-Druid high priest)." However, Alberto's conspiracy theories took prominence over Todd's once the ex-Druid's predictions of an early 1980s world-wide take-over came and went without incident.

In this short story, the Crusaders take the reader from the gospel accounts of Christ's resurrection to the formation of lodges, all in just 32 pages! We also learn that Satan's spiritual structure consists of a hiearchy with Satan at the top, Beelzebub as his commanding general with several principalities under him (the names of the top demons are withheld probably to protect the guilty)! Futhermore, the principalities or dukes under Beelzebub are in charge of such categorical sins as "Addiction & Partying," "Mental Illness," "Murder" which includes the "sub-sin" of "gossip," "The Unspeakable Demon" for hindering Christians only, and "Sexual Lust." Under this interesting category, "Masturbation" is also a "sub-sin." Under the category of "Addiction & Partying," we learn that "Caffeine" and non-hallucinating drugs are also sub-sins. A different archduke demon is responsible for each sin. We are warned that "Satan's spider web covers the whole world...very few escape from him." This means that all of you boys with hairy palms are under the influence of the Horny One.

The only way out is reciting the Sinner's Prayer, with the obligatory "sob" and "sniff." Tim urges Jeff, "Now your job is to tell this good news to others." The next day, Jeff (now sporting a haircut to show how reformed he has become) asks his father, "Dad, uh...er...did you ever think you might be going to hell?" His father becomes outraged. "I'm what? Listen, Jeff...don't you ever talk to me like that again, ya hear! What kind of @!!!**! fanatic are you?"

The epilogue tells the reader in these parting words: "To most of you this story was a big joke and it turned you off. But look at it this way: at least you got a good look at the place you're heading for: Also, when your heart stops beating-as it surely will, you'll look back and remember reading this message a thousand years from now when you're in the lake of fire. It won't be funny then." No, but it sure is funny now, insofar as everyone's over-the-top performances. The opening scene alone makes the cost of admission well worth it. In fact, the black comedy rivals most anything seen in film or novels. This is also the only Chick comic where you learn that the Angel of Light (Satan) is the source of both masturbation and caffeine! Better not do both at the same time. If you confused hands, you could scald yourself for life!

Grade "A" for Angel of Vice. Return to Comics Index.


The Crusaders Vol. 18, "The Enchanter" review, by Richard Lee!

In 2007, Chick Publications has released the newest Crusaders Comic, vol. 18, entitled "The Enchanter." This is the first episode of "The Crusaders" without Alberto and the first Crusaders issue in 19 years. (The last issue was "The Prophet," vol. 17, wherein Chick took on Islam with the help of the late Alberto Rivera.)

This time around, Jack T. Chick takes on the subject of Mormonism just in time for the Republican presidential campaign featuring Mormon candidate Mitt Romney!

The inside front cover shows us a public relations picture, a picture of Joseph Smith (the founder of the Mormon faith) in a "reality painting," and Joseph Smith's death mask. This latest adventure involving the Crusaders Jim Carter and Tim Clark opens with a woman coming home to a crime scene! The police have the place taped off. Inside the home, the investigator and uniformed officer go over the crime scene with blood splattered everywhere! The house is disheveled!

The investigator observes, "Looks like a suicide to me!" Yeah, right! Could there be something MORE here? This is a Crusaders comic, OF COURSE there is something more! Jake Kimball's body lies on the floor in a pool of blood. When the uniformed officer leaves, the investigator communicates with the Bishop who arrives on scene to say "Remember the Power of the Priesthood!" and "As far as the Church is concerned...this case is closed!"

The new widow Mrs. Darlene Kimball contacts the late Jake Kimball's friends Jim Carter and Tim Clark. She tells Tim Clark over Tim's nifty cell phone (which didn't exist at the time of the last Crusader's volume) that when her late husband left the Mormon church, they lost everything including job, house, and all their friends (whose home was it that Jake's blood covered body was found in?).

Tim Clark sends money to Mrs. Kimball to stay with her mother, while Jim Carter prays for Mrs. Kimball for divine protection. Tim sits in casual attire in a living room and asks Jim, "Thank God, Darlene is safe...But why is she so upset with the Mormon church?" Jim responds, "I have no idae, Tim." Later, in church, the pastor gives a contact number to Jim Carter to call. "David Franks is an ex-Mormon and he can tell you all about it- the good, the bad and the ugly."

The next frame introduces us to David Franks (who is, in fact, based on a real life former Mormon that Chick knows). Jim and Tim are wearing the same casual attire that they were wearing just before going to church as seen on page 6, but we digress.

David Franks tells the story of the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka the Mormon Church. As so many of Chick's comic tracts would have it, David Franks (and the real person he's based on) "used to be one!" (See our link on what that means). In this story, David Franks was "a victim of Mormonism." Unlike the pastor's promise, Franks does not reveal the good about Mormonism, but just the bad and the ugly. "Almost everything Mormonism ever says about itself is a lie! What you will soon learn about their founder...will blow you away!"

And away it blows! The reader is introduced to Joseph Smith's occultic treasure seeking, his ceremonial dagger and special talisman, his involvement with Masonry, his womanizing, his manipulation, and his digging up of his brother Alvin's grave! No story about the Latter Day Saints would be complete without a treatment of polygamy. A beautiful woman named Lucinda Morgan later became a Mormon and one of the plural wives of "The Enchanter" Joseph Smith (hence the book's title).

A shocking boast from Joseph Smith includes, "I'm the only man that has been able to keep a whole Church together since the days of Adam! I boast that no man ever did such as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him...But the Latter Day Saints never ran away from me...yet!"

Joseph Smith may not have been abandoned by his followers, but he was abandoned by his fellow Masons when Joseph ended up being assassinated in Carthage, Illinois. The story takes the reader briefly to Brigham Young's leadership of the movement, then emphasizes Mormonism's peculiar teachings about a Living Prophet and doctrinal abberations that depart from biblical revelation.

Interestingly, Chick Publications provides separate documentation backing up each page of "The Enchanter" that may be found at Chick Publications' website. The documentation prints out to 40 pages should one choose to print it out instead of saving it to a documents file. Thanks to this wonderful technology, this results in a huge savings for Chick Publications to avoid the costs of printing and sending it to everyone via snail mail. What a bonus!

This is perhaps one of the most documented and substantiated Crusaders Comics ever done, and Chick Publications has a gold mine of knowledge in the person of researcher David Daniels. This volume is a huge comeback to the Crusaders series. It should have come out a long time ago instead of the 19 year wait, but Fred Carter was busy with the Light of the World DVD for much of that time, hence he could not be available to work on The Crusaders series in that time.

The artwork is among Fred Carter's best, and commensurate with what we've seen in the past Crusaders volumes. The coloring is even and clean, and the story moves quite well. Not exactly what you would show to the pimple-faced "elders" who come to your doorstep on Saturday afternoon! Haw haw haw!

Grade "B" for Bigamy! Return to Comics Index



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