Quick Rating: Good
In modern-day Israel, an archeologist winds up on a trip to the past.
Writer: Robert James Luedke
Art: Robert James Luedke
21st Century Colors: Carsten Bradley
1st Century Colors: Robert James Luedke
Cover Art: Carsten Bradley & Tommy Castillo
Publisher: Head Press
With this second graphic novel in his Eye Witness series, Robert James Luedke continues providing stories for a genre that comic books – with few exceptions – have largely ignored in recent years: namely, stories with a Christian bent. If you’re inherently hostile towards that concept, you may as well stop reading right now, as this book isn’t for you. If you’re open to this sort of thing, though, Luedke provides us with a pretty entertaining story.
Acts of the Spirit follows two stories simultaneously. In the present, Archaeologist Terry Harper is thrown into a coma after an attempt on his life. Around him, the people who wanted him dead try to finish the job even as his friends and colleagues try to discover the truth about his near-death experience.
As Terry goes in and out of his coma, though, he is approached by a mysterious man who takes him on a journey back in time to the days just after Christ’s crucifixion, where Terry tries to understand how the events surrounding his violent death became a celebration. The two stories run concurrently, going from one to the other as Terry slips in and out of his coma. Both stories are fairly interesting, and Luedke provides a very strong interpretation of the scriptures. The opening threads of the story, about the potential discovery of artifacts that could prove the story of the Crucifixion to be true, aren’t really tied up, but I got the distinct impression that Luedke is saving those threads for a future installment of this series, so I can forgive that. The only other real problem I have is that the 1st Century storyline doesn’t really conclude in a satisfactory fashion. It simply… runs out as the book ends, without a real sense of resolution. The story felt like it was building towards something big for Terry – even he seems to feel it – but we never quite get there.
I really like the art style that Luedke brings to the comic. It’s a good, rich style, very animated in tone. He’s particularly good at facial expressions – the looks on the characters would be perfectly sufficient to sell the emotion of a scene even without any dialogue. He also employs different color schemes for the 21st Century and 1st Century sequences, with the former being handled by Carsten Bradley, who also provided the cover painting. The different color schemes really help separate the two storylines, and both fit the story at hand perfectly.
Considering how enormous the Christian book market is, I find it surprising that there aren’t as many comic book publishers working in that area. Luedke has put out a strong graphic novel that will certainly help fill that niche.