Pop Theology, the Christian website that usually focuses on film and TV — “examin[ing] the intersection of pop culture and theology, religion, and spirituality” — just posted a lengthy, thoughtful review of A.D. I was taken with the writer’s pinpointing of a unique feature of comics which address documentary subjects:
The genre in which [Neufeld] chooses to work is a treasure because it allows readers to stop and meditate on images that often passed by so quickly on the news or in documentary films like Trouble the Water or When the Levees Broke. The crowds in front of the Superdome or the convention center often “fell victim” to the fly-by helicopter or drive-by tracking shot. Viewers could barely distinguish individuals in the huddled masses. Unintentionally or not, news coverage often grouped images of looters with those who were simply trying to provide for or rescue friends or family members. Thankfully, we can linger here on these images of suffering and/or heroism in ways that the rapidity of other media do not allow. Neufeld’s book, by focusing on real people and slowing down these experiences, helps concretize what so many lost in the experience, both emotionally and materially. From belongings to personal feelings of value and dignity, the victims of this storm will strive for the rest of their lives to piece together what they, perhaps, once took for granted.
I was also interested in the review’s attribution of a spiritual message to A.D.:
Neufeld opens his novel with an image of the Earth seen from outer space. As he zooms in on the planet, we see the storm clouds grow larger and larger. As a result, he paints (or rather draws) this event as a global/human disaster, not just an American one. Humanity, not just Americans, has suffered.
As a non-religious person, I approached that sequence from a journalistic and “ethical humanistic” perspective, but I suppose it’s easy to see a religious implication. As Pop Theology says in their “About” page:
We also know that a [work of art] can be religious or spiritual or offer important theological insights even if it does not contain explicitly religious characters or tell a historically religious story. It is often the case that when song or a television show seriously explores the human condition, theological questions can’t be far behind.
And to be honest, I’ve always referred to the book’s “prologue” as being from a “god’s eye” perspective.