"Modern Testament: Volume 4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Frank Martin
Illustrated by San Espina, Martin Szymanski, and Anthony Pugh
Colored by Adri Pratama, Miguel Marques, and Julian Dominguez
2017, 36 Pages
A good anthology comic works with a central theme or plotline. The best are helmed by a singular voice (e.g. Nightmare World, Twisted Dark). Frank Martin plays in this space with Modern Testament, a series showing what various biblical beings are up to in the present day. This is the fourth and final volume of the series, and he's pulling out the big guns with God, the Devil, and Death from the Four Horsemen.
The first two tales, “Better the Devil You Know” and “God Complex” (followed by part two of the first one, “...Than the Devil You Don't"), serve as a nice bookend for the book. In case you hadn't figured it out, the former features the Devil and the latter features God. They're not in their traditional roles and this works very well. Satan appears to a drunk as a little person businessman readying to offer this guy riches in exchange for his soul. He's direct and pragmatic even though he's pure evil. Yet, he's the one that has a lesson for the people involved.
Meanwhile, God is a complete dick. When a professor figures out the secret to everything (aka God's special sauce), he basically throws a temper tantrum and threatens to destroy everyone and start all over. This dichotomy between the two polar opposites is interesting, as they're not how we usually see such characters. By looking at them from a different angle, Martin casts them both in a new light and it is very effective.
San Espina's artwork along with Adri Pratama's colors on “Better the Devil You Know” portray a very dark tone, like this man's life is always in the shadows. This is the case even after he becomes wealthy. Nothing can fill that void left within him. The design for Satan is sharp and menacing despite his small stature. He commands a room and doesn't have to come in with horns and red skin (although there is a single panel where Espina draws one crazy terrifying demon).
God is portrayed as an over-confident billionaire. He swoops in during a lecture and starts in on the professor. He's capable of literally making anything out of thin air and he does so with a flourish. There's one moment in particular that stands out when he decides to kill two security guards. He just waves his hand in front of them and they basically disintegrate, leaving nothing but crumbling skulls.
The final tale, “At Death's Door,” is a fun yarn about the Horseman getting tired of his job and how everyone takes him for granted. It serves as a nice closure to the series with a tongue-in-cheek vibe. Of course, since this is a horror title, you get a little twist at the end which works well.
Modern Testament joins the ranks of classic horror anthology comics. It provides a unique spin on characters and concepts from the Bible that are often seen as stuffy or boring. In this case, they're pulled to the present and we see how they might interact with the public in this day and age.