Drawn by Richard Pace and written by Mark Russell (who is known for making offbeat satirical comics like DC’s unexpectedly dark Flintstones reboot), Second Coming is about Jesus Christ returning to present-day Earth.
“Witness the return of Jesus Christ, as He is sent on a most holy mission by God to learn what it takes to be the true messiah of mankind by becoming roommates with the world’s favorite savior: the all-powerful super hero Sun-Man, the Last Son of Krispex! But when Christ returns to Earth, he’s shocked to discover what has become of his gospel—and now, he aims to set the record straight.”
The first issue was due out on March 6, so no one has actually read it yet. It’s one of seven new comics in DC’s newly relaunched Vertigo imprint, aimed at mature readers.
It’s very rare for publishers to cancel a comic this close to publication, with DC and Marvel both routinely ignoring public backlash like the response to 2017’s fascist Captain America storyline. This is, however, the second strike against DC’s Vertigo relaunch. Last December, the acclaimed series Border Town was abruptly canceled after the writer was accused of sexual and emotional abuse.
DC relaunched Vertigo last year, with plans to publish “modern, socially relevant, high-concept” new comics for adults, calling back to the imprint’s heyday of titles like Sandman and Preacher. There was no particular objection to Second Coming when it was announced last summer, with the Change.org petition only appearing in January. The petition cites a Fox News post, which may be where the backlash took hold. Describing the comic as blasphemous, the petition asks, “Can you imagine the media and political uproar if DC Comics was altering and poking fun at the story of Muhammad… or Buddha?”
Since that message received over a quarter of a million signatures, it’s safe to say most of the protests do not come from the comic’s target audience – kind of like when the American Family Association decides to boycott a TV show for including gay characters. For context, the November issue of Border Town sold about 8,500 copies in stores. These comics are not playing to a mainstream audience. However, the sheer number of signatures was evidently enough to make DC worried, and Second Coming has been pulled from publication.
Writer Mark Russell announced on Twitter that DC had given him the rights to the title, leaving the door open for Second Coming to be published elsewhere.
The: DC/Vertigo’s cancellation of the orders for Second Coming, just so you know, DC did not do anything untoward to me. I asked for the rights back and they gracefully agreed. They’ve been a pleasure to work with and it will still be released, albeit with a different publisher.
— Mark Russell (@Manruss) February 13, 2019
So don’t be surprised if Second Coming resurfaces somewhere like Image Comics, now benefiting from extra publicity thanks to all the backlash.