written by Mark Millar
illustrated by Peter Gross
Jodie Christianson is 12 years old and living in small-town, 1980s Illinois when the world—in the form of a massive semi trailer—comes crashing down on his head. He survives without a scratch.
There’s seemingly nothing for him to recuperate from, but he’s brought to the hospital for observation anyway, and a kindly nurse there tells him that he’s just now beginning to learn of the great things that will unfold for him. Later still, after acing a history test in school and proving himself to be an overnight whiz in mathematics and science, his mother confesses that she’s never had sex with his father and that his birth was a miracle.
By now, you’re starting to get the picture, of course, and so is Jodie. The more he learns, though, the more he comes to understand his place in the world (or the universe, more correctly) and the upcoming battle that it will entail. American Jesus gets described as “Harry Potter meets the Book of Revelation,” and that’s somewhat, but not entirely, apropos. Writer Mark Millar (The Authority, Wanted) and artist Peter Gross build the suspense well (the ending of this book has a deliciously surprising twist that I won’t even hint at here), and the work is original in a genre that often seems crowded.
The series was originally published in 2004, when it was just called Chosen, but this collection was put together by Image earlier this year. The second volume, The Second Coming, will be released later this year, and after reading the first, I’m anxious for the continuation of the story. This trade-paper collection includes a conversation between Millar and Gross at the end that reveals so many wonderful details about the work that you’ll want to reread it right away (they give away some of the “Easter eggs” to be found throughout the pages).
It’s also worth mentioning that Millar has respect for religion and doesn’t treat the subject matter glibly. In fact, not one but two priests write afterwords in this volume! If that doesn’t give it at least a semblance of an imprimatur, nothing will.