'Second Coming' Writer Explains Why DC Comics Cancelled the Series

Last week, DC officially cancelled retailers' orders for Second Coming, the religious satire from writer Mark Russell and artist Richard Pace that was slated to be released beginning this spring from the company's Vertigo imprint.

The series centered on an odd-couple pairing of Jesus Christ and a thinly-veiled Superman analogue, with the idea being that God had sent His son back to Earth so that he and "Sun-Man" could learn from each other. It had, perhaps not surprisingly, drawn heavy criticism from conservative Christians.

In the comic, God sent Jesus to Earth to learn from Sun-Man, a superhero who was being worshipped by confused humans. Once on Earth, Jesus would be dismayed to see what had happened to Christianity over the years and the atrocities committed in his name, and set out to set the record straight.

First announced with the rest of DC's recent Vertigo launches back in June of 2018, Second Coming attracted the attention of Christian activists and Fox News in the weeks leading up to the planned publication of its first issue in March. Ultimately, over 200,000 people signed a petition insisting that DC not publish the book, but even before that, things had apparently begun to sour between DC and the creative team.

Apparently, DC not only wanted to delay publication of the comic to an unspecified later date, but had asked Russell and Pace to make changes to the series, including removing profanities and covering up a nude scene set in the Garden of Eden.

...That last one is kind of baffling, since nudity is kind of part and parcel of the scripture in that case, but let's move on.

"DC was requesting these changes [regarding profanity and nudity] before FOX News set the outrage machine in motion, so it's difficult to speculate what, if any, impact their campaign had on any of DC's decision-making," Russell told HuffPost in an email. "Though I imagine finding 200,000 auto-generated e-mails in your inbox can't be too pleasant."

When the creative differences became too much to overcome, Russell and Pace gave DC an easy out: they wanted the rights back. DC obliged, and the creative team are looking for a new publisher for the project now.

DC has not responded to requests for comment about Second Coming.

Before becoming a household name in the direct market with critically-acclaimed runs on books like The Flintstones and Prez, Russell published the biblical comedies God is Disappointed In You and Apocrypha Now, with art by Shannon Wheeler, through Top Shelf.