Monday, April 14, 2014

Not Really Off-Topic: New Ghost Rider #2

So far, so good on the New Ghost Rider comic book. There are some indications that the new GR may be an android like Ghost Rider 2099, and others that we may be dealing with a classic supernatural being here. Either way, I'm cool with it, as I liked the first dozen or so issues of GR 2099.

The setting of the book is the inner city and the dialogue for, say, gang members, is actually being reproduced faithfully. Usually comics aren't too good with stuff like that. This book is hard, and raw, and I am hopeful as to where it may be going. The main character seems to have real problems a lot of the population can identify with. He has to work his ass off at a mechanics shop in the hopes of getting him and his brother out of their very difficult situation. Thematically, we're dealing with some basic issues of brotherly love and the way cultural values can hold a person back.

We rarely recognize how oppressive values can be. Part of the story of the Bible is the story of universal values overcoming tribal values. When loyalty is your highest value, then your spirit is reduced. The ancient Hebrews saw God as a tribal god... a god that justified the tribe and enshrined its values as ultimate. What they needed, God wanted. Over time, God became to them and for them, not justifier of the tribe, but Judge over it. All their values were 'like filthy rags' to God (Isaiah).

In this comic, the main character refuses to join the various gangs that surround him. This sets him apart and makes him a target. It would blow people's minds how often trying to get out of the inner city by moral and educational means makes one a target. The worst sin one can commit in a tribal society is trying to get out. For loyalty to the tribe is all but unity with God, to those who are trapped by a tribal ethic.

Education, love, virtue, wonder, awe, beauty, depth...these are threats to tribal values, and they must always take precedence over loyalty. The simple idea that there is more to life than the world that surrounds one is in and of itself a gift from God. That God became incarnate in a Gentile world within the life of a Crucified Jew shows us that the One who is other is the One who is closest to God. Where you see the outsider, the loser, the weak one, the weirdo, there you see one who is the closest to God in relation to you. This may seem obvious to those of us who grow up in a culture dominated by the universal message of Christ, but for so many it is the strangest of ideas. The tribe is not the way. God is the Way.

Overall Rating: 3.5 Stars

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