Joe Casey is no stranger to provocative comics—his Image Comics series Sex with artist Piotr Kowalski features ample amounts of the titular act, in every conceivable configuration, and with more erect members than every prestige HBO show combined. Artist Benjamin Marra is similarly unafraid to court controversy, with self-published series like Terror Assaulter O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) and Night Business embodying hyper-violent straight-to-VHS ‘80s action decadence on the printed page. It makes sense that a joining of forces between Casey and Marra could push buttons on name alone, but there’s more to Jesusfreak than shock value.
“This is a story that deals primarily with the search for self,” Casey says of the kung-fu biblical retelling. “Our lead character was a revolutionary in a time in history when even daring to be one was a matter of life and death. It’s a blood-soaked, two-fisted tale of faith and transcendence and the journey to become… something more.”
Arriving in comic stores March 20, 2019, and traditional booksellers a week later, Jesusfreak is a 64-page hardcover graphic novel from Casey’s frequent publisher Image Comics. Partially inspired by the martial-arts comics craze of the ‘70s, Jesusfreak reimagines Jesus’ journey as a Bruce Lee-style combat gauntlet, with blood to spare.
“My goal with the art for the story was to reference the raw power of comics of the early Bronze Age, when pencils and inks were thrown down on the drawing board with disciplined fury and controlled improvisation,” Marra said. “My hope is the drawings synthesize with Joe’s text to create a story bigger than both our powers.”
Casey and Marra released a black-and-white preview ashcan of Jesusfreak at last year’s New York Comic Con, but Paste readers can take an exclusive first look at the final cover art below from Marra and Sonia Harris. For more on Jesusfreak as its March release date nears, check back with Paste.
Jesusfreak Cover Art by Benjamin Marra & Sonia Harris