When I received my review copy of The Action Bible from David C. Cook Publishing, what first impressed me was the weight of it. This is no skimpy paperback. The 750-page hardcover is over three pounds—built with quality materials, including heavy-weight full-sized endpapers, decorative headbands, and glossy paper stock throughout.
When Sergio Cariello, famous for his work for Marvel and DC Comics, was chosen to provide the artwork for this volume, it was a weighty responsibility indeed. He was not illustrating Batman or Captain America; this time he was dealing with the Word of God. Cariello brings his unique vision to this project, and his characters may not match images in your mind’s eye, which may have been influenced by medieval art. Bearded, muscular angels may take some by surprise, but I think they just might be an improvement.
A quick search of the Internet shows Cook was not the first publishing house to develop a graphic novel Bible. But they are apparently the first to release a version with such quality… and quantity. 750 pages may make for a hefty book, but it is still a short space in which to present the entire 66-book Protestant canon of scripture. Decisions needed to be made about what would be included. The material is presented in chronological order, so some of the editing process was accomplished by including snippets of the prophetical and poetical books within the narrative of the historical books of the Old Testament. The four Gospels are combined into a single narrative, the epistles are briefly summarized, and Revelation is condensed into three pages. All in all, the editing choices fit well with the subtitle of the book: God’s Redemptive Story.
Along the way, background information is given to help the reader, and some details are glossed over, apparently with a younger readership in mind. I was amused by the depiction of Joseph being seduced by Potiphar’s wife. Here is the dialog:
Potiphar’s wife: Joseph, come sit beside me and tell me where you came from. Why are you here in Egypt?
Joseph: Thank you, but I have to finish before Potifar returns.
Potifar’s wife: Do you always have to think of Potiphar?
Joseph: He’s my master! I won’t be disloyal to him or disobey my God!
Potiphar’s wife (thinking): No man can treat me like that—and live!
The next frame shows Potiphar returning.
Potiphar’s wife: Your Hebrew slave tried to kiss me! I screamed and he left—but he dropped his robe. Here, see it?
If I remember my Sunday School days correctly, I was told the story a bit more directly. At a certain age, I wouldn’t have understood the specifics of what seduction was all about, but I would have known certain behavior is inappropriate with the wife of another man. I would have understood that a kiss would have been wrong, so Potiphar’s reaction to his wife’s lies would be understandable. But the scene could have been done in a way that made it more obvious that Potiphar’s wife was trying to do more than have a friendly conversation.
That being said, overall the book captures the essence of the biblical narrative rather nicely, and may be a good place for your child or grandchild to become acquainted with scripture. If he is into comics, this just might be the perfect Christmas or birthday gift this year. With discount outlets selling the volume at under $20, it certainly is an affordable option, too.