Time once again to thank Diane at Royal Collectibles. Not only does she maintain the pull lists, do the ordering and work the counter, she reads comics too people! Seriously she’s the first one to tell you if she’s read something cool , which she did today. A book I hadn’t heard of, “The End Times of Bram and Ben”.
Here’s the blurb from the Image site,
“What would you do if you were caught in the Biblical End Times? When Heaven raptures total bastard Bram Carlson in a “clerical error” – he’s sent back and immediately uses Armageddon to his benefit! Can his anxious roommate Ben save Bram from himself – AND the gathering forces of Armageddon?”
Sounds interesting and offensive! Perfect! So with the blurb from Image and Diane’s recommendation I dove in headfirst.
It’s funny, really funny. And yes it’s totally offensive! I think I’m hooked! The story rolls along following Ben (the roommate left behind) as he struggles with the reality he wasn’t “raptured” (if that’s actually what happened) and butts heads with Bram (returned from Heaven due to clerical error). Bram may have been a borderline sleaze before all this but seeing “Heaven” and being sent back? Now he’s in overdrive. Add in a love interest and a wacky neighbor and halfway through the book you realize you’re reading a unique and hysterical sit-com that would never be made (at least not on network television).
James Asmus has been a busy dude, having penned the final five issues of Generation Hope, writing the Gambit ongoing for Marvel, and working with Kirkman on Thief of Thieves, you’d think he’d be I don’t know TIRED? I guess not cause here comes his and Jim Festante’s creator owned series.
And speaking of the creator owned aspect, James did an article titled “My interview with Me about upcoming comics!” in August of 2011 at his blog jamesasmus.wordpress.com where he spoke about the why of doing this series “self-produced”.
From the article: “The simple fact that there are jokes happening near people’s religious beliefs means that 95% of storytelling avenues would be terrified of helping me get this out into the world. And to be honest, I have no idea how much of an audience there may be for this book. But I know that I’d be excited to read it, and so would (a fairly diverse spread of) plenty of people I know personally.”
I think we all agree that a book like this could attract a lot of negative attention from organized religion but he’s not shy about the why of this book either;
From the article: “…rather than get into my whole relationship with theology and religion – I’ll say there was a period a few years ago where I became fascinated with feature films made by televangelists. Most of these were about “The End Times” (The Rapture, the Antichrist, etc.) – and starred B-or C-list names like Corbin Bernsen, Casper Van Dien, Jeff Fahey, and even Mr. T. My biggest problem with these (okay, one of my biggest problems) was that – though the idea of the Rapture is that ‘good people’ are taken to Heaven and the rest of us jerks must live out a ‘tribulation’ to test our ultimate fate – almost all the characters are essentially still good Christian people. That is NOT an interesting story! Look, we’re never going to get definitive proof that any religion is ‘true.’ But isn’t the much more compelling (and hilarious) Rapture story one about people who absolutely don’t believe in a religion getting hit with the reality that they blew it? Seriously – WTF would you do?!?
JAMES: So this isn’t a “pro-Rapture”, cautionary comic? Like those weird, scary CHICK Tracts?
JAMES: No. But it’s not necessarily an “anti-Rapture” comic either. In my mind, it’s no different from saying “what if you woke up and found out GHOSTS were real – and how are you going to deal with them?” There are people who seriously believe in ghosts, and those who don’t. I’m just interested in creating a fictional world where the “is there/isn’t there?” question answers itself in a HUGE fashion – and then tell a story that explores the reactions of people who totally bet on the wrong outcome.“
I give him a lot of credit, this book is poking fun at religion in the same way that “Good Omens” and “Dogma” did. Time will tell if it’s thought of as highly. He’s definitely not pulling his punches in this thing the jokes strike right at the heart of “belief” and “piety”.
So okay, the writing is great. The book is funny (and offensive!). What about the art! Well, Rem Broo (Remus Brezeanu I assume) has a cool style, calls to mind Rob Guillory (Chew) without being too on the nose. His pages are clean, his perspective is great and his layouts are interesting (if a little straight-forward). I tried to find more on Mr. Broo but all I could find was this site rembroo.com. I know Asmus & Festante originally found him on deviantart so let’s hope that this is the start of a great career!
The End Times of Bram and Ben is an irreverent, twisted, well told story about the rest of us, the “unraptured”. To go through the apocalypse with Bram and Ben is to go in good company! 5 out of 5.
Want a little more? Here’s a link to a 6 page preview hosted at lifeendtimes.com
The End Times of Bram & Ben #1 (of 4)
Story by: James Asmus & Jim Festante
Art By: Rem Broo
Cover By: Jim Mahfood
Diamond ID: NOV120448
On Sale: January 09, 2013
Series: The End Times of Bram & Ben