Writer: Mark Russell
Illustrator: Richard Pace
Colorist: Andy Troy
Letterer: Rob Steen
Editor: Tom Peyer
Publisher: AHOY Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A crystalline parody of superhero origins that subverts the genre with wickedly relevant satire. This first issue is an intimate continuation of the controversial Second Coming miniseries without the religious controversy (yet).
This issue parallels the tragic follies of Krypton in Superman with the dinnertime banter of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Set forty years prior to the original Second Coming arc, this origin story features Sunstar’s parents, Voldor and Zoldana. The two discover the impending doom of their planet, Zirconia. They learn how to cope with the repercussions of the consumerism that has caused their crystal-obsessed planet’s demise.
Unfortunately for baby Sunstar’s parents, Voldor and Zoldana must spend their last few hours entertaining their money-hungry "friends" – couple Gordo and Vera. Voldor and Zoldana desperately try to extricate themselves from their mundane dinner companions attempting to sell them a timeshare on a dying planet. The ultimate backstory question is answered: how did Sunstar escape the fate of his parents?
Mark Russell’s scathing satire is at its finest here, injecting nearly every single panel with brutally insightful social commentary. He uses this issue to explore the cost of how people often choose to ignore life-threatening issues until it’s too late.
Russell is a master at encompassing the plight of the human condition in just a few dialogue boxes. The words never feel stilted or overwhelm the reader with unnecessary exposition.
Since Sunstar is about to have a child himself, this issue captures the complex social relationships that exist between children and their parents – even if Sunstar never actually knew his own parents.
Voldor and Zoldana realize the error of their ways and value their unbreakable union as death awaits them. Their self-revelation only strengthens the bond between them, and it is inspiring to witness.
The Zirconian’s intrigue in trivial Earth commodities on their crystal-infused planet humorously puts wealth and happiness into perspective.
Gordo and Vera hilariously emulate the attitudes of '80s Southern California or Florida yuppies, and they get what they deserve.
Jesus carrying a banana and quoting the Bible is elite comedy, and emphasizes the humorous plot absurdity that made Second Coming popular.
Richard Pace’s artwork only seems to get better over time. This new issue showcases his classic, Sunstar-focused style seen in Second Coming’s initial run, but with a detailed focus on the exterior, ironic imagery of abundant crystal décor.
Pace also illustrates his characters with glaringly realistic expressions that flawlessly convey the tone of Russell’s dialogue.
Leonard Kirk and Andy Troy use a muted, pastel color palette that works in tandem with Pace’s art to emulate the past-tense nature of the story.
All the crystal decorations – including Sunstar’s baby seat – shine brilliantly, as if to say, "Better enjoy the beauty now before it’s gone."
Rob Steen is AHOY’s master letterer, and his unhinged talent is visible in every crisp balloon stroke and clear font choice.
Overall, the sharp dialogue, clean-lined art, and soft-toned colors blend seamlessly to pace the comic without interruption – besides stopping to admire Pace’s art.
I cannot forget to mention the fabulous art and prose stories that are a staple of AHOY Comics. The James Bond-esque mystery and Krampus lore stories at the end of this issue are welcome end pieces you’ll want to read.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
I don’t have many complaints at all about this first issue, other than that we don’t see much of the main Second Coming protagonists, Jesus and Sunstar.
Voldor yells about everything on Zirconia being made of crystal while dropping an F-bomb, but he’s totally justified in his anger since the planet is about to blow up. It does detract from making this an entirely family-friendly comic, but that should be expected from the Second Coming line, by now.
There is a briefly implied suicide, which was personally hard to read, but it makes complete sense in the context of the Zirconian’s already imminent death.
I do wish that Voldor and Zoldana kissed in that panel near the end, but that also stems from my adoration of their relationship.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This issue is a great jumping-off point to begin the second run of this maxi-series. Although the religious content Second Coming is famous for is nearly non-existent in this issue, Russell amps up the poignancy of fundamental superhero satire elements. Every page is chock full of biting quips and emotional nuances for readers to latch on to. Pace’s stunning art – as usual – only serves to magnify the emotional depth of the dialogue. Every panel uses jokes or detailed art to captivate readers.
If the long runs and constant retcons of modern superhero comics feel too dense to dive into, Only Begotten Son #1 pays homage to the genre without requiring extensive prior knowledge of the characters. Two words ultimately sum up why anyone should read this first issue: It’s hilarious.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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