Graphic Gospel

the reign of godReview by TIM LAM

Graphic novel | The Reign of God: Book One | Issey Fujishima

This debut graphic novel from Melbourne-based artist Issey Fujishima blends Western-style comics with Japanese manga to create a fresh take on the Gospel.

The Reign of God is set in 70CE, a period of conflict and bloodshed in the Holy Land. The Roman army has recaptured territory from Judean insurgents and Jerusalem stands as the last stronghold against Roman conquest.

A young priest named Yosef has defected to the Roman Empire, seeking to negotiate peace with the rebels. But his life changes when he meets Shimon, an old man from Galilee who claims to be a disciple of the crucified Messiah.

While The Reign of God is set in Jerusalem in 70CE, the majority of the book depicts a flashback from 40 years previously, detailing Shimon’s childhood and his encounters with John the Baptist and Jesus.

Fujishima’s hybrid art style mirrors his Japanese-German heritage.

The characters and landscapes of ancient Judea come alive through striking black-and-white ink drawings.

It is clear Fujishima has devoted plenty of research into the early Christian church and strives for historical authenticity.

The Jesus depicted in The Reign of God has dark skin and wears a simple tunic, a stark contrast to the traditionally Eurocentric representations of a white Messiah in flowing robes.

An appendix of maps and historical notes offers an insight into the background of the Holy Land during Jesus’ time.

The first century was a particularly brutal period of oppression for Jerusalem and The Reign of God does not shy away from depicting Rome’s violent persecution of rebels.

The grim and mature content means this is not a kid-friendly graphic novel, but teenagers and young adults will enjoy this exciting retelling of the Gospel story.

Available from

RRP: $17.95 (paperback), $8.99 (iBook and Kindle).

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