This is an original `graphic novel', containing a series of short stories running across the DC Universe from AD 30something to AD 2087, linked by a coin from Judas Iscariot's final pay packet. The coin brings bad luck to its possessor, starting with a man who picks up one of Judas's discarded coins outside the Temple, but fails to look both ways when crossing the street...
The stories are -
P01: `The Judas Coin'
P05: 73 AD - The Golden Gladiator in `Blood Peace'
P19: 1000 AD - The Viking Prince in `Black Blade - Silver Heart'
P35: 1720 AD - Captain Fear in `Mutiny'
P53: 1881 AD - Bat Lash in `Ill-Gotten Gains'
P63: The present - Two-Face in 'Heads or Tails'
P79: 2087 AD - Manhunter 2070 in `An Epilogue - 2087'
P97: Sketch Gallery
As you know, Walter Simonson can draw in a number of styles, and each story here has more and more stylised artwork, starting with almost Joe Kubert-like realism and ending with Walt at his nutty and most stylised best. The Two-Face story is almost a newspaper-strip, in black and white (and red all over...), and printed sideways to give the newspaper-strip shape. As the art progresses, so do the deaths, starting with a man under a horse, and ending with a sun going nova.
I read a library copy, so it was money well-spent (I pay local government taxes); but I'm not sure I'd have felt the same if I had bought it myself. Walt Simonson's art is excellent, but I am not a fan of the short-story anthology, however it is themed. So, pay your money and take your choice.
on 29 August 2013
Firstly, this book may not be what you think or expect. It's not a Batman story featuring the return to the character by the great Walt Simonson, despite what the front cover shows. Secondly, it's not a Two Face story.
Instead, it's a series of vignettes with a strand running through each, following the journey of a coin throughout the centuries. The coin is special, being one of those received by Judas upon his betrayal of Christ, hence the title of this book.
Once you understand what this is story is not, you can enjoy the story for what it is. This is a great GN from a narrative and artistic perspective. Plus, it's great to see Simonson back illustrating a main stream book again.
This is NOT a Batman book. I know he’s featured prominently on the cover, along with Two-Face, but the two characters are in the book for a handful of pages before disappearing. I understand why DC did this, because Batman sells, but it is misleading.
I thought this was going to be - as strange a concept as it sounds - a weird origin story for Two-Face’s coin, the one he flips to decide the fate of his victims. But it turns out The Judas Coin isn’t even that lame! Instead, this is the story of one of the thirty pieces of silver that Judas gets for selling out Jesus, and that coin’s journey through the years, spreading bad luck to everyone it encounters.
From the crucifixion, the coin falls into the hands of a Roman soldier/gladiator, a Viking Prince, a pirate, a card shark from the old west, Two-Face, and finally a bounty hunter from the future. Not that the stories are connected or anything - they’re totally arbitrary and events in one story don’t affect the next. I get it, the coin brings bad luck to whoever has it - why repeat this in every story without variation, Walt Simonson?
Like other classic artists who turn their hands to writing as well as drawing, Simonson doesn’t prove to be much of a writer (though he’s not nearly as bad as Neal Adams. Batman: Odyssey was unforgivable!).
Simonson can’t make us care about any of the passing characters and the tenuous story isn’t in the least bit interesting - guys, the main character is an inanimate coin! Each of the stories contains a betrayal but when you barely know the characters, it’s hard to give a damn, especially when each one is so formulaic.
It’s a short book though so even if I was practically on the brink of dropping off to sleep most of the time, the low page count kept those lids open til the fast-approaching, completely boring finale. That and Simonson’s art are the only good things I can say about this book!
The Judas Coin is a totally forgettable, badly written and utterly boring original graphic novel that’s totally not worth bothering with.