Hand of the Morningstar #2: Resurrection

Hand of the Morningstar #2: Resurrection (2007)
by Zondervan
160 Pages - Black and White [ Action / Superhero ]

Creators - Brett Burner and Mike Miller

Publisher summary: Have well-meaning missionaries unleashed a storm? Thinking that Titan and his comrades destroyed the Tempest, and grateful to them for battling thugs sent to wipe out an African village, the world hails them as heroes. But as the world waits for the mysterious Morningstar to be revealed, a wounded man washes ashore upon the coast of Argentina. With a missionary and his daughter caring for him, Michael Tempe begins to regain his strength. Will they discover who he really is? And can the love of God and of a godly young woman calm the storm that rages within him? Or will the Tempest once again be loosed upon the world?

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 27 January 2008

The second volume of Hand of the Morningstar has the same quality as the first and shows that the writers are also capable of handling religious material. As a whole this is a quieter volume, but it develops the story and provides a stronger base of characterization for the plot development yet to come.

Numerous things throughout the volume reminded me why I enjoyed the series. It opens with intelligent dialogue and the characters are actually smart. Chuck is a welcome addition to the cast as a normal but wise person and his scenes are almost always solid. Having actual Spanish instead of constant translations is also a welcome bit of realism, though I question if “gringo” is really a standard term in Argentina. There were even moments of deeper symbolism (i.e. not a cross) and ironic juxtaposition (an end to pain and suffering… only $7.99!).

Though the Hand and other characters aren’t left out, this volume does focus primarily upon Tempest. That seems a wise choice, as it balances the large cast of the first volume. Once again, the characters seem authentic, even when limited to a few scenes. A romance begins and comes to fruition within the volume, but at least this was done through accelerated time – better to imply the relationship than to force it into an awkwardly low number of scenes. Meanwhile, the Morningstar is gaining definition – culminating in a sketch of his actual character? It remains to be seen exactly how this aspect will develop.

As before, the story is more serious than your usual Christian fare. Violence is shown brutally but not overdone, either with guns or with super powers. The story doesn’t step around the fact that superheroes kill when they get angry. If this seems a bit dark, it is only because much of Christian literature has been white-washed.

Those powers are also worth some speculation, given new developments. Tempest’s abilities are confirmed to be natural and implied to be inborn instead of granted by God, which is a solid decision. How this will relate to the Hand’s powers remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the division of power among them seems inequitable: Titan is your classic Superman package whereas Shango is vulnerable even to bullets and Kwan Yin’s only powers seem to be martial arts and the ability to fight in a weird dress.

But none of this is different than before: what is new in volume two is religious content. After never even mentioning God in the first, this volume delves into the spiritual more significantly. That’s acceptable, given that this is a Christian story, and especially so because it is well handled. Morality is as complex as it is in real life – none of the heroes is pure good or pure evil (as seen in Titan and Shango’s conflict). The Morningstar continues to take language traditionally used for God. I approve of this wholeheartedly; not only is it appropriate for his character, it could help readers develop a more mature faith that questions such ideas.

Obviously the major religious event of the volume is the conversion of the protagonist. This is also accomplished through accelerated time, which avoids dealing with many issues but also makes the events seem more realistic. Though the conversion sequence itself is possibly the weakest scene, it could have been much worse. At least Chuck preaches a more holistic salvation than some, and this is the kind of decent evangelicalism readers should expect.

As with the last volume, one thing stands out: context. A character reads a verse that directly applies to him, but it’s actually read within its chapter. It would be difficult to overemphasize how pleased I am by this. Other religious elements are also handled well: the characters deal with prayer like real humans do instead of having easy cause and effect spirituality from the author (which would cause problems, given that the prayer for rain also leads to a hurricane).

Lastly, I am pleased to note that the presence of serious questions about faith is acknowledged without being dismissed. Though this is an action story, not a theological treatise, it is good to know that the characters involved struggle with real issues. It provides a much deeper context for the continuation of the series.

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