Kingdoms #2: Scions of Josiah

Kingdoms #2: Scions of Josiah (2007)
by Zondervan
160 Pages - Black and White [ Biblical / Politics / Action ]

Author - Ben Avery
Artist - Mat Broome, Harold Edge

Publisher summary: Jehoahaz's three-month reign comes to an end as he is imprisoned in Egypt and succeeded as king by his brother Jehoiakim. After Jehoiakim has been subject to Nebuchadnezzar for several years, the king rebels against Babylon, and for the remainder of his reign is beaten into submission by the attacks of Babylon's allies in this second volume of the manga-style series.

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 18 January 2008

The second volume of Kingdoms brings the story into its own. Certain aspects have reduced quality but others have improved. Anyone who liked the first volume to even a limited degree will find this a worthy continuation.

Unfortunately, one of the weakened aspects is also one of the most obvious: general art. One must wonder if the artists were forced to complete this volume in a short period of time. There are a number of minor oversights, such as Berekiah’s goatee vanishing in a few panels. Many of the conversations have strange angles, which make it even more difficult to follow (already complicated by homogenous character design). At one point there is use of dramatic lines, but this feels weak and out of place. Among these complaints there are a few excellent panels, such as Iddo’s small “No” near the end.

Thankfully, the story has smoothed itself out from the first volume and is probably more representative of what readers can expect from the series overall. The prologue sets the theme for the rest of the book and the other insert (the story of Ehud) fits well into its story. Much of the volume is concerned with the reign of Jehoahaz, which is a well-crafted event. It takes the sparse history provided in the Bible and expands upon it with historical facts and solid fictitious elements. Having this begin and end with the sentences from scripture was a nice way of framing the event.

More of a concern in this volume is Iddo’s family, which will obviously increase in significance over subsequent volumes. Their characterization is neither subtle nor overly forward, but it serves its purpose adequately. However, the plot development at the end makes it uncertain how the story will proceed. At the current pace it seems difficult to maintain this manner of storytelling over eight volumes.

Other characters also serve minor but notable roles. It was good to see the Pharaoh presented as someone who could logically be the ruler of a world power, instead of the butt of jokes as is often seen. The politics surrounding him and a few other incidents were generally solid and much preferable to action sequences. Jehoahaz’s bard was also a memorable character, barely appearing but showing a clear personality.

Reading through this volume, one encouraging thing struck me: Iddo has very sound theology. I could list many places where his interpretation of events is solidly in the tradition of the prophets, but it is simpler to say it is consistently good. This is necessary for a story covering a time when false prophets and explanations for current events were abundant. It is this factor that places the series among other worthwhile pieces of biblical fiction.

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