Kingdoms #4: Valley of Dry Bones

Kingdoms #4: Valley of Dry Bones (2008)
by Zondervan
160 Pages - Black and White [ Biblical / Politics / Action ]

Author - Ben Avery
Artist - Gary Shipman

Publisher summary: Ezekiel has received a terrifying vision from God, and the Spirit has transported him to Babylon to prophecy to the Israelites in exile. Although he has learned that everything God tells him is true, he continues to be amazed at the Lord's incredible ways such as the day he preaches to a valley of dry bones only to watch them reassemble and take on life.

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 10 August 2008

This volume is all about Ezekiel, though it includes a major step in the life of Iddo. It also marks a fairly major shift in the series Ė readers are with the exiles now, thereís a new artist, and one chapter of the overarching story may be coming to a close. At its heart, though, Kingdoms is still about the prophets in narrative form.

By far the most obvious change is that the series has a new artist. The art is now a lot darker, literally and symbolically. I like the change, actually, provided that it didnít bring with it a certain change of tone I will address later. Some of the problems with flow and character recognition are also gone, though there is no example of an action sequence to compare.

As before, the prophets are covered in a dynamic fashion that takes them seriously on multiple levels. It is especially interesting to see the story of Ezekielís wife being portrayed as every bit as tragic as it would have been. A considerable amount of space is given to the object lessons in Ezekiel, which feels excessive but may be appropriate given that they are a major part of his message.

Iddo is reunited with his family, including his estranged son. Given the amount of time he has been gone, it is no surprise that his son has a great deal of hatred for him. What is a surprise is that later in the volume there is a time skip and suddenly all of his cynicism is resolved. While this hasnít been a character-based story overall, this is the first major element that has struck me as wholly off. None of the issues raised are really given closure and this change feels rather abrupt.

This may be, in part, because of the swift pace seen throughout this series. As I mentioned, there is another time skip of a number of years, taking Iddo much closer to the end of his life. However, this volume may also explain why: his grandson is apparently Zachariah. That is a positive note, though if there are any non-Christians in the target audience this ending will be lost on them (the same might be true for the many Christians who donít know anything about the Bible).

None of these things are as much of a concern as an apparent change in the nature of the story. One of the best parts of the series has been how it portrays prophecy subtly, avoiding any flashy displays of power or direct words of God outside of what the prophets speak. This volume loses that as we see Ezekielís visions directly. Not only does he engage in the divine necromancy indicated by the cover, he meets God (who is apparently the Human Torch) face to face. Admittedly, these things are in Ezekiel and they needed to be covered. But I think it is unfortunate that they are shown in such a direct fashion.

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