Son of Samson #1: The Judge of God

Son of Samson #1: The Judge of God (2007)
by Zondervan
160 Pages - Black and White [ Adventure / Comedy / Biblical ]

Writer - Gary Martin
Artist - Sergio Cariello

Publisher summary: There's nothing like a jawbone–or melons and tree trunks–when it comes to a fight! When things get physical, Branan uses any weapon he can grab–just like his father, Samson. And like his dad, he can wield weapons other men can't even lift. Trouble is, he's not sure why God gave him such great power or what he's supposed to do with it. Trying to understand his father–and himself–Branan travels to the places where Samson did his amazing deeds. Along the way he performs some incredible heroics of his own, stirring up the anger of his dad's old enemies.

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 9 December 2007

Son of Samson offers a straightforward premise: Samson’s son traces his father’s footsteps. Making a children’s story about Samson may be a bad idea in the first place, but this title attempts to create a humorous tale that reflects the biblical stories while creating new morals. The result is merely mediocre.

Yet again, the art style is far from manga, even going so far as to have a very American introduction of the title worked into the dialogue. At the same time, they aren’t pretending their art is otherwise, so I’m willing to let this slide. More bothersome is the narration, with is a cumbersome way to advance the plot and frequently unnecessary. Similarly, Branen’s talking to himself feels overbearing – I’m fairly certain even young readers don’t need to be told what is being directly shown.

Overall the plot seems to be episodic with a straightforward antagonist developing. While I dislike this formula, they will have to develop the new plot soon, as they used up over half of the Samson stories in the first volume. This is even with a fair amount of filler material, which isn’t notably good or bad. Theoretically Branen will outgrow his father’s shadow as things progress, personally and in the narrative.

The humor is a mixed bag. I was expecting worse, given that they described the series with the word “antics,” but though there were some juvenile gags others were humorous. Notable is a Monty Python reference.

Theologically, this series strikes me as the most borderline. Samson isn’t exactly the best role-model. Though thankfully the volume acknowledges his flaws, it still serves to glorify perhaps the worst of the judges. It may be that the series will delve further into this issue as it progresses (as I imagine it won’t get into the latter chapters of Judges). So far Branen’s personal moral issues have been simplistic – he makes a mistake, falls down and confesses, then moves on.

Branen presents another issue altogether. The summaries indicate his strength was given by God, but the premise and much of the volume seems to rest on the assumption it was genetic. This may be complicated by the appearance of his sister in volume three (so God just happened to give super strength to all Samson’s children?) but I will withhold judgment until that time. For now I am willing to accept Branen as a God-empowered judge who may prove himself a better man than his father.

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