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Things That Turned Out Bad – That Time the Greek Gods Fought Jesus as Part of a Comic Book Crossover

In this column, I will spotlight plotlines by writers that probably weren’t a good idea at the time and have only become more problematic in retrospect. I’ll try to stick with stuff that’s more ill-conceived than flat-out offensive (like racist stereotypes of characters during the 1940s).

Today we look at a strange crossover between two Rob Liefeld creations, Glory and Avengelyne, that involves the Greek gods getting pissed at Christianity…

To set the scene, know that Avengelyne is, in effect, an angel. She was based on the likeness of Cathy Christian, who was often dressed up as Vampirella for events and covers and stuff like that.

She was invented by Rob Liefeld in 1995 for his independent Maximum Press comic book company.

avengelyneglory1

Glory is a half-Amazon/half-demon. She first appeared in 1993 in Liefeld’s Youngblood Strikefile at Image. She later had her own series at Image in 1995.

avengelyneglory2

In 1995, the two teamed up for the first time at Image…

avengelyneglory3

as well as Maximum Press…

avengelyneglory4

Then, in 1996, they had another team-up. This time, it was just at Maximum Press…

avengelyneglory5

The story, dubbed the Godyssey, was written by Rob Liefeld and Robert Napton and drawn by Ed Benes, Michael Chang and a bunch of inkers.

The comic opens with Avengelyne having a premonition that Zeus and the Greek gods are upset with Christianity since no one worships the Greek gods any more. Her premonition takes the form of a dream of Jesus on the cross…

(Click on the above double-page spread to enlarge it…if you dare!)

Now do note – this is a DREAM. This did not ACTUALLY happen in the comic. I suspect that that was something that occurred to the creators after the fact, as it seems kind of out of place as “just” a dream, but to be fair, they clearly DO state in the comic that it is a dream. However, as a premonition it is on point as Zeus IS pissed and it is up to Avengelyne and Glory to stop this war between the Greek gods and the angels of heaven before things went too nuts.

In any event, as you can see, this was not a good idea. And it has only grown sillier as the years have gone by. That said, this is likely not even in the top five worst things that Ed Benes has drawn, so that’s something at least!

If you can think of a good example for this column, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.

97 Comments

So just to make sure I’m clear on the premise: this is you sticking to stuff that’s not super offensive?

This is pretty tame as that era of comics go, Cass.

My…brain…hurts! Not to mention my eyes.

Anyone else remember Gail Simone defending Benes’ ridiculous artwork by saying, basically, “He can’t help it, y’all, he’s BRAZILIAN!”?

Bwahahahahahaha!!!! This is so bad and ridiculous, it’s good! Great find!

Heh… I must say Liefeld has a talent for making stuff so ridiculously stupid and ignorant it’s kinda funny in a pathetic way.

Glory is pretty much unrecognizable in her old form, isn’t she? I really miss the Keatinge/Campbell run.

What the hell is Rob Liefeld’s obsession with dreams and premonitions? “Deathmate” started the same way. Liefeld’s writing is only slightly better than his artwork. Speaking of that writing, are you sure this wasn’t ghost-written by Jim Valentino? He did the exact same god-awful faux-Old English in “Heroes Reborn: Avengers”.

By the way, the idea of “Action Jesus” can work if you do it right, like riding in on a chariot firing arrows at Satan during “Paradise Lost”. And I’m saying that as a Jewish guy (and an admitted huge fan of John Milton).

Why were the 90s Image guys so obsessed with religious references? Were they just trying to be “controversial”, but didn’t know how to do it in any way that didn’t make their comics seem like they were written by 14 year olds?

Steamboat maybe less offensive after all.

Looking at the way Avengelyne’s backside sticks out, the way her spine curves drastically inwards, and how she simultaneously manages to have her shoulders back but her chest thrust out, I wold have said she’s more half human/half preying mantis.

Do all the women these artists know have severe spinal malformation or something?

I’m extremely offended … by the Maximum Press covers. Not only are they emblematic of the worst excesses of the 90′s; they’re just an embarrassing mess of what a 12 year old Amish boy might think women look like under their clothes. Assuming that boy had never actually seen a woman, and didn’t have any grasp of basic human anatomy.

So, did they ever make action figures of smack down Jesus with a kung fu grip?

My reaction to the plot is dwarfed by my reaction to the art. The covers and the way all the Olympian women look almost identical.
But yeah, even great art would not save the story.

I agree with Black Doug that Action Jesus can work, but it’s one of the things it requires a lot of talent and skill to pull off.

Man, that Godyssey cover is AWFUL. Their spines are almost straight, rather than curved so that their backs would be about even with the front of their thighs. Sheesh, whoever drew that really needs to learn anatomy.

(And, because this is the Internet… yes, I am kidding.)

Story content aside, those Liefeld women are just appalling. I mean, this actually takes “brokeback” art to a new level of absurdity. Does Liefeld have any knowledge of human anatomy?

“Things That Turned Out Bad:” probably a phrase that could describe Liefeld’s entire career.

“Does Liefeld have any knowledge of human anatomy?”

If he does, which is highly doubtful, he chooses to ignore it.

Liefeld’s knowledge that fanboys will buy this stuff in droves trumps his knowledge of human anatomy.

Don’t most comics involving Liefeld, especially ones from the ’90s, fall under the category of things that turned out bad

Yeah pretty much everything Liefeld has done falls into “turned out bad”…

Since I can’t get the full context without reading the book, I have to wonder: how much self-awareness is involved in this? How much of this is played straight and how much of it is Liefeld being tongue-in-cheek and having fun with his own reputation at his own expense? Because if this is self-parody that’s deliberately bad and self-mocking, this is almost great. If not….yikes.

Andrew Collins

April 19, 2014 at 8:14 am

Wow, I can’t turn away from those two covers featuring Glory and Avengelyne together because they are like looking at a train wreck. Avengelyne’s waist is tinier than her head and on the first one, if you place a finger over her waist, the top half and lower half of her body look like they are from two people standing next to each other- THAT’s how brokeback her pose is on that cover. Plus, I love Glory’s pointless little frilly skirt on the one cover…

And this is what people in the 90s called ART? (shamefully shaken).

Felix H. Brown, III (@FelixHBrownIII)

April 19, 2014 at 8:24 am

THIS COMIC SUCKS!!!

Hola
Es más que obvio que el Gran Dios Zeús se lo garcha de parado al maricóncito del Nazareno.
Saludos.

I like it. The letters are tiring to read though. He has it spot on regarding the standing points of those religions.

Wasn’t this thing also infamous for being another project that was never finished?

Zeus fucks Jesus …

This is the very definition of holy shit.

[…] it happened. Jesus, at one time, fought the Greek Gods. The original article can be found over at Comic Book Resources, but why go there when you’re already here right? […]

Well that was….interesting…..I do like you timing this article with Easter

The One and Only

April 19, 2014 at 9:12 am

Such a bad idea that it almost got made into a movie.

Greek Gods versus Angels such a bad idea the two top shows of the decade, HERCULES and XENA ran several storylines involving the clash of the Old Greek Gods and Heaven.

Black Doug: Liefeld’s thing with premonitions is simple, they are a cheap, quick, plot device, that substitutes for an actual plot and for justifying a characters actions. Why is Heroman flying to Fakecountrystan? To stop Doctor Villain in his lair; you see, he had dreamonition!

How did I know, before even reading the article, that this was going to involve Image and/or Liefeld?

Apart from the art I don’t get what’s so offensive, various gods have always been shown in comic books. It doesn’t even specifically state that Jesus isn’t actually divine like Marvel has done to many active religions.

How can anyone believe in god in any universe where comics like this are allowed to happen?

Bill Williamson

April 19, 2014 at 9:35 am

Cracked actually featured this book once. I wouldn’t say it turned out ‘bad’ so much as ‘hilarious’.

Not offensive. But not entertaining either. This idea might have been pretty entertaining with a better creative team.

Let he who is without sin kick the first ass!

Andy E. Nystrom

April 19, 2014 at 10:16 am

Those two models only further emphasize the problems with the other covers. They’re attractive and don’t have distorted bodies.

Also, Liefeld should never EVER feature real women on his covers. They make his grotesque approximations of human form even more hideous.

Bill Williamson

April 19, 2014 at 10:18 am

@ Andy: They’ve also got realistic *ahem* proportions.

Just like the last guy said.

So that whole “Turn the other cheek” thing went right over Liefeld’s head, didn’t it? Unless he interpreted it to mean “rotate the buttocks perpendicular to the spine.”

Probably just as well that the lettering was so awful I could barely understand what anyone was saying.

I would buy this.

As someone who doesn’t believe in the Christian faith, I don’t find Kung Fu Jesus any more or less offensive or any more or less a bad idea than Comic Book’s portrayals of other fictional deities like Hercules and Thor. I suppose if you want to make the argument that the Greek gods and the Norse gods aren’t worshipped in any great number today, then I would point out the various uses in comic books of the Hindu gods as being seemingly okay. What’s the difference here?

By the way, I am in no way endorsing Liefeld’s terrible writing, I just don’t see how this one fits into the column’s theme.

Whatever you might have to say about Liefeld and such, I thought the scene was awesome, and I bought the comic just for that scene (and I was a pagan at the time of press). These days, I do follow Jesus, and I still love this scene. Jesus is a BAMF!

Bill Williamson

April 19, 2014 at 11:03 am

@Adam B: As someone who also doesn’t believe in the Christian faith, I’d say kung fu Jesus was fair game. In any case, Rob Liefeld could have come up with the most respectful and accurate to the Bible portrayal of Jesus and Christians, much like comic book fans, would’ve still found something to complain about.

Wow…honestly, I completely disagree. There was nothing “BAD” about this comic other than maybe at the time Liefeld pushed an envelope that many didn’t want pushed. A war between religious pantheon has been done before in recent years, so I would hardly call this a bad idea. Not even remotely bad by today’s standards….please CBR. You’re reaching now.

You know, given that Avengelyne was based on a real person and all, I always wondered what she felt about the time the character was drawn naked and pregnant (with a demon baby) in a parody of that Demi Moore cover. Sure, it’s fiction and all, but it certainly adds a level of “creepy” when both you, and your audience know that you’ve based your lead on a real (still living) person.

“Hey! I wanna create a super-hero based on you!”

“That’s great!”

“And then I’m going to have them sleep with a demon disguised as a priest, become pregnant, and then draw you naked, proudly carrying his demon-spawn for one of the covers!”

“Ooooooo-kay…..?”

There was nothing “BAD” about this comic

Heresy!

Bill Williamson

April 19, 2014 at 11:52 am

@ Mr. JR: Seeing as, from what I’ve discovered, Avengelyne’s real life basis was also her co-creator, I somehow doubt she minds.

Although, Kitty Pryde was named after one of John Byrne’s classmates and, other than the fact that her namesake has much bigger breasts than her, she didn’t seem to mind. In fact, the real Pryde was rather flattered that Byrne used her name.

The Snappy Sneezer

April 19, 2014 at 11:55 am

I have a lot of these Avengelyne comics, got most of them for 5 cents. Not a very good book but I do think I kind of liked the first few issues, the best art on it is that first cover there. The model for her is quite beautiful, I have one issue autographed by her, though she signed it as Avengelyne. The writing in the book is pretty bad, it matches the art. I remember her priest boyfriend recounting hearing the tales of Kin Arthur and not liking them because he consulted Merlin.

I would say it turned out bad because it was a Rob Leifeld story. As for the content, it’s no worse than having Hercules fight Amatsu-Mikaboshi in the Chaos Wars: unless you have no care for any person in Japan that may still have a worship for this symbol for a God of the August Star.

I’m a Christian and I mainly think that Jesus is drawn really, really hot in this, though He could use more chest hair.

It seems to me the bad part is Jesus’ jumping off the cross to have a fist fight.
Sure, fight are apart of comics, but part of the crucifixion is Christ suffering and giving himself to save mankind.

Whether he could kick ass or not, his message wasn’t going WWE on Zeus (Left Behnd notwithstanding )

Also, I recall Marvel apologizing for having Thor fight Vishnu in Thor # 301

Trash-talking deity smackdown in a T&A book. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

I am curious how this was found. The only way I can imagine somebody discovering this is by actually opening the Godyssey comic.

Do you see where I’m confused?

interesting to learn that rob liefield got away with a jesus vs the greek gods story since the comic industry has proven it gets cold feet over ever printing a story featuring jesus or even the devil in it. which jesus showing up in comics could be a column alone.

I’m Catholic and I’m actually not that offended by the idea in and of itself which could be entertaining in the right hands. It does appear though that the art and writing were not up to task to put it mildly, these panel actually cause me physical pain to look at and read.

I much prefer the monumental fist fight between God and the Devil by Erik Larsen in Savage Dragon #31. That was epic.

Those two models only further emphasize the problems with the other covers. They’re attractive and don’t have distorted bodies.

Yeah, that definitely makes Liefeld’s artwork on these covers even worse. He had actual real flesh & blood women modeling as Glory and Avengelyne for him and he STILL could not draw them with anatomy that was even close to realistic?!?

I keep flipping between being horrified (at everything, divine and women’s depictions alike) or laughing myself sick.
This is….there are no words for this that fall within polite guidelines.

Adam B yes, the history of treating Hindu gods as myths rather than a religion millions still believe in annoys me a lot. Still, speaking as a Christian who’s read and enjoyed multiple non-orthodox takes on Jesus, this wasn’t one of them.

Wow….just….wow. This is so freaking awful, it almost becomes beautiful. And is it just me, or when he draws a female figure, does Liefeld just draw a face, tits, and an ass, then try to figure out how to connect them? Because Stretch Armstrong couldn’t become *that* distorted!

What makes the writing truly brilliant is the use of Olde English:

Why dost he….
He hast bested Hercules!
Thee has yet to face the challenge….
Then thee who covets man….

Liefeld ought to Thee and Thou up everything he writes; the results are predictably entertaining. But if you can’t tell what’s wrong with the grammar there, you oughtn’t try unless you’re Liefeld.

People defending Liefeld’s work makes me laugh.

So, seriously, folks: can someone who was more involved with 90s comics than I explain how Rob Liefeld became a “superstar artist”? I’ve tried asking about this before, but never really gotten an answer, and this thing just makes me wonder all the more. The story is just dumb, but the art is pure dreck.

Oops, I didn’t notice Liefeld didn’t draw it. Should have realized earlier, actually.

Although the question still stands, especially looking at those covers.

That’s one crazy BADASS JESUS for y’all. No words can explain the existence of this idea.

Reminds me of this trailer – http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/152358

Bill Williamson

April 19, 2014 at 4:53 pm

@ Mr Speck: Rob Liefeld’s popularity all has to do with being at the right place at the right time.

The nineties came right after the eighties boom where (in my opinion) comics had reached their peak as far as art and storytelling were concerned. This meant more people were looking at comics (particularly speculators)

Comics gained a lot of new readers, particularly younger readers who hadn’t been exposed to the likes of Kirby, etc.

The key Image guys, Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, were doing super stylised versions of Kirby/Ditko stuff. Basically, taking Jack Kirby and ramping it up to the extreme. It was fresh and exciting to aforementioned new readers.

Rob Liefeld followed suit and was thus able to piggyback on the greater success of his business partners.

At least, this is my theory. Feel free to correct it.

Why not Egyptian GODS…That way you have Glory, Avengelyne and Isis and their boobs battling each other…

Andy E. Nystrom

April 19, 2014 at 5:38 pm

My thoughts parallel Bill’s but I may be able to expand a bit on some of what he said.

The 1980s was primarily a writing-focused period for comics from the big two, with the art generally being subservient to the storytelling. Oh, there were some distinct artists, particularly Bill Sienkiewicz, but a lot of the art, while great to look at wasn’t always distinct from one another (as Bill notes) and existed first and foremost to tell the story along.

With most of the early Image guys (with Valentino a notable exception) the storytelling became subservient to the art. McFarlane would devote a column of many of his Infinity Inc pages to have characters posing for no reason, and soon such poses in the form of splash pages started to become more prominent. There was a strong “in your face” quality to the art. While Liefeld probably had the worst anatomy skills of any of the early Image artists, he was definitely “in your face” art first, story second. As they gained popularity at Marvel and DC some like McFarlane (who by then was actually good at visual storyline) were allowed to script their work. The wring was terrible but sales were great. The lesson learned was there was a certain demographic that was interested first and foremost in the flashy art. Liefeld couldn’t provide good anatomy art, but flashy art he could do.

Now I don’t want to paint all the early Image crowd with the same brush. McFarlane while not a good scripter is a good visual storyteller, and Larsen’s decades long run on Savage Dragon can only be explained by people getting involved in his stories. But all of them including Liefeld managed to play the young upstarts at the right time, at a time when a certain crowd wanted to see an in-your-face art first, story second approach.

This is so absurd that is just silly not even managed to be offensive.
About Ed Benes: yes, this art is terrible, but seems the he evolved a “little”.: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Pin-up-WonderWoman-dineicolors-baixa-356800987

I do understand why some people would be offended by this storyline, however it’s really no more ridiculous than any other ‘super-hero’ comic book that uses religious figures. Certainly pre-Christian and non-middle eastern monotheism (i.e. other than Christianity, Judaism and Islam) religions have been and continue to be fodder for all kinds of fantastic tales whether it be native American beliefs, European pagan or African traditions. The fact is some religious beliefs are given more weight than others. To me Jesus is no less a mythical figure than Orpheus or Thor and yes I know few people still worship the latter two.

when he draws a female figure, does Liefeld just draw a face, tits, and an ass, then try to figure out how to connect them?

That would explain a lot.

(I expect I will be laughing out loud at this thought on and off for the next few days.)

Say what you will about the art and subject matter – it is pretty poor.

However…

… isn’t it great that Liefeld and others can actually write and draw such an outlandish (and possibly offensive depending on you POV) story about a Christian diety without having to go into hiding, fearing for their lives, and not having the whole thing result in riots and effigies being burned in the streets.

That’s all I think when I saw this.

This would make great Christian Propaganda, actually.

And I can’t believe some of you comment on the art. This post is clearly about a controversial storyline. Not how a spine is drawn.

I had a conversation with my brother once about Jesus beating on the Greek gods when we were kids. If only we’d know about Image.

@Bucky Barnes: I think most people are talking about the art because the storyline is more stupid than anything else. I can see how some people might find it offensive, but it’s more standard Liefeld nonsense than really “controversial”.

I’m not sure what the problem is with this story (i haven’t read it)if Zeus and the Greek Gods where real i could totally see them being mad at Jesus or at least placing the blame on him for people not worshiping the old gods.

The only real problem i have is with the “it’s only a dream” aspect because it seems like it would be an interesting story even if the only way to resolve it would be to have Jesus win since if the Greek Gods would win that would piss off the Xtians and then everyone in that comic would have to worship the Greek Gods and probably throw our modern society out of whack.

Well, it’s not that Jesus is depicted in comics that can be offensive, but how Jesus is depicted that can be offensive. “South Park” actually pulls it off well, in its usual tongue in cheek manner, so much so that you can summon him in South Park’s “Stick of Truth” game…which is awesome:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zrh6RtJuvEo

So, this isn’t a big deal to me.

@ Bucky Barnes: The art depicts women in a derogatory manner. I think that’s more offensive than the fact that Jesus is in it…

… isn’t it great that Liefeld and others can actually write and draw such an outlandish (and possibly offensive depending on you POV) story about a Christian diety without having to go into hiding, fearing for their lives, and not having the whole thing result in riots and effigies being burned in the streets.

I agree. It certainly is wonderful to live in a secular society where Christians have (mostly) been deprived of that much power. Thank you, Founding Fathers!

WHOOSH!

To be fair, St. Paul personified the victory of Catholicism as Jesus literally defeating the pagan pantheon to prove the superiority of God in the Roman Empire… But I’m sure Liefeld wasn’t working from any scriptural basis. That text is illegible, too. Wow. Bad.

This isn’t too far off from what is building up in the web comic God Complex, http://godcomplex.thecomicseries.com/comics/75

Which promises to (eventually) become the Game of Thrones of mythological deities.

“By the way, the idea of “Action Jesus” can work if you do it right, like riding in on a chariot firing arrows at Satan during “Paradise Lost”. And I’m saying that as a Jewish guy (and an admitted huge fan of John Milton).”

I’ve said the same thing, and while not Jewish, I have been an atheist since I started middle school like a decade ago. Paradise Lost is epic, and if you keep it in that tone, Action Jesus works.

[…] At one point in time, multiple people actually thought it would be a good idea to have a comic serie… […]

Green Lex Luthor

April 22, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I don’t get what the problem is. This is clearly the greatest comic ever made.

I’ll try to say something positive about this…

The lettering font Zeus uses is impressive?

Well, that’s the best I can do.

For Bad-Ass Action Jesus you can’t beat the SOUTH PARK guys.

He throws razor sharp halo-rangs, for Pete’s sake!

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