Anastasis: A Graphic Novel about Christ’s Descent into Hades (Review)
In a world where Christian media is often a sad parody of the secular standard, Anastasis stands out as an exemplary work of theological and artistic import. The short 54-page graphic novel, written and designed by Creative Orthodox, is centered around Christ’s descent into hades. Even though the theme is theologically rich in content, the way it is written makes the topic both approachable and engaging for an audience of all ages. Of particular note is its unique style alongside its use of color scheme for thematic effect.
When I cracked it open to give it a read, I found myself drawn into the world of the underworld, where great prophets and kings eager
ly await their release. Pieces of the redemptive puzzle are revealed slowly as David cries out, “How long, O Lord!” and Isaiah prophesies. The community of the righteous gather their resources and piece together what they know. Then, suddenly, a child is called out of hades by the voice of the Lord – John the Forerunner arrives and prepares the way for the king. Death (which is personified via St. Ephrem’s form) is concerned; the evil one assures him all is fine, that soon he will imprison that wiley prophet from Nazareth as well. Look, now, he is being crucified.
But it is a trap. Christ descends as conqueror. Death is gutted; the doors of hades are broken down. Adam is raised up along with the others imprisoned there. The color scheme turns from dark to light as the kingdom of death is destroyed.
Not only is this little book a creative envisioning from the perspective of those in hades, it is an attempt to re-engage culture in a theological conversation about Christ’s descent into hades – his defeat of death. The back of the book details sources that were conferred (by page) and the icons used for inspiration.
I could not stop reading it. And now, even after having finished it, I cannot stop thinking about it. This book should be distributed to every Orthodox teen in America (OCF and Church School Leaders, this is a great Christmas gift idea for you to give to your kids). Godparents, parents, and all Orthodox Christians: Christmas is coming, buy and give this book. You won’t regret it.