The Kingstone Bible : Volume 7 : The Exiles
From Kingstone Media
*PLEASE NOTE: I received a hardcopy of this book to review for the publisher.
Kingstone Media has given comics readers another portion of the Old Testament in graphic novel form thanks to The Kingstone Bible: Volume 7: The Exiles. This interesting view into the plight of Israel is not only full of powerful storytelling but dynamic art, making it yet another valuable addition to the ongoing anthology (Volumes 1, 3, and 4, I have already reviewed). By collecting the stories of Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, the Kingstone Bible gives an impression of life for the Jewish people following their being taken to Babylon, while also highlighting some fantastic moments of this Biblical era.
Daniel provides the reader with the life story of one of the most beloved prophets. From Nebuchadnezzar through Belshazzar, this retelling shows the anti-Semetism of the times as well as the Lord’s ongoing faithfulness over the course of several decades. While some of the art could have gone further in detail (say, with Nebuchadnezzar’s going insane), the book is vibrant and moves at a relatively smooth pace.
Ezra follows Daniel and proves to be the weakest (and shortest) chapter in the volume. I applaud Kingstone for their attempt to capture Ezra’s plight, but I do not recall the thrust of the story at all, which is saying something given that I am writing this only two days after having reading it. That's just the truth. While I plan to revisit this piece of the volume, this interpretation of Ezra did not affect me on my initial reading.
Perhaps that is because it is overshadowed by Nehemiah, which is another wonderful segment of the volume, particularly because it highlights the difficulty of the prophet’s role in not only rebuilding the walls but also defending and governing the people. Nehemiah was a far more charismatic figure than I had previously considered, and the role his integrity played in his success is communicated beautifully. The best praise I can give Kingstone is that this volume made me want to revisit the text in a traditional Bible and see how it describes what Kingstone so vividly shows. This is some of my favorite work in The Kingstone Bible.
The book closes with Esther, and one could argue that Kingstone saved the best portion of the volume for last. While I enjoyed Nehemiah more, I think Esther is the best piece in The Exiles. Thanks to Beautiful art by Javier Salteres, the story of this Hebrew maiden turned Persian Queen is the quintessential tale of elegance and humility bringing honor and opportunity. I have never been so captivated by Esther’s story, and Kingstone’s telling allows it to move gracefully, like a fairy tale or modern princess film.
Noticeable by its absence is the voice of the Lord (except in the book of Daniel). It’s an interesting development considering the prior volumes that included the presence of God so overtly; however, in this portion of Israel’s story, it makes complete sense—and even benefits the narrative in providing context to just how far Israel as a nation had wandered. God did not speak to the Hebrews directly at this time; he used the prophets (and I think they are covered in another volume). His lack of direct, divine intervention is felt, but his ongoing faithfulness and mercy is as well.
Overall, The Exiles is a dense and moving tome. I hate to be hard on the book of Ezra, but it is a weak link in an otherwise fantastic chain of stories. The Kingstone Bible continues to surprise and delight with another great volume. Frankly, I wish I had a few million to toss their way to commission a full, chronological tale of the Scriptures, as they have the talent pool to create a vibrant and spiritually satisfying version. Until that day, however (ha, ha), their present anthology will suffice as a wonderful version of The Bible in the comics medium.
The Kingstone Bible, Volume 7: The Exiles is available at The Kingstone Media Group site, as well as Amazon.