Every Story Needs a Villain
In a religion built on redemption and forgiveness, one man had to sacrifice himself for everyone…and it wasn’t Jesus. Judas Iscariot journeys through life and death, grappling with his place in “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” and how much of his part was preordained. Jeff Loveness (Marvel’s Nova) and Jakub Rebelka (Namesake) discuss their exploration of the classic biblical character.
Judas is one of the most well-known betrayers in literature; what’s it like exploring the story from his side?
Loveness: To me, he’s got the biggest possible hole to dig himself out of. He betrayed the Son of God…that’s not really something you can just wash away. He wakes up in Hell, feeling like he absolutely deserves to be there. But then Judas learns that he was preordained to betray Jesus. Jesus knew this the whole time and let it happen anyways. Judas then feel like Jesus betrayed him. Jesus basically sent his friend to Hell to glorify Himself, and that shatters Judas.
It’s going to be very fun to flip the Biblical perspective and look at Jesus in an adversarial light. As Judas journeys Hell, he’ll make shaky alliances and learn more about the grand story he’s a cog in. It’s a really fun way to explore the ongoing debate of free-will vs. determinism and how much of a say we really have in our lives.
Rebelka: I really like this character. I’ve always felt more sympathy for the villains than the heroes. Judas in this book is a character with soul.
What is it about Judas that inspired you to create a comic series about him?
Loveness: I was raised in a very religious home and grew up learning the Bible from cover to cover. I was always fascinated by Judas. We are supposed to revile him, but he always struck me as a guy who was born to betray Jesus and never had a chance to do anything else with his life. It was all preordained, and Judas was trapped in the story.
I wanted to explore that concept—of being trapped in a story—and you’re the bad guy of that story. I wanted to explore what happened next to Judas, and put him on this odyssey through life and death as he tries to redeem himself…or seek revenge.
Jakub, what are your artistic influences?
Rebelka: I have many influences, superimposing one another over time—European and American comics artists, Polish and German painters. Recently I have discovered the art of Richard Dadd; the general mood of his work had a huge impact on my work for Judas.
What are you most excited for readers to experience in Judas?
Loveness: I’m really excited for everyone to see Jakub’s amazing art. I’ve been blown away by how he’s rendered Hell. It’s absolutely unique and devastating.
I’m also excited to show people a dark, new take on these iconic characters—perhaps the most iconic characters. It feels weird to write dialogue for Jesus…He’s got some pretty famous lines already, but I’m doing my best.
Rebelka: Judas will take the reader on a journey to Hell. It’s like a videogame, going deeper and discovering the horrible realm of Satan, fighting “bosses” along the way. Pure fun.
Available at your local comic shop November 13!