Judas is a 2017 graphic novel written by Jeff Loveness and illustrated by Jakub Rebelka.
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. In a religion built on redemption and forgiveness, one man had to sacrifice himself for everyone…and it wasn't Jesus.
This work provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Evil: While it was Satan who whispered into Judas' ear and convinced him to betray Jesus, it is implied by Satan that he is not in full control of his actions, forced into the role of villain by God in order to be made an example of, just as Judas, Goliath, Pharaoh Ramses II and Jezebel were.
- According to Satan, many of the villains of the Bible (himself, Judas, Goliath, Rameses and Jezebel) were all essentially on the same moral playing field as its many heroes, the only real difference being that God did nothing to help them (often actively manipulating them in the case of Rameses) because he needed a Necessarily Evil to fight for his own plans. The comic does nothing to disprove this, leaving it up to interpretation.
- Arc Words: There are two that repeatedly show up at key points of the story:
- "Come. Follow me."
- "This was always your story."
- The Anti-Nihilist: Judas forgoes all belief in the story of God, his divine plan, and admits the world is just awful, but chooses to believe in Love and Jesus' goodwill as something the world needs because of all its suffering. This eventually leads him to follow Jesus' example as Hell's own friendly messiah.
- Break the Cutie: Jesus after being infused with the sins of all mankind and seeing the suffering that will eventually be carried out in his name.
- The Chosen One: It is implied by the end that Judas was sent to Hell not due to his betrayal, but rather he was sent there to act as a messiah figure to those who were already damned.
- Death by Origin Story: The story kicks off after Judas was Driven to Suicide over guilt from betraying Jesus and his time in Hell for his actions.
- Despair Event Horizon: Taking on all of mankind's sins causes one for Jesus, to the point he is physically incapable of moving, allowing Satan to trap him in the deepest part of hell.
- Easy Road to Hell: Many of the people in Hell were purposefully manipulated by God to be made an example of for his followers. Even Lot's wife, who's only sin was looking back when Sodom was being destroyed, is now frozen forever as a statue in Hell.
- Evil Stole My Faith: Judas had this problem after the death of his mother and witnessing the evils of the world. Once Jesus appeared, he found new hope but was discouraged again when Jesus decided not to use his seemingly boundless power to end the evil and suffering in the world.
- Forgiveness: The flaw in Satan's plan is that, if Judas forgives Jesus/God for his not entirely voluntary part in Jesus' death, Jesus will be absolved of his burden and able to leave hell. In the end, he does.
- God Is Flawed: Invoked by Satan who believes God to not just be flawed but Evil, Judas, and eventually Jesus himself as all end up acknowledging how the story of how reality played out according to God's plan is unfair, unknowable, and essentially unjust to many and favorable to others and any God who makes such a reality is flawed in turn.
- Hell Is War: This is the fate of all warriors who wind up in Hell, notably Goliath, forced to fight each other in a never ending battle.
- Holy Halo: Inverted, Judas has a black halo around his head throughout the story, as an inversion of how the other apostles and saints are depicted.
- I Fell for Hours: Jezebel's fate in Hell is to fall forever with no bottom in sight.
- Loophole Abuse: How Satan manages to get Jesus damned, thought it's averted in that Jesus was meant to be damned to Hell as part of God's plan. As Satan put it, when Jesus died on the cross he took in all the sins of mankind. As such those sins must be payed for as decreed by God, and Jesus is cast down to Hell to pay for them, much to Jesus' shock.
- Messianic Archetype: Amazingly, for a story with Jesus in it, it is Judas who exhibits these traits. His entire time in Hell, the artistic style portrays him with a black Holy Halo similar to how saints and Jesus himself is portrayed in Christian iconography. Jesus himself is deconstructed as the archetype by showing how despite his good intentions and miracles, he does not relate to normal people due to being the Son of God and is pretty ignorant of the feelings of others and their insecurities.By the end of the story, Judas' forgiveness saves Jesus from Hell and Judas ends up becoming a Good Shepherd to the damned, even beginning to resemble him as well.
- Red Right Hand: In reflection of his sin, Judas wakes up in Hell wearing a necklace made from the silver coins he was paid in for his betrayal, resembling the noose he used to take his own life.
- Rivers of Blood: In reflection of his death at the Red Sea, Pharaoh Rameses II is forced to ride a chariot of skeletal horses along the crashing waves of an ocean of blood for eternity.