The End Is Nigh In The Fantastic Clive Barker’s Next Testament

Clive Barker’s Next Testament Omnibus contains all twelve issues of the biblical-horror epic from creators Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Night Breed) and Mark Alan Miller. Next Testament asks a simple question: What would happen if God ultimately did come back to Earth? Considering this is from the mind that gave the horror world Hellraiser, the answer is horrifyingly simple:

He would destroy everything.

Clive Barker's Next Testament. Page 1; Julian Awakens From A Dream.
Clive Barker’s Next Testament || BOOM! Studio 2019 2019

Yet, despite all the blood and guts strewn about, Next Testament is ultimately a positive reaffirmation of faith. If not in a powerful deity, then the bonds that we share with each other.

But Next Testament Is a Clive Barker Story After All…

So the horror is at the forefront. Next Testament begins when a rich philanthropist named Julian discovers the tomb of a powerful creature named Wick. Not only does Wick claim to be a God — but that he is The God written in the Holy Bible. Well, at least, the one written in The Old Testament. True to the reputation he garnered in that section of the Bible, Wick begins killing and destroying everything in order to replace it with a world he deems as worthy.

Clive Barker's Next Testament. Page 10; Julian meets Wick.
Clive Barker’s Next Testament || BOOM! Studios 2019

On the opposite spectrum is the philanthropist’s son, Tristan, and his fiancé, Elspeth, who are thrust straight into the middle of Wick’s plans when they attempt to find a way to take down Wick. 

How Do You Defeat A God?

The sheer horror of Clive Barker’s Next Testament is not only if the god that billions of people worship is an apathetic monster, but also the sheer magnitude of said monster’s power. With one snap, Wick eviscerates scores of people and levels entire cities to the ground in a single second. Artist Haemi Jang (Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: The Road Below) captures it all in brutal, vivid detail.  It’s a reminder that for all of our accomplishments, we are nothing but fragile skin and bones, and Jang’s illustrations show that contrast: that we are ultimately nothing in the eyes of God.

But Next Testament is a positive tale, and considering the reputation that Clive Barker often garners, Next Testament is nowhere near as nihilistic as you might think. For all the horror of Wick’s actions, there is a streak of black comedy that runs throughout Next Testament. Wick kills for the pettiest reasons: people ask the wrong questions, or people simply annoy him, which results in horrific violence. It is all terrifying to behold, but it is a bit hard to not see the absurdity of a god obliterating everything in his path for the simplest of reasons.

Clive Barker's Next Testament. Page 9; Tristan Realizes Something Is Wrong.
Clive Barker’s Next Testament || BOOM! Studios 2019

Tristan & Elspeth

However, it’s the story of Tristan and Elspeth that provide the emotional core to Next Testament. Their journey serves as a contrast to Wick’s own selfishness: Despite the horror and violence they witness, they never lose faith in each other. For all of humanity’s flaws, it is our ability to find beauty and love even in the face of hopelessness that remains our enduring quality.

If there is a single complaint, it’s that while the lead up to the climax is engaging and terrifying, the actual ending hews a little too close to superhero shenanigans. Not necessarily a bad thing, but considering the weighty subject of the comic, it is a bit disappointing that it ends with powerful beings simply beating each other up for the fate of the planet.

Clive Barker’s Next Testament Is An Engaging Piece Of Fiction Regardless

Clive Barker’s Next Testament is a comic about religion that doesn’t talk down to people who have faith in Christ. Plenty of horrific things happen throughout the course of the story, but Barker and Miller keep New Testament from being a smug morality lesson against believers. Next Testament is first and foremost interested in telling an entertaining horror story and it succeeds at that.

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