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Why You Should Read: BATTLE POPE

At my very first comic convention, I found a book from Funk-O-Tron comics that changed how I viewed comic books.

Back in 2002 or 2003, my memory is a little bit foggy now, I headed to my first comic book convention: Wizard World Chicago (Now known as Chicago Comic Con). I wasn't really reading comic books, at the time, but I wanted to see what the big deal was. After a few hours walking around and looking at some of the creator-owned books, I bumped into the Funk-O-Tron table, which only had one book that caught my eye: BATTLE POPE. The cover was so ridiculous and the guy behind the table, which I'm pretty sure now was writer Robert Kirkman, sold me on it. I bought the trade of the first four issues and fell in love with the book.

BATTLE POPE is responsible for getting me back into reading comic books. This book is responsible for my one-time job at a comic book shop, which led to my job here at Comic Vine. I cannot say the same thing about any other comic/book/movie/television show. The creative team on this book may look pretty familiar. Robert Kirkman wrote it and Tony Moore did the art. This is the same team for the first six issues of THE WALKING DEAD.

So what is BATTLE POPE actually about? In this original 4-issue series, Pope Oswald Leopold II is not your typical pope. He's a heavy drinker and heavy womanizer. Although he's a bit short and looks out of shape, he was trained by Bruce Lee in martial arts. One day, God comes down to Earth and announces the Rapture, but only a few people ascend to Heaven. The pope is left on Earth, and now that the Rapture has happened, the gates of Hell have opened and demons have decided to raid Earth, mainly to have normal, Earthly lives.

One day, the Pope ends up cutting off a demon's arm in a bar fight, and later on, that same demon comes back and kills Pope Leopold. The pope awakes in front of God and Jesus (wearing a shirt that says "What Would I Do?" God sends Pope on a mission to save Saint Michael who has been captured by Lucifer in Hell. God gives the pope some super-powers and beefs him up and the pope and Jesus go on their way to save Saint Michael.

So why should you read BATTLE POPE? Well, the reprints under Image Comics has some new colors to it, since the original Funk-O-Tron books were in completely in black and white. That's one thing to look forward to! Aside from that, this book has a great sense of humor to it, as long as you don't mind a little poking fun at religion. It's a very bizarre and hilarious take on a super-heroesque character. Kirkman's writing is pretty over-the-top but it all keeps in the same tone of a overly-masculine book, in which you'll completely forget how wrapped up in religion the whole story is. Plus, there's nothing funnier than Jesus being a sidekick to the pope.

On top of the ridiculous story and solid comedy writing, we get to see some great artwork from Tony Moore. Just like the writing, it's over-the-top and hearkens back to 90s Marvel where everyone has muscles on top of more muscles... on top of more muscles. Each panel and page is filled to the brim with art. There is no wasted space here. It's an visually stimulating book. If you enjoyed the first 6 issues of the current DEADPOOL series, then you'll also want to read this. His art conveys the same humor here, and it's interesting to see what a top notch artist's work was like in their earlier days.

As I said before, if you're looking to pick up this story, as well as the others, Image reprinted these, in color, a few years back. It came out in single issues, as well as trades, so you shouldn't have a problem finding these books. In addition, you get to see older work from Robert Kirkman (INVINCIBLE, WALKING DEAD) and Tony Moore (WALKING DEAD, EXTERMINATORS). It's interesting to see where bigger name creators came from, and this series really made me a fan and follow of Kirkman's and Moore's work. While this book didn't have a long run, the first, four issue, story still holds up. It's rare to see a concept this ridiculous actually work and entertain as a series. If you like a fun book that's extremely over-the-top, then you're sure to enjoy BATTLE POPE.

Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring is a writer, comedian, and host of Vs The Net and Barely Watchable. Follow him on Twitter to tell him how much you hate him.

23 Comments
Posted by thatthomclancy

Stop telling me to buy things, Mat.

Posted by inferiorego

Stop telling me to buy things, Mat.

I'm going to tell you, in person, a few hours from now.

Posted by thatthomclancy

@thatthomclancy said:

Stop telling me to buy things, Mat.

I'm going to tell you, in person, a few hours from now.

That will be acceptable. I'm looking forward to live tweeting how funny you aren't. Unless you're funny. Then I won't be tweeting.

Edited by SoA

battle pope was great kinda hoping he makes an appearance in the kirkmanverse soon

Edited by theTimeStreamer

nuns with huge ...... crosses. praise the lord because he has giveth generously.

Edited by Yokergeist

Looks like a good series

Edited by StMichalofWilson

@inferiorego: Sir, you have attracted my curiosity. I shall find this Battle Pope and read it!

Edited by ARMIV2

I remember I saw an issue on a rack way back when I was younger...

...

The labels are there for a reason, kiddies.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Anything by Kirkman is gold I say; that said I sadly have not read this yet. Need to track it down!

Posted by Onemoreposter

YES. This article is PURE YES. lol. Disclaimer: DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE STRONGLY RELIGIOUS.

Otherwise, this comic is so much fun it's amazing.

Edited by Fenderxx

.... why did I not know about this .... i just got back from my comic store .... must go back ... but just made tacos ... but must go back ... !!!

Posted by DonFelipe

@onemoreposter said:

YES. This article is PURE YES. lol. Disclaimer: DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE STRONGLY RELIGIOUS.

Otherwise, this comic is so much fun it's amazing.

I don't think it's that offensive really. After all Battle Pope is the hero fighting against the evils of the world and underworld for that matter. Kirkman's GOD really cares (unlike our GOD who doesn't even seem to be around all the time. seriously, where is this guy?). If anything I'd be more worried about how Kirkman portrayed Jesus as the total loser who even gets used to hanging on that cross after a while (the irony... LOL).

Battle Pope is awesome! A real eye-opener, full of irony and sarcasm. I'd say if anyone can't get these - irony and sarcasm - he/she shouldn't pick up Battle Pope. If you can you're safe no matter religious or not.

I know it's a thin line. ROFL

Last not least, lets hope for the return of the Battle Pope. Come on, Kirkman!

Posted by G_Money_Christmas

I want this! It looks awesome!

Posted by FalcomAdol

Why? Tony Fucking Moore.

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Posted by JetiiMitra

@onemoreposter said:

YES. This article is PURE YES. lol. Disclaimer: DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE STRONGLY RELIGIOUS.

Otherwise, this comic is so much fun it's amazing.

I don't think it's that offensive really. After all Battle Pope is the hero fighting against the evils of the world and underworld for that matter. Kirkman's GOD really cares (unlike our GOD who doesn't even seem to be around all the time. seriously, where is this guy?). If anything I'd be more worried about how Kirkman portrayed Jesus as the total loser who even gets used to hanging on that cross after a while (the irony... LOL).

Battle Pope is awesome! A real eye-opener, full of irony and sarcasm. I'd say if anyone can't get these - irony and sarcasm - he/she shouldn't pick up Battle Pope. If you can you're safe no matter religious or not.

I know it's a thin line. ROFL

Last not least, lets hope for the return of the Battle Pope. Come on, Kirkman!

I have a fairly decent grasp on sarcasm and irony (although I'd call it more satire than anything else) and I found the thing hugely offensive. I'm not Catholic or even that religious. There was nothing eye-opening about it. The best I could say is it was mildly entertaining.

It's worth noting, though, that I read all four issues in one sitting and couldn't stop once I started.

Posted by nappystr8

I read the first volume of Battle Pope awhile back. I though it was a pretty fun book, but didn't quite live up to the potential of it's brilliant conceit. I think one day, when I have a lull in my book load, I might try to pick up the next volume to see if the book picks up.

Felt the same way about Walking Dead vol. 1. I wonder if Robert Kirkman's work just takes time to build and grow, or if his stuff simply isn't for me and my tastes.

Posted by RedHood13

I need to find this!

Edited by benblanks86

Shit and here I thought everyone knew about Battle Pope already. C'mon, of the hundred of thousands of people obsessed with the Walking Dead you mean to tell me like 1% of you looked up Kirkman's past work? I got vol 1-4 years ago when I first looked it up, and to be honest they were a quick read and I barely remember what happens in them, but I do remember being very stoned and very entertained. There's no way to tell if you'll like it JUST because you love the Walking Dead, because the book is not at all LIKE the Walking Dead which only makes me respect Kirkman that much more. When you think about it that's what he's all about really. Look at all his books are any ONE of them all that similar? Maybe Astounding Wolf-man and Invincible because they're in the same universe but even then they are two wildly different books, how he goes from writing a serious post-apocalyptic zombie opus to young adult superhero dealing with world-threatening issues whiel also, semi-comedically dealing with real life civilian issues is a head scratcher. So long story short Battle Pope is awesome, it's his most 'simple' efforts in terms of big pecs, big guns, big boobs genres but it's a laugh and a half and is meant to be read the same way a 'popcorn movie' is mean to be enjoyed.

Posted by Tradog

Must get this!

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Edited by Geonettazombie

I read Battle Pope and it was fuckin radical.