DC COMICS has relinquished the rights to a new superhero comic centred on Jesus Christ following a Conservative Christian backlash.
The move comes in the wake of an online petition which branded the comic “outrageous and blasphemous” and attracted over 200,000 signatures online.
Second Coming has been written by Mark Russell, an Eisner Award-nominated author and cartoonist who has worked on several different titles for DC with art by Richard Pace.
Its website invites readers to "witness the return of Jesus Christ” after he is sent on a "holy mission by God to learn what it takes to be the true messiah of mankind".
In order to do so, he is forced to become the roommate of a superhero called “Sun-Man” – a character who is evidently a spoof of Superman. There’s a twist though.
According to the synopsis, “when Christ returns to Earth, he’s shocked to discover what has become of his gospel—and now, he aims to set the record straight."
"God was so upset with Jesus’s performance the first time he came to Earth, since he was arrested so soon and crucified shortly after, that he has kept him locked-up since then,” Russell explained to Bleeding Cool.
"God then sees this superhero on Earth a few thousand years later and says 'that’s what I wanted for you!'
"He sends Jesus down to learn from this superhero and they end up learning from each other."
DC Comics had commissioned the new title for an initial six-issue run but was met with strong opposition online.
A petition launched on Citizen Go has branded Second Coming “inappropriate” and called on DC to cancel its release.
“Would DC Comics publish similar content about other religious leaders, such as Mohammed or Buddha?” the petition asks.
“This content is inappropriate and blasphemous. It should be immediately pulled from your publishing schedule.”
The petition went viral and quickly hit its initial target of 200,000 signatures, eventually reaching 230,000 after the story was publicised by i.
DC Comics has now cancelled the release with the rights to Second Coming set to revert to the creators.
“DC was requesting these changes [regarding profanity and nudity] before FOX News set the outrage machine in motion, so it’s difficult to speculate what, if any, impact their campaign had on any of DC’s decision-making,” Russell told HuffPost.
“Though I imagine finding 200,000 auto-generated e-mails in your inbox can’t be too pleasant.”
Russell also revealed DC had requested some of the profanity be removed and that a scene involving a nude Adam in the Garden of Eden be censored. Further, more substantial changes were also requested.
Pace and Russell are now seeking another publisher for the comic.