Wednesday, July 25, 2018

BOOK SPOTLIGHT and REVIEW: The Golden Plates #1: Escape from Jerusalem by Michael Allred & Andrew Knaupp


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Golden Plates #1: Premium Edition-Escape From Jerusalem is the first issue of an adaptation of the fifth best selling book of all time, The Book of Mormon, which has sold over 120 million copies. This graphic novel/comic book adaptation was first illustrated in 2005 by award winning artist Michael Allred. Issue #1 includes: 29 full color pages as well as 4 pages of commentary from Michael Allred on what inspired him to step out of his successful career in the comic book industry to create the series. His decision to leave high paying jobs for almost a year to create The Golden Plates was hailed as “the biggest announcement in Mormon comics ever.” Allred described his work on The Golden Plates as “the most significant thing I’ll ever be a part of” and “by far my most personal work ever...this is something I simply had to do.” “Anyone interested in stories about human beings rising to their highest and most heroic potential will find that here...I’ve never been more alive with drawing anything in my life.”


The first 6 issues cover the first 145 pages (27%) of the Book of Mormon, from 1st Nephi through the Words of Mormon. This adaptation is a fun and enthralling to way to help older children and teens understand and enjoy the Book of Mormon in a format more advanced than simplified children's stories or scripture readers meant for young children.

REVIEW

I have mixed feelings about this short comic version of a part of The Book of Mormon.  I believe firmly that The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture revealed by God to the world for our benefit.  As such, the book is full of spiritual truths and insights about our Heavenly Father's plan for each of His children as well as numerous testimonies of the divinity of Jesus Christ.  The book is also full of stories of peoples who've lived before and their righteousness and wickedness.  It's clear from what I've read in the book that the authors and illustrator had good intentions as they created this adaptation.  The intention is clearly to provide a visual version of the stories told in The Book of Mormon.  The problem with illustrating a book that is believed to be true and is full of spiritual doctrine is creating pictures that are consistent with what we know and remaining true to what's revealed while filling in details that are not included.  While I believe that much of the first book (I haven't read the other books in the series) is well done, there were a few things I didn't agree with in terms of the way certain things were depicted. 

The things I liked include the following:

  • the illustrations are bright and appealing.
  • the stories are fairly consistent with what's in The Book of Mormon.
  • the faith and struggles of the people are clear.
  • the illustrator has clearly tried to be as consistent with clothing and buildings and other details as it's possible to be.  He has clearly done his research.
The thing I had trouble with is the way some of the personal revelations that Nephi received were depicted as well as the angel that Nephi and his brothers saw when they returned to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates/records from Laban.  The angel is portrayed in white robes with white hair, which I have no problem with.  The problem I have is the white glowing eyes and the windblown hair which makes the angel seem more like a ghost than an angel.  It makes him seem kind of creepy instead of powerful.  In addition to that, there is one occasion where Nephi receives revelation from the Lord but the revelation comes through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, not through the appearance of an angel.  The illustrator has chosen to depict this by showing what is either supposed to be an angel or a depiction of the Holy Ghost.  That isn't accurate.  I would have preferred that Nephi just explain what he was commanded to do.

The other thing of concern is the use of invented dialogue.  This isn't unusual in graphic novel adaptations and in most cases I wouldn't be too concerned.  But when the content is supposed to be nonfiction or factual, invented dialogue adds an element of fiction, because we don't know what was actually said.  The dialogue though is clearly based on what is said in The Book of Mormon.  

Overall, the book is well done, but there are a couple of issues.  That doesn't mean however that the things that bothered me will bother everyone.  If that is the case you may enjoy reading this book.  I do recommend that you read the author's notes at the end about his reasons for the project and his thoughts and feelings about the source, The Book of Mormon.  Above all though I recommend that you go to the original source, The Book of Mormon, there is simply no adequate substitution.


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