“Akedah,” or in Hebrew, Akedat Yitchaz, is the story of the “binding of Issac.” This is the story that is told throughout the first volume of Testament. However, it is not told in a traditional manner. Anyone could have taken the stories of the Bible and just translated them into images and put them on to a page, but Doug Rushkoff and Liam Sharp had a different vision for these stories.
In Testament, the creators present us with a glimpse of the near-future. The military draft has been reinstated and government projects are implanting microchips into those eligible for the draft, with the guise that they will be used for tracking soldiers in the battle field, in case they are lost. However, the chips are used as a control device, manipulating those that would defy the government and disobey laws. This story takes place in what could be tomorrow, for all we know, and simultaneously, Rushkoff tells us Bible stories, paralleling the two timelines with events and themes.
The story of the fall of Sodom and the story of Abraham are told alongside the near—future story. The three stories cut into each issue of the trade with a great symmetry and flow and could easily have been jumbled, or thrown the reader around, leaving itself incoherent, but this is not the case. This idea works well in the comic medium. Characters are drawn to look alike in the two timelines. In his artwork, Sharp is able to create the symmetry of one past-present character in two panels. A character in the past speaks and the next panel has their future counterpart echo their meaning, or even finishing their sentence, making the transgressions from past to present seamless and solidifying the accessibility of the narrative for the reader.
Along with the Bible and future stories, Rushkoff gives us a glimpse into the metaphysical plane, showing us the Gods that are waging the brewing wars of both past and present. Rushkoff says in his introduction that the stories of the Bible did not take place at a certain time, but are happening now and have been happening throughout all of mankind’s existence. The Gods quarrel and bait one another and the forces of good are always at odds with the forces of evil. It is the Gods that often force the hands of those within these stories, but the Gods are not allowed to cross the frames of the panels. They are separated from reality but can manifest themselves in our world in other ways. They are able to create a gust of wind, or their hand turns into fire, and sometimes their hands are within the hand of a character in the story.
The best example of this comes in the very first issue, maybe to overemphasize the point. When our main character, Jake, is about to be implanted with the tracking device and Abraham is about to sacrifice his oldest son, Moloch (a demonic God) forces one hand upward into the hand of the chip implanting device and the other hand down, fueling the fires of Abraham’s sacrifice in a pair of panels to the left of the page. But in the proceeding panels to the right of the page, Melchezidek, a God of Light, forces his hand up pushing Jake’s dog in front of him and implanting the dog instead and simultaneously forcing his hand downward causing a gust of wind that steadies Abraham’s hand from killing his oldest son.
I have come a long way in my appreciation of comic books; from an adolescent, who found the art of scantily dressed women and epic battles fascinating. I have grown to a point where I find myself wanting my comics to teach me something, as if I were reading Kurt Vonnegut. I am still in awe of the many great artists in comics today, but without the quality stories to set the artist on the right path, most books would fail in their infancy. The writing in this book is a prime example of the difficult stories that are now being told in the comic’s medium. This is a wonderful start for this comic and for Rushkoff and Sharp. They managed to take a difficult concept and make it look easy.