DC Comics has relinquished rights to a comic book series that depicts Jesus Christ returning to Earth to learn from a superhero.
The series, titled Second Coming, was set to debut under the DC imprint Vertigo on 6 March, but the comic has since been canceled in light of an intense backlash from conservative Christians.
A petition, bearing 230,000 signatures, declared the series “outrageous and blasphemous”, with its release being covered by conservative news outlets like Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
“Would DC Comics publish similar content about other religious leaders, such as Muhammad or Buddha?” the petition read.
The series is intended as a cultural commentary on modern-day Christianity, in which God is depicted as being disappointed by Jesus’s first time as Messiah, since it resulted in his crucifixion. He decides to send Jesus back to Earth, 2,000 years later, instructing him to take lessons from Sun-Man, a superhero worshiped by humans. Jesus is shocked to see how Christianity has changed and what has been done in his name over the centuries.
Series writer Mark Russell told Huffington Post that DC requested alterations to the series – including removing profanity and covering up a nude Adam in the Garden of Eden scene – that he and artist Richard Pace weren’t
He added that DC wanted to delay the release to an “unspecified date”, with room for further changes down the line, although he stressed that these changes were requested before the backlash began.
Russell and Pace instead requested to have the rights to the series returned to them and are now seeking another publisher for the comic. Both creators have stressed that the split was amicable on Twitter.