The Enchanter

Joseph Smith The Enchanter

The Enchanter, (The Crusaders, Vol 18, 2007), Chick Publications, Jack T. Chick (w), Fred Johnson (a), 32 pp. Full Color comic book size. $3.50

Jack T. Chick is a genuine phenomenon in Christian comics. He is a polarizing figure whose work has spawned analytical studies and critical web sites both pro and con. Chick’s comics leave little middle ground- you either love or hate his work. While his small black and white tracts are uncompromising in presenting the Christian gospel, it is his full-sized color comic book series, The Crusaders, that has generated the most controversy. Perhaps the web of conspiracy theories presented in these comics is the issue that sparks the most heated discussion. Whatever the issue, a new Crusaders comic is a major publishing event seeing that the last one came out almost two decades ago.

The Enchanter is a biography of Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844), the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (Mormons). The story begins with a modern day vignette of a women living in Utah whose husband (an ex-Mormon) is found dead in their house. The authorities pronounce it suicide but the wife suspects murder. She calls Jim Carter and Tim Clark (The Crusaders) to help, as she is frightened by the seemingly menacing behavior of strangers toward her. Fearing for her safety she takes a flight out of state with funds provided by the Crusaders. This incident causes Jim and Tim to investigate the history of Mormonism. They contact ex-Mormon David Franks who gives them a detailed account of the beginnings of this heterodox religion. Franks account starts with the birth of Joseph Smith Jr. and follows him as he dabbles in folk occultism as a youngster, his first marriage to Emma Hale, the discovery of the illusory golden plates (supposedly the source of the Book of Mormon), several of his plural marriages, his links to the Masonic Lodge, the development of the Mormon church, and the organizing of his army, ‘The Danities’ Franks’ account, shows Smith as a unbalanced power hungry charlatan with great personal charisma which eventually leads to his arrest in Carthage, Missouri and subsequent murder by a rampaging mob.

For those who have studied the history of Mormonism (from either non-LDS sources or even Mormon records) most of this is fairly familiar material. Perhaps the most interesting thing is the restraint Chick shows in some controversial areas. For instance, in 1977, a book titled ‘Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?’ was published (with a new and greatly expanded edition following in 2005 with more evidence, making an even stronger case for this theory exhibiting strong evidence that Smith plagiarized much of the Book of Mormon from a stolen manuscript by a man named Solomon Spalding. However, The Enchanter makes only one oblique reference (p. 17) to other sources for the Book of Mormon. Another incident surrounds the controversy of Smith’s fatal escape attempt from the Carthage jail. Some accounts have him armed with a smuggled pistol defending himself against his attackers. Chick instead has an unarmed Smith being executed by apparently angry Masons.

Artist Fred Johnson does a very credible job with the material. Johnson is an excellent draftsman and it is surprising how little his work has changed (some may feel that his work has improved from his earlier efforts) over the past three decades. His work is still retains a pristine tightness and precise quality and for an essentially talking heads comic it communicates very well.

Chick’s overarching conspiracy theory is revealed early on (p. 8, 18-19) as a Satanic plot to quell the revivals of the early 19th Century by sowing the seeds of heretical cults like Mormonism and Christian Science, as well as virulent ideologies like Communism, Nazism, Masonry, evolution as well as resurgent non-Christian world religions like Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. And, of course (as they have been a primary target of Chick’s attacks in the past), the Roman Catholic church and the Jesuits are mentioned in this mix. The Bible does teach Christians how to battle spiritual forces, though one can debate with some of the exact details that Chick presents.

www.chick.com

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