Yun, The Illustrated Story of the Heavenly Man

 Yun, The Illustrated Story of the Heavenly Man

Yun, The Illustrated Story of the Heavenly Man (2006), Monarch Books, Paul Hattaway  (co-writer), Rico Rival (artist), 126 pp., $11.99.

In 1997 Paradox Press (a DC Comics imprint) published the Big Book of Martyrs. This book presented stories and legends primarily of early church and Roman Catholic martyrs for the faith. Martyrs and the persecuted church made up a very rich source for Christian sequential stories (comics). The graphic biography of Brother Yun is an excellent example of what can be done within the comics medium with modern persecution stories.

Brother Yun was born in 1958 in the tiny farming village of Liu Lao Zhuang of China’s Henan Province. The story follows Yun’s life as he was born into a family where his mother was a devout Christian and his father an ex-imperial soldier (who was miraculously healed by fervent prayers of terminal cancer). The book gives some historical background of the Protestant church in China. The rest of the book follows Yun’s  intense childhood desire to own a Bible and how God used him to teach and preach in the underground house church in China. There are many ups and downs in Yun’s life journey as he faced beatings, torture, imprisonment, temptation and conflict within the church itself. This is a story of the triumph of faith and God’s love in the face of seemingly overwhelming hardship and persecution.

Artist Rico Rival uses varied panel layouts and dramatic poses to keep the story moving. The inking tends to look rushed—almost as if these drawings were preliminary sketches. Since Rico is such an excellent comics story teller with very smooth transitions from page to page and from panel to panel in a very episodic story is a minor criticism. Still if he had taken more time or had a top notch inker doing the finishes— the art would have been even more effective. Nate Butler and Ed Morris helped in adapting the script to comics format.

The Christian church is facing heavy and increasing persecution in many Muslim, Hindu and communist countries. Graphic biographies like Yun, the Heavenly Man is an excellent way of calling attention (and the need for help and prayer) to our brothers and sisters who are in very real ways suffering for their faith.


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