When you watch a lot of people float away into the sky, and then wake up the next day to find magic is real and your neighbor has mutated, you might think to yourself, ‘I wonder if the rapture just happened, and I didn’t hear the trumpet,’ or ‘there has to be a scientific explanation for this.’ Either way, Jim Munroe banked on this confusion in his works Therefore Repent and his new series Sword of my Mouth. Both stories follow people during the near-future dawning of a second dark age, in which magic is real but mostly impractical. Medieval alchemy is out the window in this new age; gold is almost worthless, so who would bother trying. Instead the magic is just weird, like when a woman comes into a bar with a cat on her shoulders that is clearly alive but is made of dust balls and string.
Sword of my Mouth continues the narrative of the first book, but moves the story to Detroit and begins with a new community of people. It makes sense that following this rapture event, there would be a political and economic collapse. Some people have kept going to their office jobs in hopes that they will make the cut for a second ascendance. There is still a president who is a friend of a Jesus-type person, though he has lost most of his authority. All the same, people continue make most decisions based upon the moral codes on which they were raised. People have rebuilt their communities in ways that are pretty similar to the social structures in which they have lived their whole lives, but decision-making and trade has become more localized.
The city is still considered a dangerous place. Though not much more dangerous than before, attackers have adopted a different mythology and might have a mutated animal head or come swooping in as a genocidal angel with a machine gun. The beauty of these books is that most panels depict lives that don’t differ that greatly from our own, so when something about an interaction is a little off, it is all the more striking. In these panels, Munroe and artist Shannon Gerard present a stabbing in the railroad yard, displacing the human shapes from the limits of the setting’s space, while making reference to the new metaphysical order.
// Notes from the Road
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