Iconoclast, review: losing my religion

Iconoclast, review: losing my religion

Iconoclast, review

There is an irresistible urge in the human soul to find an answer to the great questions of existence in the unfathomable mystery of faith. Where the light of science fails to reach, the creation of a sort of imaginary personification to which the task of calming doubts and questions becomes a requirement, a necessity that often finds refuge in the sphere of religion. Nothing better than dogmatic adherence to an institutional and rigid faith could respond to this human need, but how can this salvific impulse be adapted in a society that seems to detach itself more and more from religious precepts, moving towards a new dogma made up of new gods and new wedding rings? If traditional idols are killed, will other equally powerful ones be born? Witty questions that form the basis of Iconoclasta, an exciting comic story by Paolo Marinello published by Star Comics in the Astra series.

With Iconoclasta, Star Comics renews its intention of offering readers a broader narrative, capable of move from the science fiction story ( Bacteria , Deep Beyond ) to the more intimate and almost metaphysical atmospheres of Marinello's work. Commendable intention which, although still in its first phase, shows a precise personality, capable of finding a balance in which different inspirations are declined within a narrative path that satisfies different palates. In this multifaceted identity, Iconoclast represents the most interesting proposal to date, a happy crasis between surgical social dynamics and intimate investigation, punctuated by the disenchanted cynicism of a protagonist who arouses immediate sympathy in the reader.

Iconoclast: does he destroy idols, to create others?

Laslo is a textbook loafer: lazy, indolent, more interested in his own vices than in his work as sexton in the parish of Santa Jennifer. A task that shouldn't be too burdensome, considering that the church managed by Don Ardito is one of the last veterans of an ecclesiastical vision linked to religious tradition, now condemned by the birth of a completely new religiosity, daughter of modern times.

Victim of the reforming crusade of the philosopher Valdo Brigliadoro, the imaginative tradition of religion has fallen victim to the theory of harmonic emptiness, according to which the presence of idols such as statues and religious effigies is misleading and useless. A vision shared by most of the faithful, which led to a sudden renunciation of the classic icons of the faith, leading to the covering of statues and the renunciation of holy pictures and other religious symbols, despite a belated and useless movement of self-preservation by the Church which has opened up to canonization of new saints, children of an era of image culture and new moral principles. A process of destruction of the icon (hence the title Iconoclast), which culminates with the apparently inexplicable destruction of the statue of Santa Jennifer right in the church where Laslo works, an event that leads him to follow an unusual investigation that will completely overturn his relationship with the sacred and reality.

Marinello interprets this contemporary trait of religiosity with surprising vivacity. Despite having precedents in history, the relationship between the believer and the religious image has reached a disturbing complexity in our day. The detachment from a traditional religiosity is evident as the birth of a personality cult and other more atypical forms of veneration is the incarnation of a thought of Dostoevskji:

Man cannot live without kneeling before something. If man rejects God, he kneels before an idol.

In Iconoclast society, traditional religious effigies have been replaced by other forms of veneration, be it artists or absurd ideas, such as being part of a vampire cult born out of an RPG got out of hand. Interpretation which, at the beginning, may seem almost paradoxical, but which thanks to a narrative construction well played on an emotional level by Marinello finds an exciting characterization. The risk of dealing with themes of a certain complexity such as the relationship with the divine and the birth of a neo-paganism such as that proposed by contemporary image culture are diluted with lucidity within a story that carefully doses moments of hilarity, thanks to the volcanic personality of Laslo, to moments of great emotional intensity, where the human nature is portrayed in its vulnerability and in its most tormented sides.

The beauty of Iconoclast lies in the way Marinello guides the reader to the discovery of a world that almost seems like a caricature of our everyday life, having fun demonizing rigid aspects of dogma, mocking them when necessary, but still remaining respectful of their essence. It is not a trivial parody of faith, but a more heartfelt search for a meaning to the relationship of the individual with the mystic, creating a narrative that easily passes from contexts of strong impact, characterized by heavy and scathing dialogues, to lightening ironic, which takes over the daily element of small problems that shifts the center of gravity of the narrative on the enhancement of the self. A functional mechanism that lives above all in the contrast between Laslo's Gascon approach to his new mission as savior and the bloody soul of Claudio, a tormented character who, together with the irreverent sexton, represents the duo on which the narrative castle of Iconoclast rests.

Iconoclast: religion, society and identity of the self in a winning mix

While delving into complex topics, Iconoclast manages to preserve its own dynamism, never being academic or repelling for the reader. At the end of the reading it seems incredible that this full-bodied volume has managed to deal with passion and vivacity an incredible range of themes (importance of art, guilt, hope and search for the self) without lapsing into mannerism or banality, thanks to a graphic interpretation very high profile.

The narrative importance of the concept of image finds a perfect visual counterpart in Marinello's drawing, declined in a freedom of the cage that adapts best to different situations. Marinello's soft line allows both to express the lively personality of the characters, through a vehement portraiture of body language and facial expressions, and to characterize the atmospheres, capable of passing from the dilapidated church of Santa Jennifer to the more shady settings that seem welcome Claudius and his torments. In this captivating graphic interpretation there is room for a management of dynamism that does not disdain an intelligent use of comedy, an essential ingredient of Laslo's misadventure, which helps to create sympathy for the character and to give readers an emotional predisposition that is detonated in the final of Iconoclast .

Star Comics abandons the traditional publication of the Astra line (hardcover), opting for a paperback with flaps that fits best with the Iconoclast concept. An edition that dutifully enhances Marinello's visual system, thanks to a trimming of the pages that does not require straining the volume to fully enjoy the plates, and which makes the cover price more than fair.

Iconoclast arrives in bookstores at the end of the year, imposing itself as one of the best proposals on the Italian comic scene. The perfect synergy between the complex plots drawn and their graphic interpretation is a sign of an undoubted artistic maturity, thanks to which the reader can experience an exciting story in which a sincere and everyday irony accompanies an intimate and social investigation which make Iconoclast a metaphor of our contemporaneity.

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