Brian reviews the 5-issue series Daisy, written and illustrated by Colin Lorimer, colors by Joana Lafuente, and lettering by Jim Campbell, published by Dark Horse. He discusses its relationship to the apocryphal Book of Enoch, especially the mythology of the Nephilim, and the horror of inescapable guilt. Can one be faithful and guilty at the same time?
Interview with Colin Lorimer at AIPT Comics:
Off The Shelf: Daisy
Written and Illustrated by Colin Larimer
Colors by Joana Lafuente, Lettering by Jim Campbell
Welcome to Off The Shelf, Church of the Geek’s review of recent comic book titles. I am Brian Bennett, campus pastor at Lutheran Campus Ministry in Greater Pittsburgh, serving students at Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, Chatham and Carlow universities, as well as your regular co-host of Church of the Geek.
I admit it. I am a sucker for comics that are based on biblical themes and stories, even if the comics themselves are a bit extra-biblical. Take a biblical story, or a biblical character, or even some apocryphal tale, reboot it for a new take, and it is an almost sure thing that I will pick it up. There is something about the ability to ask questions of the text or narrative through comics that is loosed from other modes of storytelling that speaks to me. Whether it is Eisner’s “Contract With God” which isn’t really biblical, but it asks questions of God’s lovingkindness in light of covenant or contract. A few months back I reviewed Jason Aaron’s The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides which I admit I still don’t know how to handle it, but it asked important questions about God and the place of women through the lens of the brief Genesis 6 text about the sons of God dwelling with women and creating the race of giants, the Nephilim.
Now we end up back in Genesis 6 territory with Colin Lorimer’s 5-issue comic Daisy, published by Dark Horse. Lorimer writes and illustrates the comic. Joana Lafuente colors it and Jim Campbell does the lettering.
The titular character Daisy is an 8-foot tall teenager who lives on a farm in Vermont with a slew of other children overseen by the man they call Father, who as we find out in the first issue, is also one of those Sons of God, Watcher angels, who made a life with human women creating monstrous giant children.
Into this scenario comes Lindsay Taylor looking for her missing son Connor who just disappeared one day when his parents stopped at a store in Stowe, Vermont on a road trip. Lindsay has been consumed by the search for Connor, never giving up even when it cost her marriage and her job. A strange phone call with personal information brought Lindsay to the town to investigate, but she discovers far more than she bargained for.
While we typically focus on a single issue on Off The Shelf, I felt this review had to be for the whole five issues. The story is complex and winding. Lorimer pulls on, not the few verses from Genesis 6, but the Book of Enoch. This book holds an important place in biblical studies, even though it is not in most bibles, although the Ethiopic Church holds the Book of Enoch in its canon. The Book of Enoch is one of the earliest Jewish apocalypses, and it was written around the year 200 BCE. Of course, this apocalyptic text draws on pre-existing tradition. After all the barest bones of the story is contained in Genesis.
The first section of the Book of Enoch is called the Book of the Watchers, where we learn the story of the two hundred angels who take human wives. Their children though, are monsters. Giants who rampage and destroy. These giants, the Nephilim, are the reason God sends the flood. The bible names them as warriors of renown. But immediately following these few verses comes a description of the world beset upon by great wickedness, so much so that God regrets making human beings and plans to destroy them all. All of them except Noah with whom he finds favor.
This quick progression from the Sons of God, angels taking wives, creating the Nephilim to wickedness to the Noah story, has led some to create a compelling argument that the source of evil in the world as viewed through the Genesis story is the fallen angels. Adam and Eve never get mentioned again in the Hebrew bible, but right after this brief text, God wants to wipe out life on earth because of it.
The Book of Enoch works to flesh that reasoning out. The Watchers fall not just because they have sexual relations with women, but because they also improperly reveal secrets to humanity. From weapons of war to makeup. If the garden scene with Adam and Eve is rooted in knowledge of good and evil, there is likely some connection here as well.
After the angels are imprisoned far under the earth, awaiting the day of judgment, Enoch assumed straight into heaven due to his righteousness seeks intercession for the Watchers, but becomes the scribe, possibly a priestly scribe, to receive a vision that spins out over four more sections in The Book of Enoch.
It is clear that Lorimer has taken some time with the Book of Enoch, and he admits that Daisy is loosely based on it. In an interview at AIPT Comics, he discusses his motivation for writing this comic. He said, quote, “The idea of children cursed by God and destined to become mad, monstrous, cannibalistic giants pretty much had me sold. But their story is also an incredibly sad one; children condemned at their very conception for the sins of their parents. That’s harsh! Their card is marked from day one. No remit. No forgiveness. I felt that was worth exploring. How would that affect you if you were f—-d from day one with no path to redemption. Also, the guilt that must sit with the parents, that helplessness one would feel from not being able to protect your children.” End quote.
In that same interview, which is linked in the show description so you can read it for yourself, Lorimer admits that he isn’t seeking to offend anyone. He is wrestling with questions himself from his Northern Ireland Roman Catholic upbringing, which gave him much of his inspiration for writing this tale of horror. And I am a major supporter of wrestling with questions even if they go into territory that some would call sacrilegious or blasphemous. I want everyone to wrestle with the question if God is good or a monster. I think one can also hold some things in tension around God and good and evil. But Lorimer writes a tale that doesn’t wrestle with the question of God being good. From the outset it is clear that God is evil. In his interview he sees the Nephilim as effed from day one with no redemption possible.
Let’s return to those brief verses in Genesis. The angels take wives. They bear the Nephilim. They will be great warriors. God sees great wickedness. The flow of that passage is not that the Nephilim are by their very nature rejected by God, but the fall of these angels brings great evil into the world. The Book of Enoch spells that out but the Nephilim are only part of that. Improper revelation of heavenly secrets is bound up in this tale as well. The careful reading of Enoch and Genesis does not, I think, make God out to be as heartless and cruel as Lorimer suggests.
Nonetheless, the question that Lorimer suggests in Daisy is what if one of these cursed giants was in fact not evil, but obedient and faithful. This possibility is where the character Daisy comes in. She is that figure. Despite bearing the curse of the Nephilim in her very body’s suffering, she has followed God in loving and caring for the other children who bear far worse manifestations of the curse. Daisy is set in the position to redeem all of the children who bear the Nephilim spirit and exist under God’s judgment.
The movement of this story is that somehow Lindsay Taylor is needed at this point to help Daisy move the children to heaven. Somehow, for some reason, Lindsay is told she is chosen, but that part of the story, as much of it does, gets lost in the later books of the series. In the culmination of the story though, Daisy discovers what Lorimer assumes from the beginning. God is faithless and evil. Daisy’s very love is used against her by God.
Now to be fair, Lorimer uses a device that distances himself from the “God is evil!” Lorimer brings in the gnostic notion of the demiurge. The Creator god whom Daisy was serving was not the ultimate God, but was merely a caretaker over the creation who got bored and created beings of flesh and spirit. This god is evil. And even the Creator’s son who was sent to judge the world forsook the Lesser god and sought to save humanity.
This move seems like it insulates Lorimer from the charge of blasphemy because the ultimate God is truly good. It is only this caretaker minion who went bad. Except this move was long ago rejected by the Church because it creates a distinction that ultimately is anti-semitic. Even in his interview, there is a glimpse of this when he says, quote, “If you’re looking for a good horror book, look no further than the Bible as you’ll have a great time wading through stories of murder, plagues, sacrifice, torture, a multitude of grisly massacres, and one extinction-level planetary disaster…and that’s just the Old Testament.” End quote.
This move was tried by Marcion, who claimed that the god of the Hebrew bible was evil, but the god of the new testament Jesus was loving. Jesus stood in the space between the Father and humanity, thereby saving humanity from the evil of god. It is a heresy that raises its head every time a preacher brings up the old canard about the god of Israel being a god of wrath, but Jesus is a god of love. The God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is the same God who raised Jesus from the dead. The early church takes that stance and in order to tell Marcion how wrong he was, it led the early church to define the entire Hebrew bible, Torah, prophets and writings, to be authoritative for the church, not just the Torah, as Judaism holds.
In the end, amidst all of this, Lorimer simply tries to do too much with the story. A strong start fades away into confusing turns of the narrative. At the great climax it is not clear what happens or why exactly. And in the denouement, some resolution takes place that again, is unclear. Why? The very presence of Lindsay Taylor is confusing. This story could have taken place without her. But it seems she is there for the point of parents who feel guilt over not being able to protect their children.
What starts with an interesting premise, leads into confusing and complicated territory. If there are questions that Lorimer sought to answer, those answers remain unsatisfying.
Tell me how I missed it, but I don’t think I did. Check Daisy out if like me, extra-biblical comics are your jam, but don’t expect any help in wrestling with the big questions.
Geek be with you.
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