Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Brick Bible: The Old Testament

This is slightly out of order, but The Brick Bible: The Old Testament had to go back to the library for someone else's hold before I had the time to review it.  I did manage to survive TBB: The New Testament, reviewed here.


Much like TBB:TNT, Brendan Powell Smith omits a lot of the actual Bible in here, instead focusing on specific events, preferably those involving violence or sex.  If both are involved (see: Dinah), the story gets the royal treatment.  I suppose I wouldn't mind so much if someone recreated Biblical scenes using LEGOs if the focus was more evenly distributed.  Plus, a bunch of the LEGO figure choices are just plain bizarre.  Actually, looking back at my review of The New Testament, this one actually makes more sense.  Relatively.  Sort of.  Let's start, shall we?

In the beginning, there was an angry-looking man with a beard and a robe, and he created.  This is God; Smith also uses the Hebrew Yahweh.  God floats around creating things, including a giant crowd of naked people.  Hmm.  This is pre-Adam and Eve, so I'm not sure where all of these naked people went once God created the first man and woman.  Anyway.  This was super tiring, so God takes a nap on a hammock when he's done.

In the meantime, Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge and sin against God.  Once they realize they're naked, they become Hawaiian Adam and Eve.  God doesn't much like this costume, so he kills a cow (complete with LEGO blood) and makes them caveman outfits instead.  They are turned out of Eden and start having kids, namely Abel and the infamous Cain.  Again, much LEGO blood is shed.  After more procreation, we get to the bit where the angels come down from heaven and take human wives for themselves.  WARNING: this is accompanied by a very interesting/graphic childbirth LEGO scene where the woman's vagina is literally as big as her head, mostly because she just gave birth to a really big baby.  There is a lot of LEGO blood here and in the following panels as the Nephilim wreak havoc on humanity.

God, understandably, gets mad and has Noah build an ark to save righteous humans and the animals.  Here we hit a little hitch: Powell's narration has Noah gathering "pairs of clean and unclean animals" into the ark.  Actually, Noah had to have seven clean animals, not just two (Gen. 7:2).  Maybe it was hard to find seven LEGO sheep?  Anyway, the flood comes, everyone dies and becomes rather gruesome LEGO skeletons, and Noah sacrifices a giraffe (???) to God.  This struck me as totally bizarre because ... why would you kill a giraffe when you had so many other animals you could sacrifice?  That were smaller?  Then we have the scene where Noah gets drunk and naked and Ham sees him and goes tee-heeing to his brothers.  When Noah sobers up, he curses his son.  And then he falls over and dies.  Just ... right there on the ground.  Shem and Japheth look at him like, "Oh. So that just happened."

The Tower of Babel, which could have been a really epic LEGO project, gets short shrift, and we quickly move on to Abram and Sarai leaving Ur with Terah (Abram's father), who promptly falls over and dies in the next panel.  Sarai gives Slave Leia Hagar to Abram as a concubine, and Ishmael is born.  Then God renames Abram Abraham and tells him he has to get circumcised.  As I mentioned in my New Testament review, Smith seems to think that this involves castrating people, because there are gouts of blood and LEGO circles that are pretty darn big being cut off of these guys.  Ouch.

Meanwhile, Lot and his daughters survive the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and his daughters freak out and incestuously bear their father's children.  So, like their own brothers.  Anyway.  That's also in the Bible, but it's kind of weird to put that in and leave out, you know, the book of Psalms.

We tootle through the stories of Isaac, Esau, and Jacob without too much of a hitch.  And now: Dinah.  Dinah is hot, and Shechem just can't deal, so he rapes her in a field.  We have a lovely scene of Dinah looking terrified and Shechem, pantsless, handing her a bouquet of flowers.  "Hi, so I raped you because I love you!  Have some flowers?"  When Dinah's brothers find out, they require all the men in Shechem's city to get circumcised.  You guessed it: there's an assembly line set up and all the guys get a whack and a wee little LEGO bandaid to put over their man parts.  Then Dinah's brothers run in and chop them all up into little bits.  More LEGO blood.

Smith spends a lot of time on Joseph in Egypt, so here are some interesting points:

  • Joseph's "coat of many colors" seems to belong to someone from either Mayan or Aztec culture.  As it would in Mesopotamia.
  • Joseph's "uniform" in Potiphar's house is pretty much a mankini.
  • Chefs in ancient Egypt wore toques.  
Woo!  We made it to Exodus!  So, the usual start: bad Pharaoh, kill all the babies, Moses kills an Egyptian, runs away, and gets married.  His wife circumcises their son with a "flint knife" that looks like a screwdriver.  The ten plagues are pretty much as usual, except for during the tenth plague, God goes around with a giant black axe and hacks the firstborns to pieces.  Hmm.  More LEGO blood!  One of the funniest parts of this whole book occurs right after the Red Sea kills Pharaoh's army: the Israelites are instructed to head into the wilderness of Sin.  There is a rock formation on which someone has helpfully written "SIN --->" in LEGO blocks.  

Okay, Ten Commandment time.  According to the LEGO panels: if you take God's name in vain, he will kill you with an axe.  If you work on the Sabbath, your husband will stab you in the back.  If you dishonor your mother, she has the right to kill you with a stick.  If someone steals your baby, stab him in the heart.

Strangely, the Ark of the Testimony (Ark of the Covenant) has gryphons on top instead of angels.  I guess that was just too hard to do, huh?  

Smith wusses out of Leviticus and just has Aaron and his sons anointed, and then shows God zapping Nadab and Abihu for offering up improper incense to Him.  

Numbers gets way more page time, which is a bit odd, but when you consider that Smith really likes showing battles and blood, it kind of makes sense.  He also seems to enjoy painting God as just plain hating Israel and killing them with plagues and fire and such whenever possible, omitting the part about how they directly disobeyed him like all the time.  

Deuteronomy: Moses dies, God buries him with a shovel.  I guess God needs a shovel.

Joshua: Slave Leia Hagar Rahab hides the Israelite spies and is saved when Jericho is destroyed.  The conquest of the Promised Land is shown in serious LEGO blood detail.

Judges: More conquest.  Evidently if you drive a tent pin into someone's head, their hair falls off (Jael and Sisera).  Fighting fighting fighting ... here Jephthah burns his daughter as a sacrifice which is NOT what happened: she went to serve God at the tabernacle.  Reading comprehension, Mr. Smith.  We have a great scene of soldiers "inspecting women" to make sure they're virgins (ew!).  And thankfully, we've made it to 1 Samuel (here just called "Samuel").

You know, it bugs me that Smith has the Ark just being toted around uncovered--it had to be covered at all times, otherwise if you looked upon it, you would die.  Just sayin' ... Indiana Jones had the right idea.  Pretty much the rest of the book (including 1 Kings and 2 Kings) is just unending scenes of people getting killed or smote by God.

Like I said, if it had been more even-handed, this would be interesting for visual learners, but Smith seems intent on just showing ALL THE BATTLES of the Israelites and skipping fun stuff like Psalms  and Esther (one of my favorites).  With his penchant for naked LEGOs, can you imagine what he would have done with Song of Solomon?  Missed opportunity, my friend.

If you feel tempted to read this, do so for the giggles only.  End with a facepalm, and you're all set.

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