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anww3_cvr_sm.jpgJerusalem has been rocked by an earthquake. New York is under biological attack. It’s up to Lt. John Corbin, a hulking American army officer wielding a Gatling gun, to secure the perimeter. At least until Jesus gets here.
Yes, the End Times are here again. And they get weirder every time.


Last January, comic-book artist Rob Liefeld, the famously maverick comic-book artist, released the first installment of the graphic novel series “Armageddon Now,” written with his pastor, California megachurch leader Phil Hostenpiller. The son of preachers, Liefeld attended a Prophecy Conference at Hostenpiller’s Yorba Linda Friends Church three years ago. What he heard convinced him to team up with Hostenpiller on an End Times series. “Armageddon Now: The Beast,” the sequeal to “Armageddon Now: World War III” will soon be on store shelves.
Comic-book reviewers have reacted with surprise to Liefeld’s faith turn, even as they praise Armageddon Now’s “sci-fi, testosterone soaked, Halo-style setting.” Christian sources, meanwhile, portray the collaboration between the pastor and Liefeld, who has drawn X-Men for Marvel, as an exciting combination of storytelling chops and biblical expertise. Liefeld agrees. “Phil is the research nut, he told the fanzine Comic Book Resources before the first book appeared, calling himself “a huge fan of the genre.”
The genre? Once a somewhat arcane biblical prophecy rooted in the darkly apocalyptic foreshadowings of Jesus, Paul, and the Book of Revelation, the End Times has indeed morphed into something of a franchise unto itself. For one thing it’s big business: counting their own graphic novels and children’s versions, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have sold at least 75 million copies of their Left Behind series of End Times tales.
As the century has gone along, fear of terrorism, the rise of global government and economic chaos have also given the End Times a pulse of its own. Instead of a supernatural event heralding the end of the world, the apocalypse has become mingled in many minds with current events. As Liefeld admits to Comic Book Resources, Armageddon Now is “more geopolitical than religious.” Its religious component, he adds, chiefly has to do with “whether or not the Bible foretold of much of what is being experienced now and [in his novel.]”
This leaves the End Times in a strange netherworld where fact, biblical foreshadowing and outright fiction mix freely. Hostenpiller, Liefeld’s pastor, calls Armageddon Now “a cultural key” that draws people to think about their preparedness for the end: It’s “’24’ meets ‘The Da Vinci Code’ meets ‘Left Behind’,” he told the Christian Post. The truth, one assumes, fits in there somewhere.

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