The final installment of the Eye Witness quadrilogy, “Unknown God” traces the conclusion of forensic archaeologist Dr. Terry Harper’s journey from skeptic-at-best to witness. The graphic novel traces juxtaposed storylines of the modern fallout following the discovery of Joseph of Arimethea’s firsthand account of the Gospel as well as the biblical tale of Saul, now Paul, the Apostle.
Harper has faced routine assassination attempts including a suicide bombing, hospital poisoning, and most lately a round from a sniper rifle. Paul, meanwhile, has been transformed from the oppressive Pharisee to one of the great champions of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Book III, “Rise of the Apostle” ended on a double cliff-hanger with the assassination of Harper juxtaposed to the stoning of Paul in response to his mission work. Just as Paul proves not to be dead, Harper has survived due to Mac’s quick wit, having disguised a shipmate as Harper to take the bullet, which fortunately is stopped by a bulletproof vest. The story expands as Harper comes to New York to present his shocking proof on worldwide live TV during the Jerry Caesar show (hilariously spoofing Larry King). Forces align to stop him, but Harper unquestioningly soldiers on.
Meanwhile, Harper continues to receive his visions. He is again greeted by Luke, the Greek physician, who now reads Paul’s account in testimony for his trial before the Roman Senate. Paul’s adventures imprisoned and shipwrecked continue as he takes what seems to be an open-and-closed case of a religious issue and needlessly appeals to Caesar, his right as a Roman citizen, and thus brings his work to the heart of the Roman Empire in parallel with Harper’s own new mission.
Alongside those storylines, the intrigue of international finance and secret agents continues. Here the story seems to go overboard with secret basements under the UN accessible only by a few and Mac taking down bodyguards while barely breaking into a sweat, almost overpowering the heroes and too easily undermining the big villain, Global Development Corporation’s Omar Al-Kadar. However, the set up gets Harper alone as another, and final, assassination is readied. The plot is heart-stopping to the end.
Overall, the story is a thrill ride well suited to those who like fast-paced intrigue and multiple storylines. The portrayal of biblical stories in graphic novel form makes them very palatable to audiences who might worry about line after line of “begats.” Luedke does well to create a work with something for everyone.
A final point about the Eye Witness series is its treatment of miracles. Rather than being a glowing feat of magic, outside the shining lights when conversing with heavenly beings, the miracles are largely things that might be easily explained away. Harper’s miraculous visions recounting the Bible could very well be waking comas where his mind hallucinates stories he certainly must have read as an archaeologist. Other miracles might be simply good timing.
The book’s final miracle seemingly resolves without a beat, just acceptance without any explanation. Perhaps this is a new modern way of seeing miracles in the every day: they are what they are, guided by an Unseen Hand.
I give this four out of five stars.