226. The Truth is Out There Vol. 1: Brendan & Erc in Exile by Amadeus

Brendan & Erc in Exile by Amadeus
The Truth is Out There, Volume 1

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (UK)

May 30, 2013, Catholic Answers, 119 pgs
Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur

Age: 14+

"A new way to bring the Catholic Faith to young people
Brendan and Erc are just your average interplanetary mailmen trying to find their way in the galaxy. But one day, while piloting cargo through the far reaches of space, they suddenly find themselves on a journey they didn’t expect: a journey to the truth.
A totally new kind of Catholic resource for apologetics and evangelization, The Truth Is Out There combines the visual excitement and quirky humor of graphic novels with solid popular philosophy and theology. The result is a book in which everyone from teens to adults can find accessible answers to questions about God, the soul, true happiness, and much more—and have fun doing it!
And because Brendan and Erc start their journey at the very beginning, readers don’t have to be Catholic—or possess any kind of faith—to appreciate the thoughtful ideas and arguments they’ll encounter. If you just have an open mind (and a sense of adventure) you will come away from these pages with a clearer sense of life’s purpose, and a better understanding of the reasons for believing in God, Jesus, and the Church. And if you’re already a believer, The Truth Is Out There will deepen your knowledge of the Faith and sharpen your skills at defending it."

Received a review copy from the publisher.

Honestly, I don't know where to begin.  This was truly way more than I had expected!  I think it is interesting to note that this is written & illustrated by a contemplative Monk using a "pen name" and from the whole tone of the book I would guess that he is a relatively young man.  So let's start on the basic entertainment level.  The artwork is fantastic!  Done in a manga style with exaggerated facial expressions and the occasional chibi, mostly in black & white but with several full colour sequences which are outstanding.  Extremely humorous which brought a smile to my face frequently, especially in the portrayal of the skeptic party-loving Erc.  The book has a good story and plot as a framework.  Set in space these two friends are interplanetary mail carriers who eventually are thrown into prison when they are framed for transporting illegal drugs.  Brendan and Erc are amazing characters!  They have two very distinct and different personalities and they look very different from each other but they are friends and equals conversing intelligently with each other while maintaining completely opposite philosophies of life.  And this is where the meat and purpose of the book comes into play.

Inside this original graphic novel is an amazingly intense and deep theological discussion suitable for teens and new adults.  Brendan is a questioning fellow and starts the age old conversation of why we are here?  what is the meaning of life?  They meet a few people along the way who explain about reason, the soul and eventually God.  I was literally blown away with the depth and rationality of these discussions of the Christian faith from a Catholic perspective.  Each discussion would include the one explaining with the answers being challenged with hard, serious, skeptical questions.  One progresses through the book examining why we are here, what is a soul, is there life after death, who is God, what is a Christian, why should one become a Christian, what need is there for Church and why choose Catholicism.  Truly, truly brilliant discussion!

As for age level, I think that for young teens the material will be somewhat heavy and deep.  However, there is a study guide available and if lead in a group setting this would be more ideal.  Older teens and adults will themselves find the material challenging.  Highly recommended for group study, youth groups, Catholic classroom, RCIA classes and homeschool.