Today I happened across what I believe to be the first Chick tract of 2020: Virtual Reality?, from the standard post-Chick team of writer David W. Daniels and artist Fred Carter. I was pretty eager to read it: was the Chick empire doing for virtual reality what it had so famously done for Dungeons and Dragons?
Well… not exactly.
The tract gets off to a brilliant start, as the opening six panels are intent on being utterly bewildering. The main character claims to be God, and successfully creates a pair of women, a pile of money and even an entire landscape around him. So, he’s in a VR world, right? Nope: the fifth panel reveals that he’s in the real world, and has no interest in trying out virtual reality.
So, this guy is apparently the Chickland concept of a typical atheist. He doesn’t believe in God, so therefore he sees himself as God, to the point of hallucinating himself creating the Sun and asking random bystanders why they’re in his world. That’s not so much a secular outlook as form of megalomania.
Although, in a stopped-clock moment, this oddly deluded person does ask a pretty good question. What do those guys think they’re doing? Who plays VR games while kneeling under a tree in a park?
Our misguided protagonist gives in and accepts the VR goggles, which take him on a trip through a standard Chick-tract version of world history. Only now it’s hipper, because virtual reality.
I’m going to have to give Daniels credit, though: he’s a quality successor to Jack Chick. “Noah’s a crazy ark-building conspiracy nut” is a line worthy of the master.
But our hero rejects the message given to him in Chick VR, and has a nasty surprise when Jesus materialises in his bedroom.
After some more world-class dialogue, the story’s mysteries are revealed: protagonist Kent has been in a coma the whole time.
But fortunately for him, he accepted Christ before recovering (are we meant to infer that his unconscious conversion caused his recovery?) and all are joyed.
Ans so ends Virtual Reality? I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed: I was hoping for a polemic about the evils of immersive digital entertainment, rather than a typically out-of-touch attempt at being down-with-the-kids. Still, it’s taught me a valuable life lesson: if I ever fall into a coma, all I need is to accept the offer of scary bedroom Jesus and I, too, will be transformed into Mick Jagger.