What is Really Real? New Comic Series Answers in Surprising Ways

Cave Pictures Publishing has launched to bring spiritual ideas into the world of comics. Their latest original title draws on ideas from Christian thinker C.S. Lewis and ancient philosopher Plato.

By Aaron Welty Published on April 15, 2019

Following the release of a comic book adaptation of classic fantasy tale The Light Princess by Scottish minister George MacDonald, Cave Pictures Publishing is venturing into original stories.

This month, they have released the first two issues of all-new comic series The Blessed Machine. Cave founder Mark Rodgers authors the modern-day parable with emerging comics writer Shahriar Fouladi (The Scooter Chronicles).

It’s a tale of humanity forced to live underground, after science gone awry leads to catastrophe. With art from Jesse Hamm (Flash Gordon) and Caitlin Like (Maiden in the Machine), the new faith-based creative group has top-notch industry talent involved.

What sets The Blessed Machine apart in the growing, influential world of modern comics are the spiritual ideas inside this work.

A Future Unknown and Underground

In the story, the human race survives beneath the earth’s surface. An attempt to harness unlimited energy had brought the planet to ecological disaster. Amidst this underworld, a young boy dreams of a mysterious Eden.

Life happens under the influence of an artificial intelligence, a triumph of technology similar to the recent Captain Marvel film. It sees, knows, and rules all. Those under its gaze seemingly worship it.

As an adult, young Jacob still dreams of a world unseen. Childhood tales of Persephone, a figure from Greek mythology, linger within dreams. Family thinks him delusional, as his visions hint at a forgotten reality. 

The Blessed Machine uses classical Greek tales to cement its narrative. Persephone illustrates seasons and weather, alongside ideas of death and resurrection.

Greek Literature for a New Generation

Questions of reality resound in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a hallmark of literature studies for centuries. In that parable, the shadow of a thing is mistaken for the thing itself.

Our growing dependence on technology should not be embraced without a reminder that we are not simply products of time and chance, or evolutionary and genetic determination. — Mark Rodgers

Rodgers founded Cave Pictures Publishing, and this work is their most recent original title. Clearly, this faith-driven team sees spiritual meaning in Plato’s timeless allegory and implores readers to look deeper.

Writing of “good dreams” in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis speculated about the nature of reality in similar terms. “He [God] sent the human race what I call good dreams,” wrote Lewis. “I mean those [strange] stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men.”

That line of reasoning has resulted in surprising revelations. Expounding on those ideas, Professor J.R.R. Tolkien led his friend C.S. Lewis to faith in Christ. 

Science, Ethics and Spiritual Realities

The Blessed Machine does not merely reimagine Plato. Instead, it draws on other sources that keen readers of C.S. Lewis may recognize.

In his novel That Hideous Strength, Lewis imagined an organization bent on exploiting nature and destroying humanity. He called it, ironically, the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments (NICE).

Their ethically dubious work was anything but nice. They attempt to reanimate a dead man’s mind via technology. But man is more than mere matter. The novel speculates about such self-driven efforts becoming a conduit to communicate with powers of spiritual darkness.

A recent piece by Rodgers reveals the influence That Hideous Strength had on The Blessed Machine. Quoting a former editor of Wired Magazine, Rodgers writes: “we thought we could control it [smart phone technology] … and this is beyond our power to control.” The Blessed Machine shows us a future surrendered to technology.

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As Rodgers notes: “our growing dependence on technology should not be embraced without a reminder that we are not simply products of time and chance, or evolutionary and genetic determination.” The Blessed Machine wants us to know there is more than meets the eye to our world. It points toward the reality of creation and the Creator behind it. 

In summary, humanity is wired to worship something. This comics series asks: is our worship directed towards the One who deserves it, or technology that all too often rules our lives?


Released this month, the first two issues of The Blessed Machine are available online and at comic book stores nationwide. Explore The Stream’s complete arts and entertainment coverage.

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