PLEASANT GROVE — Heroes and villains of The Book of Mormon are joining the ranks of Spider-Man, Superman and Batman.

Nephi, Laman and Lemuel are a part of "The Golden Plates," a comic book based almost word-for-word on The Book of Mormon, and which will be available only through comic-book stores.

"For me, this is great," said Douglas Dial, owner of Fantasy Rules Comics and Games in Pleasant Grove. "It will bring a whole new audience into the store, and they will see that comic books are not so much the fluff that has been the general perception of them. They have depth, they have warmth, they have development, they have character. And for the most part, they have heroes you can count on."

The comic is drawn by Mike Allred, a veteran artist of the comics world and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which considers the Book of Mormon scripture.

Allred spent time working for Marvel and DC comics before taking time off to finish "The Golden Plates" as an independent project.

"It's more than obvious that this is the most important thing (Allred) has ever done it his career," Dial said. "You can just tell by looking at this. It's an amazing piece of work."

After more than a year of drawing and coloring, the 64-page magazine will hit stores next Wednesday — but Dial is getting it early. He has a shipment of 500 copies that he will begin selling today for $7.99 each. And he's committed to keeping sufficient quantities on hand for his customers. He also has several pages on his store's Web page, www.fantasyrules.com.

Dial already has more than 100 customers on a waiting list, which he says is an indication of the comic's unprecedented advance interest. "This is a very, very, special thing," Dial said. "I haven't seen a reaction like this ever before."

Though "The Golden Plates" is based on a religious text, Dial said the fact that it will only be available in comic-book stores means that many comic lovers who have never heard of the Book of Mormon before might be more likely to read it.

Comment on this story

Inside the front cover of the magazine, Allred has written a statement of his belief in the Book of Mormon.

But "The Golden Plates" is not meant to take the place of reading The Book of Mormon, Dial said. "It's not a substitute. This is not a replacement but a tool to help members and nonmembers learn about the Book of Mormon."


E-mail: achoate@desnews.com