Fatal Decision


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» October 17, 2023
Not Another Religious Tract Dissection by Boolean Union Studios

Fatal Decision (FTLD)
Fatal Decision. Tract #204. Art by Jack Chick - © 2008 Chick Publications

Fatal Decision - Tract #204 (FTLD)
Art by Jack Chick - © 2008 Chick Publications

First Published: September 4th, 2014

...with special Guest Commentator: Senator Jason of "Crimes Against Divinity".

"Fatal Decision" tells the story of John who is bitten by some unnamed animal while traveling through some unnamed jungle. Through this bite he is infected with a deadly disease and comes under the care of a one Dr. Bowers back in America. After promising John's mother that he would do all that he can to save John, Dr. Bowers travels to Switzerland and purchases a treatment at his own expense in order to save John's life. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollar on this treatment and losing his own son to a car accident while delivering it to his patient, John, who is experiencing "euphoria" believes himself to be cured and destroys the treatment. A few days later, in what is no doubt one of the most memorable panels to be found in a Chick tract, all of his skin melts off and he dies. Ultimately, this tract served as a heavy handed parable of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


  Jessica   Senator Jason   Sean  



Senator Jason




Page Index
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

o Introduction

SeanSean This is the story of a total idiot whose very mind set violates both intelligent thought and common sense. Now at first glance you may think this is a cleverly disguised metaphor for personal salvation and how one must accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior... but you'd be dead wrong, there is nothing clever about this tract.
JessicaJessica It seems to be an unavoidable compulsion for evangelicals to try to take the story of salvation through Jesus and shoehorn it into ridiculous metaphorical stories, I suppose in an effort to get the "common man" to understand them (see Ron Wheeler.) Chick is also a particularly egregious offender. I think it shows exactly how little credit these people actually give their audiences.


o Cover / Page 1

Cover / Page 1
Senator JasonJason Given a cover like this and Jack's ham-fisted writing style, I can rest assured that our protagonist is going to end up in Hell. If you're a Christian and have the good fortune to look like the Brawny Paper Towel Guy, then you're pretty much assured a seat right next to the Almighty. The bald, bucktoothed, and dark skinned on the other hand, well … they have very little chance for salvation in Chick's Universe ... much in the same way people in Harry Potter end up living up to their given names:

Remus LupinFenrir Greyback? Werewolves.
Severus Snape? Total hardass.
Voldemort? Evil. Dead at least once. No nose.
Dolores Umbridge? Miserable and evil (and possibly the alter ego of my old 6th grade school teacher).

I swear to God if I ever found myself in the JK Rowling wizarding world the first thing I would do is run to the courthouse and change my name to something like Girth Trustfund. That way, even if I happen to find myself on the business end of an Avada Kedavra spell, there's a good chance I'd have had some fun beforehand.

Alright, now I'm just putting things off...
SeanSean Just going by the title page, you'd think this was some kind of anti-drug tract, with the fatal decision in question having something to do with heroin or some other drug that needs to be injected. Kudos there for surprising me Jackie.
JessicaJessica Why do I envision this particular illustration being co-opted by that ridiculous anti-vax movement?


o Page 2

Page 2
Senator JasonJason This is what we call "cause and effect". You're neck deep in the Amazon, wearing what looks like a pair of Old Navy capri pants, and you're acting surprised that something bit you. Of course, I would be worried too. Not too many bug bites generate enough voltage to begin arcing out of the wound.
SeanSean Not to mention a serious rending of human skin and muscle. I think the disease should take secondary priority to "Holy shit, he's going to bleed out in seconds if we don't close the wound!"
JessicaJessica Who exclaims "Something's biting me!" while getting bitten? Seems to be an unnecessary bit of narration to me.


o Page 3

Page 3
SeanSean What worries me, is that he's being flown to the US in a civilian jet liner. If this disease is as serious as they claim, then he probably shouldn't be surrounded by a bunch of civilians that can easily become infected, and as a result, carriers to said sickness. And if he's not in a civilian jet, then why the fuck are they transporting him in a 747?
Senator JasonJason "Only a miracle can save us now!" **cue horse whinnying**

Senator JasonJason Hey, how about instead of looking at the leg, you look where you're going? I hope those are clouds, because otherwise, you're about 500 feet from what the NTSB calls a "controlled flight into terrain". Oh, by the way, I hope you have insurance ... because otherwise all this talk of "never seen this before" and "nothing to fight this with" gets translated into American English as, "pre-existing condition", and "this is gonna cost you".

"Hey! Is this dissection about health care or religion??"

Right ... sorry.
JessicaJessica Are they seeking medical assistance from some random hobo? Or does Chick think this is what everyone who lives in the Congo (or wherever they're supposed to be) looks like?


o Page 4

Page 4
SeanSean That whole first panel makes me laugh when I read it out loud, just think about the tone you'd use with the punctuations. "I WANT THE BLOOD WORK DONE, STAT!!!!!" "He's critical."
Senator JasonJason “This can't be!”

"I'm afraid it is. It's the last symbol we need to activate the stargate and go home!!"


o Page 5

Page 5
Senator JasonJason "Dr. Bowers?"


"You look like a total dork."

"Thank you, Nurse. Here, hold this open vial for me and breathe deeply."
SeanSean Actually Doc, given the rapid nature of this Virus' infection, I think it's safe to say that it's not airborne. Who wants to bet that they'll drop the standard procedure and keep him in a normal hospital bed where he is prone to infection, and is likely to infect other patients?


o Page 6

Page 6
Senator JasonJason “Are you interested, Dr. Bowers?”

"Naah, forget it. I've got a date with my receptionist tonight. It's time for our weekly physicals."
Jessica The doctor he's Skyping with is leading him on.

"He'll die within the week, unless" <dot><dot><dot>
Senator JasonJason It's interesting that a guy like Chick would reference things like different strains of a virus, the CDC, vaccines, and so forth ... almost as if he were admitting that this bullshit "theory" of evolution actually has merit. It would also appear that Dr. Bowers is evolving into William H. Macy.
SeanSean I kinda see it, but to me he looks like Dr. Mark Sloan from "Diagnosis Murder".


o Page 7

Page 7
Senator JasonJason Okay, how about this, lady. Take the $3,000, head straight to a plastic surgeon, and tell them to take off about seven inches off of your nose. While you're there, ask if they can get you up to date on all of your immunizations seeing how you apparently have a case of the mumps. Jesus, you'd think with the decades of doing the same thing, Chick would not only be better at drawing proportional human faces, but at doing it a little more consistently too.

"Dr. Bowers, you have no idea what you've gotten yourself into. From this point on, every feature of your face will migrate towards your nose until you start to resemble Woll Smoth. There is no cure."
SeanSean My bad, now he looks like a hybrid of Dr. Sloan and Mr. Potato Head.


o Page 8

Page 8
Senator JasonJason Meanwhile, in Switzerland...

Wait, why are you using your own money? Use the hospital's until you bill John and his mother. That's the American Way!! What are you, some sort of Communist? Actually, a communist wouldn't spend his own money either. OK, you're just an idiot ... for that, and for buying a vial of anything from a homeless Marty Feldman with no eye pigment.
SeanSean Eh... to me he kinda looks like Dr. House. (Who is a self professed Atheist both on and off camera). Which seems to imply that Jack Chick has turned on that Satanic television box sometime in the last 20 years.
JessicaJessica Why Switzerland? Are they on the forefront of devloping treatments for hemmoragic fever and I just didn't hear about it?


o Page 9

Page 9
Senator JasonJason "The last time he and I went out drinking, I woke up the next morning with this pierced ear and a 'Rick Astley Fangirl' tramp stamp. He just snickers when I ask him why I was surrounded by flamingos, and to this day my pants are still missing. I will never forgive him."
SeanSean Why all the hate towards the one Doctor? Did he wedge a penny in the doorframe or something?
JessicaJessica This guy has a Fang tattoo as well! It must be a new fad or something.


o Page 10

Page 10
Senator JasonJason "Before giving him the vaccine, you must say these three words exactly ... 'Klaatu, barada, nikto' ... say them with me ..."

Wait, didn't you say that this guy only had a week? What the hell are you still doing Switzerland? Get your ass back home!
SeanSean So he has a week to live, but at his stage he'll experience Euphoria a week before death...

Uh oh.
JessicaJessica That doctor looks an awful lot like standard depictions of the judeo-christian god. Chick, your metaphor is showing...


o Page 11

Page 11
Senator JasonJason There's nothing wrong with the doctor, John. Brutus just crapped his pants, that's all. He must have cleaned your room wearing gloves made from the same rubber they use to make LOW GRADE CONDOMS and contracted your ulcerative stargate-glyphitis.


I also want to pause to comment on the "secondary plot" concept that Chick's introduced. Not only does this act as a filler to give these soul-winning missives some substance and sense of literary appeal, but they also force me to think about how to make fun of seemingly innocuous random conversations to keep the readers' interest until the punchline.
SeanSean This janitor is so ugly that his fleas are jumping ship.
JessicaJessica "Something wrong with him?" Have you seen his face?!?!


o Page 12

Page 12
Senator JasonJason Wait, that's all it took to sow the seeds of doubt here? The word of a scummy looking janitor? Oh, I get it. He's supposed to be the “skeptic”. Stay classy, Jack. I've got an idea, John: why don't you ask some of the nurses - or the other doctors - about Dr. Bowers instead of simply settling for the role of "I'm ugly and stupid so I'm going to Hell because Chick doesn't like me." Jeez, stand up for yourself. Though, in fairness, if it's anything like your standard American hospital, the janitor's probably the only person this guy's been seeing for the last few days.

I also think Brutus is bitter that laser tattoo removal is so expensive on a janitor's wage.
JessicaJessica Ugly is an understatement. He kind of looks like Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
SeanSean And it seems I was right on the money. The guy is kept out of Quarantine and allowed to mingle with a scummy janitor who is now probably spreading this virus everywhere. Consistency is for heathens.


o Page 13

Page 13
Senator JasonJason You know, I'd ask how two cars could collide in mid-air like that, especially over a divider, but the years I've been behind the wheel have pretty much opened my mind up to any possibility by this point. I've seen overturned cars positioned such that I think they had been airlifted to that spot and left there just to mess with our heads. I've also seen several car fires, a black bear trying to cross the interstate, and the occasional moose, so this just might be the most plausible panel Chick has written to date.
JessicaJessica Jeez... you live in Canada or something?
SeanSean Given the nature of the Divine in Jack's work, I'd say this is a clear indication that God wants this guy dead.


o Page 14

Page 14
Senator JasonJason Hey, it's Dr. Ehrlich from St. Elsewhere! Why is your head all slanted back and pointy at the top? Is this what happens when you're "born again"?? HAW HAW.

Plus, if it weren't for the fact that John's mother said she had no other family, I'd have thought we found his sister. They have to have Manga in their family tree somewhere.
SeanSean Jesus, this is a regular rogue's gallery of TV Doctors. Who's next? Dr. CoxDr. NickDr. Dagless from Darkplace?
JessicaJessica This plot is getting seriously contrived. I mean, even by Chick's standards.


o Page 15

Page 15
Senator JasonJason Wow, Doc, you're looking pretty upbeat in light of your son's recent death. In fact, everyone's downright chipper. Your son must have been a real asshole to get this kind of dismissal. At least your face is back to normal. Maybe the airbag pushed it back into place.
SeanSean Doctor Sloan's kinda taking this case a little to personally if you ask me. I'm going to assume that John has really good Health Insurance and he's just trying to milk him for all he's worth.
JessicaJessica So much for Obamacare.


o Page 16

Page 16
Senator JasonJason I dunno, I'd be a little suspicious of anything that glows like that, especially since Igor didn't really give specific handling instructions.
SeanSean Apparently the plane trip to Switzerland was so fast that it launched him backwards in time, since as we established the guy will go into remission one week before death.
Senator JasonJason “This, will save your life.”

This, is an inappropriate use of a comma.
JessicaJessica If he's ok, why does he even care to hear about it? Is he bored or something? Also, if he's better, wouldn't he ask why he hasn't been discharged from the hospital yet?
Senator JasonJason At this point we should all clearly see Chick's angle here ... "you're sick but you don't know it", "I sacrificed my son" ... let's see how it plays out.


o Page 17

Page 17
Senator JasonJason The promise you made to his mother? How about the Hippocratic Oath?

Closer ... closer ... now kiss me, you fool!
SeanSean Regardless of whether or not you realize this guy is going to destroy the vial, you probably shouldn't get it so close to the guy carrying something so fatal. This is seriously the least sanitary Hospital I've ever laid eyes upon.
Senator JasonJason Seriously, you might have wanted to take the price tag off of that little vial before showing it to him. I think in the time it took for you to ask him what was wrong, he made the decision to take his chances with the disease instead of spending the rest of his life paying for a treatment he'll never afford.
JessicaJessica He seems awfully angry at that vial. If he thinks he's better why get this worked up over it?

...oh that's right! He's the strawman athiest and this is how Chick's persecution complex makes him see anyone who doesn't buy into his schlock. My bad.


o Page 18

Page 18
Senator JasonJason "Ha! I've outwitted you! Now I don't have to pay for treatment since it was destroyed before you could inject me!"

Little does John know that Dr. Bowers is going to sneak into his room in the middle of the night and hook up an air compressor to his IV. That "one week" prognosis was a generous estimate.
SeanSean Y'know if the Doctor was trying to poison you, I'm pretty sure he'd do it in a much more efficient way. Traveling thousands of miles and spending all of his life savings on a bogus vaccine is a bit extreme when he could have just had your IV filled with bleach. Just saying.
JessicaJessica I would actually pay money to have Chick take classes in drawing manga. Seriously. His characters would still be oddly proportioned, but there'd be a little consistency in it. Maybe he could ghost write the Truth for Youth web site every so often. I don't recall that site updating in a long time.


o Page 19

Page 19
Senator JasonJason Anyone else reminded of this?

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.
SeanSean I know we're supposed to feel sorry for this guy, but all his actions point to him being a total asshole. So yeah, no sympathy here.
Senator JasonJason So finally, the message of the story is revealed, huh? I didn't realize that sin was something totally outside God's control ... or that forgiveness was so rare and conditional ... or that Jesus was God's road buddy who had about as much to do with the story as a Star Trek Redshirt ... or - most importantly - that it was so objectively clear that we're all destined to Hell to start with.

Really, the only way for it to work is if it was Dr. Bowers who bit John's leg in the jungle in the first panel. That would explain a great deal and besides, if we're really going to make a parallel here, who else would be responsible for John's condition but the one who has the "cure"?
JessicaJessica I just love this frame. I made it into a forum avatar years ago.


o Page 20

Page 20
Senator JasonJason Heh heh ... Sandra Oh and Mr. Spock are going to Hell. Well, at least they're not alone.

If you're really going to make this about Christianity and sin and all that, let's restart the tract with John walking down the street, perfectly healthy, and Dr. Bowers, already wheelchair-bound, sidling up to him unnoticed:

Dr. B: "I'm so glad I found you, my friend ..."

John: "... uhh ... are you talking to me?"

Dr. B: "Yes! Yes, of course. I've been looking for you. You're very sick, you know."

John: "... what are you talking about? I just had a physical, and got a clean bill of health."

Dr. B: "But they don't know what I know! I know of a disease that lays dormant and invisible, until one day, it STRIKES!!"

John: (steps back) "... right ... what are the symptoms?"

Dr. B: "Well ... there's no way to actually detect the disease ... but I know you have it ... you have to trust me!"

John: "... right ..."

Dr. B: "... and when it strikes, it can take on any form! A stroke, a heart attack, diabetes ..."

John: "That's convenient ..."

Dr. B: "... an errant bus ..."

John: "I'm leaving."

Dr. B: "But if you drink the contents of this bottle, you will be healed!"

John: "Is that a bottle of Maker's Mark with the label scratched off?"

Dr. B: "You are going to die!"

John: (walks away)

Dr. B: "You're also on fire!! I have something for that too!"
SeanSean Holy Crap is this whitewashed! These sinners are obviously meant to be a colorful bunch made up of different ethnicities, but for whatever reason, Jack opted to make their skin snow white! I would have thought after working with Fred Carter, a Black Man (No, Seriously.) he would at least known that human pigmentation is quite varied! 10 bucks says even Jesus is white.
JessicaJessica All sinners STINK!!! LITERALLY!!!


o Page 21

Page 21
Senator JasonJason Now comes the big question: When Jesus died for your sins, did he have to cross the International Date Line for there to be three days between Friday and Sunday?
SeanSean Yep, still as white as the entire Osmond clan.
JessicaJessica Standard daily helping of John 3:16. Now certified to contain at least 75% recycled Jesus.


o Page 22

Page 22
Senator JasonJason Thomas was given the courtesy of meeting Jesus and touching his wounds before believing what had happened. Give me the same firsthand opportunity, and I'll convert.
SeanSean Oh no wait, there's a black guy... being thrown into Hell. What a coinkidink.
JessicaJessica I don't even know if that guy really is black. It might just be the lighting.


o Conclusion

Senator JasonJason So there you have the "parable" of the sick man having doubt placed in his heart by the janitor refusing the gift of life from the doctor who lost his only son in the process. Calling him an ungrateful wretch in this particular context might be understandable. Calling non-Christians ungrateful for not believing your steaming pile of Truth without any supporting evidence is another ... but at least he provides us with entertainment on a bimonthly basis.

Anyway, swing and a miss, Jack. Feeble, yet still dissection worthy.

So there's that.
SeanSean Not really much to say about this one. The metaphor fails entirely, the internal logic is terrible, and the salvation message is the same old copy-paste we've heard about a million times. 


o Further Reading


o Other Reviews & Commentaries