Several years ago I came across Francis, Brother of the Universe, a Marvel one-shot chronicling the life of everyone's favorite saint whose name begins with the letter "F." I wrote up a quick review of the comic (reprinted here), and promptly received notice that Marvel later published a biography of Pope John Paul II. Ever since, I've kept my beady eyes open for it whilst scouring the bargain bins. And lo, as if God himself has intervened, a copy appeared . . .
The Life of Pope John Paul II, published in 1982, was a 64-page one-shot selling for a dollar-fifty. The framing sequence for the biography is the Pope's appearance at Yankee Stadium in 1979, as a reporter sits in the stands and tries to figure out what to write about the event ("Me? I'm a newspaper man--and The Pope is my beat!"). As a gang of "hoodlums" get ready to make fun of the Pope, the reporter flashes back on the religious leader's childhood in Poland, his narrow escapes from the Nazis, and his gradual ascent through the Catholic hierarchy. When the flashbacks are completed, the Pope appears at Yankee Stadium and the hoodlums are so astonished by his words that listen raptly through the entire event.
As much as I like to tease, it's a very well-researched and interesting story, and comics are a far more entertaining way to learn a little history than official church biographies or something like Wikipedia. This is, however, a fully-authorized biography written in close connection with the Catholic Church, so you won't see anything in the way of analysis or criticism about how Vatican policies operated under PJPII's reign. Still, as a very introductory biography, one could certainly do worse . . .