By: Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa (writers), Di Amorim (art), Juanmar (colors) and Kurt Hathaway (letters)
The Story: Gods return to the Earth. Some people dig it, some people don’t.
Review (with minor SPOILERS): This is an interesting issue. I’m not sure it is a great issue, but it was entertaining and raised a few philosophical questions that could be intriguing if the creators choose to pursue them.
Honestly, the main impetus to buy this comic was the Hickman name on the cover. I just think that Hickman is a font of nifty ideas. He’s also gifted from a graphical design and presentation standpoint and coming along as a pure writer. He’s one to watch and he’s rarely guilty of being boring, so I’ll sample just about anything with his name on the cover. Until I read the issue, I wasn’t aware that this was a collaboration with Mike Costa, but his name shouldn’t keep anyone away. Mike Costa’s GI Joe: Cobra title has consistently been the best GI Joe book the last few years by featuring tight plotting and aspiring to be something other than a fanboy ode.
The basic premise of God is Dead is that the gods of old return to the Earth. We’re talking about Odin and Zeus as well as the old Aztec and Hindu pantheons. When the gods get here, they inspire some parts of the population to descend into religious fervor and we get things like groups in Mexico doing human sacrifices on top of the old Aztec pyramids. Some other parts of the population want to continue with the modern world, so we’ve got a nifty little source of conflict for the series. We also learn that the gods are working together with a plan for world-domination in a scene that is very much like seeing a supervillain team-up in a Marvel or DC comic book.
So, this comic series could be as simple as watching American tanks and helicopters launching rockets at Zeus’ troops. And, that might be fun in a way. But I also hope that this comic aspires to be something a little bigger. That hope is what will keep me returning for future issues.
- Why just these gods? – Obviously, we’re missing the gods/god of the big-three monotheistic religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It’s interesting that all the returning gods come from religious that are polytheistic. Is there a reason for that? Is the title, “God is Dead” a clue? Note that is isn’t called, “Gods are Dead”… Where are the other religions?
- Similarities to real-world problems – In American politics we see the obvious split between those who believe we should set our laws and policies according to the Bible and those who do not. But, I’ve also heard the struggle between “The West” and the Islamic world as a struggle not between Christians and Muslims, but between believers and non-believers. Most of Western Europe and the United States do not believe in a god; most of the rest of the world does believe in some higher power. It can be hard to come to agreement on complex issues when people aren’t even entering the argument from the same place. In this first issue, we see how some people are pretty willing to accept the gods and how some people would rather fight with the gods to keep what they currently have. It’ll be interesting if the creators continue to draw this parallel.
- How edgy will it get? – So far, the comic is pretty shallow. I’m not that interested in seeing a comic that just portrays a few godly pantheons in the roles of Darkseid and Dr. Doom. That’s boring. Let’s see if these creators are willing to do some things that piss people off by poking at religion or poking at non-believers. Let’s get subversive and interesting! Are they willing and interested in doing a Salman Rushdie? I’d probably advise against that since comics aren’t going to make you enough money to be worth the death threats, but if they’re willing to go that direction, I’ll eagerly watch. Maybe they’re willing to do something similar to what Sean Murphy did with Punk Rock Jesus? I’d be fine with that.
Overall, there is a lot of potential in the concept. This first issue just establishes the overall scenario, so I really have no idea (yet) whether this will be an edgy comic of just something that is derivative of a Big 2 superhero work that uses gods as bad guys (since they’re in the public domain). It may turn out to be nothing, but at least the potential for boldness is present.
The art is fine. There’s nothing about the art that is so excellent that it can drag along a subpar story (if it goes in that direction), but it also isn’t anything so bad that it’ll damage a wonderful story either (if it goes in that other direction). It’s fairly traditional and solid. I never had any trouble understanding the story and it isn’t over-inked like so many Avatar titles can be. The coloring is a little bright for my taste, but that’s a personal thing.
Conclusion: An interesting premise. Now let’s see if they do anything with it.