By: Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa (writers), Di Amorim (art), Juanmar (colors) and Kurt Hathaway (letters)

The Story: The Gods have returned to Earth.  Some people aren’t happy about that.

Review (with SPOILERS): There are a few decent moments in this issue, but it doesn’t seem to be interested in tackling the really big questions that would put it over the top.  There is more slam-bang than anything deep.

If you missed the first issue, the basic premise is that in modern times, several pantheons of Gods return to Earth: Zeus, Odin, Quetzacoatl, etc.  They are not benevolent Gods and demand to be worshipped and honored.  Some humans fall right into line as governments crumble.  Some humans hang on and resist…

The issue largely misses the mark because it takes the easy and noisy path.  Most of the action takes place with humans fighting Gods and infighting amongst the Gods themselves.  There’s just nothing novel about seeing a US military being threatened by Gods or aliens or whatever and taking the drastic step of using nuclear weapons in a US city.  We’ve seen that.  We’ve heard the dialog about the “innocent civilians” and we’ve heard the commander dismiss that concern as a necessary sacrifice.  We’ve seen these types of threats stand impervious to “our” biggest weapons before.  I guess it beats home the message that it will take a non-traditional approach to defeat these Gods, but I would have hoped that writers as talented as Hickman and Costa could have come up with a better way for us to get to this point.

By the end of the issue, the Gods are fighting amongst themselves.  I guess if you are fascinated by any of these Godly pantheons, you might be a little interested in seeing which God has better power levels.  But, its hard to get too excited about this since it is a fictional story.  It’s like watching a Battle Royale that is won by HHH and claiming that means he is the baddest of all the wrestlers: No….he’s just the wrestler that the writers wanted to win in that event.

The issue totally avoids some of the more interesting territory that I’d hoped to cover like: Why have only these Gods returned?  Where is the God of Christianity, Islam and Judaism?  Why none of the other pantheons?  Did these Gods kill the other Pantheons before they even made it to Earth?  Will the secular West change it’s tune now?  It just doesn’t seem like the comic wants to explore anything very deep.

Now…..there were a couple of kinda subtle moments that give me very small hope for this series going forward.  One is the allusion that these Gods may not be real things, they might be manifestations of belief from their worshipers.  Kinda like the God is only as strong as it’s believers.  Hmmm……you could do something interesting with that concept.  I also enjoyed the role that the news anchor played.  Remember, he was the guy in the first issue who proclaimed that “This network will not descend into religious mumbo jumbo….” in the first issue, and then days later he is appearing in robes with a third eye painted on his forehead.  Jonathan Hickman showed us in The Nightly News what kind of sycophants he thinks the news media is.  Let’s see if this religious news angle continues to develop.

The art also isn’t good enough to save the day.  It isn’t anything bad, but I think it’s a little too literal and realistic for the subject matter.  I mean, these are GODS.  They should look more majestic than this.  Zeus and Odin just look like really muscular dudes doing cosplay.  I also found it odd that all of the Gods’ new followers must immediately strip to the waist and wear robes that flatter their six-pack abs.  Where are the fatties?  The coloring is a little too bright too.  This is a dark, dark story.  It shouldn’t be so bright… makes the story lose impact and gravitas because the sun is always shining on everyone.

Conclusion: Meh….this series doesn’t seem to want to address the really deep questions.  It would rather show a Godly battle with tanks and other Gods.  What’s more, it doesn’t seem to have that hard edge that I associate with a Hickman story.  He usually has some point and he is going to poke you right in the eyes with that point…..but I’m not sure what he’s trying to say here.

Grade: C-

– Dean Stell