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

The Story: The Norse gods continue attacking the other pantheons while the Earthly scientists test their secret weapon.

Review (with SPOILERS): This is a series that probably could be better with more adventurous art, but it would still have a hollow core of a story.  There’s nothing too mind-bending about the premise for the series or the storyline that has developed from it.  Basically, many pantheons of gods have returned to Earth and now the gods are fighting for supremacy with lowly humans trapped in the middle.  It’s just kinda stale and because the art is very direct and straight forward – there just isn’t much to get excited about.

The big event from this issue was seeing the Norse gods attacking the Egyptian gods.  It’s pretty standard stuff.  Odin postures at Anubis; Anubis postures back.  Odin grabs Anubis around the neck and rips his head off.  Turn the page and there is a double-pager of Odin holding the head and making some proclamation.  Then we get to see Thor smash in Ra’s head with his hammer.  Yay Norse gods!  I guess…

The problem is that I’m not really invested in any of these characters.  These aren’t the same Norse gods from Marvel’s comics, so it’s just watching one set of gods beating up on another set of gods.  I’m not personally a worshiper of any of these gods, so it isn’t like I can say, “Hell yeah!  Thor is THE MAN!” or “That is such bull$hit!  Everyone knows that Anubis is more powerful than Odin!”  I’ve never wasted a second of my life wondering whether the Egyptian gods were powerful or not.

When this series started, I hoped that it might tackle some of the deeper questions about religion, belief and spirituality.  For example, why have only these few pantheons come forward?  Why only the pantheistic gods?  Where is the Christian/Hebrew/Islamic god(s)?  But, the series doesn’t seem to be interested in that stuff.  It’s most about letting gods fight and rip off each other’s heads.  It’s a remarkably shallow story for a Hickman-project.  I almost feel like he is trolling us to see if the blogosphere will find some way to say something nice about a comic that just isn’t very good.

The other plotline revolves around these scientists who were trying to create an artificial god to do battle with the real gods.  There is a little bit of depth here, but only in comparison to the bluntness of Thor whacking things with a hammer.  Since their artificial god project failed, now they’re going to start injecting each other.  I guess that offers some small hope for something complex: What would real humans do if given the power of the gods?  But, this series doesn’t seem interested in those sorts of questions, so I’m not holding my breath.  Plus, we’ve seen that theme explored ad nauseum in superhero comics for the last 50 years.

The only place where this series approaches doing anything clever is with the sycophantic news media as we’ve seen this new anchor character change his tune a few times based on what group of gods was winning.  It’s slightly clever, but if you want to see Hickman eviscerate the news media, just go read The Nightly News.

Still, this could be a better-than-average series if the art was something special.  But it isn’t.  It isn’t anything wretched, but it would be hard to find art more straight-forward than this.  They don’t look like godly beings doing battle; they just look like muscular men fighting.  It’s like a fight broke out during a Halloween party at the local gym and the muscle-heads started ripping into each other.

Conclusion: There’s not much point to this issue or series.  It isn’t doing anything adventurous and isn’t asking any deep questions.  The art is average.  Skip it.

Grade: C

-Dean Stell