Review: God Country #1

godcountry_01-1First, let’s begin by saying it’s rare that a colorist steals the show. Yet, that is absolutely the case with Jason Wordie. Wordie’s colors avoid the drab temptation of the story’s Texas prairie setting and instead engages the reader’s eye. Warm and cool tones provide a visually interesting storytelling experience. The pages slide green to red, coloring monsters in purples and tan in ways that not only defy the use of words but capture the sense of the fantastic hidden within an otherwise dreary world.

Combined with Geoff Shaw’s textured work, God Country is visually complex and greatly satisfying.

Now, unlike art, a story can be harder to dissect after a single issue. For that reason, none of this should seem overly critical of the story. In the interest of not giving away spoilers, it is difficult to discuss the story. After all, the beats that are placed here in this first issue are supposed to ignite wonder and crack open the door to possibility. To reveal that would be to prevent you from enjoying it for yourself. It also prevents discussing the redeeming aspect of the book.

To judge the book by the first issue without spoiling the end, it fails to launch the reader into the next issue. Most of the book deals with Roy Quinlan (presumably the main character) trying to deal with his father, Emmett, as he dangerously descends into Alzheimer’s Disease. There is no real allusion to a threat or conflict that would carry you into the next issue. The story really sort of simply ends this issue. There is no further problem outside of the narrator directly telling you of it in the final panels.

However, saying there is conflict is not creating conflict in the reader.

Quite truly, the last few sentences in the issue should have been the first, creating a sense of conflict within the reader as they attempt to figure out what it means contrasted against this dark drama. While the focal conflict or story disappears at the end, it would clarify the initial conflict (being that of a reader trying to understand how the words fit in) and create a rewarding sense in the reader.

That would then extend itself into curiosity. After all, the reader has already asked themselves, “What does the writer have up their sleeve?” and been greatly rewarded. There would be an eagerness to follow into the next issue. To promise conflict in the future at the very last minute ends up feeling a bit like the narrator at the end of an old serial telling you to “come back next time” without really giving you a reason why.

In fact, this book is very much reminiscent of an older comic book or story.

And as I’ve said plenty without spoiling anything, go no further unless you’ve already read the conclusion.

Emmett’s sudden rebirth as a warrior, bordering on demigod, harkens back to classic comic books. There’s a tornado, a cataclysmic event, that bears forth great heroism. Think Hulk. The sudden emergence of Emmett with a magic and formidable sword seems to make as something greater than man. Think Thor. Top it off with scheming from a god above. Think… Hercules? Well, maybe not solely an old comic. However, this approach of telling a story like this, through the wandering word-of-mouth accounting of the narrator, does make it feel like legend.

However, the vast majority of the book, “Hey, Roy, you’re Dad’s sick, dangerous and your wife seems to be leaving you…” leads to maybe two pages of “Holy moly, Roy, I think your Dad is Hulk-Thor-Hercules…” and caps off with, “And there’s a god who’s not happy about it” causes the story to jerk hard in a new direction at the last moment. Frankly, to introduce the onlooking god sooner would have made for better consistency in the story and given a better concept of the world the story takes place in. Because otherwise, it’s really a story about a mentally deteriorating father… in a world where old people might also have super-magic weapons.

Story: Donny Cates  Art: Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie
Story: 6 Art: 9 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Disagree? Feel free to take a swing at Patrick on his website.