Review : God Country #1
Some books, you just know they’re gonna be all kinds of bad-ass before they even hit the shelves.
Such was the case with God Country#1, the first of several highly-touted new releases from Image Comics to make its debut in 2017. The brainchild of writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw, preview pages for this title looked absolutely spectacular, although it was hard to tell if Shaw or colorist Jason Wordie was the real star of the show, visually speaking. And ya know what? Now that the comic itself is here, I’m still not sure who’s earned that distinction.
Let’s just call it a draw, then, and say that Wordie’s “digital-watercolor” palette and Shaw’s dynamic, high-energy pencils and inks complement each other really well and make for one hell of a good-looking book. Bleak Texas landscapes have never seemed so weirdly breathtaking, but when “shit gets cosmic,” well — that’s when all the stops are really pulled out and our intrepid artistic duo, if you’ll forgive the cliche, kicks things into another gear altogether.
Which brings us, I suppose, to the story. Essentially what we’re dealing with here is a Marvel Silver Age-style origin tale, albeit with some notable, perhaps even gimmicky, twists. Roy Quinlan has moved, along with his wife and young daughter, from Austin to the middle of fucking nowhere in order to look after his aging and Alzheimer’s-ridden father, Emmett. His family’s ready to bail on the crotchety old bastard, but just as they get in the car to beat a well-deserved exit, the sky rips open, a cosmically-powered, six-foot (if I remember correctly) sword falls into Emmett’s hands, his brain and body are magically patched up, and hey — the timing couldn’t be better because, unbeknownst to any and everyone, the sword’s supposedly-rightful owner is coming to fetch his wayward weapon. By the power of Grayskull, indeed.
Cates has made a name for himself as co-writer on The Paybacks, and I’m fully confident that he can handle things solo here, but this opening salvo is of necessity an exercise in “broad-stroke” immediate characterization, which he pulls off quite effectively. It’s nothing game-changingly special in and of itself, mind you, but the script does what it needs to do with a reasonable amount of obvious gusto and enthusiasm that’s bordering on the infectious when it needs to be and doesn’t give your attention time enough to wander from the main thrust of the proceedings, so quickly do events follow one atop the other. But, again, when you’re working with collaborators as talented as Shaw and Wordie, arguably one of the best things a writer can do is just stand back and let his or her artists do the bulk of the storytelling.
And that they do, dear reader, with enthusiasm and ambition to spare. Sure, I got a free digital preview copy of this courtesy of Image, but I was more than happy to plunk down $3.99 for a physical copy just to ogle these breathtaking images on paper rather than a screen. We’ve all seen the stereotypical “cosmic storm” in too many comics to count, and while nobody did it better than Jack Kirby (nor will anyone), this comes reasonably close to a modernized take on the trope — minus the krackle, of course, but never fear, there’s raw “intergalactic energy” happening all over the place here. Seldom does art “blow away” a grizzled veteran reader like myself, but it did here, and for that reason alone God Country #1 is worth a purchase on your part. I liked the story just fine, sure, but I absolutely loved the artwork — and so will you. By the time this issue was over, I found myself more than happy to add this title to my already-frighteningly-large pull list.
Writer : Donny Cates Artist: Geoff Shaw Colorist : Jason Wordie
Story : 7 Art : 9.5 Overall : 8 Recommendation : Buy