Underrated: God Country
This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: God Country
God Country has one of the more interestingly unique concepts in comics; that of an Alzheimer’s patient who is cured when his hand touches a twelve foot sword, only to be drawn into the soap opera like world of space gods that have more than a passing resemblance to the Greco-Roman pantheons. Written by Donny Cates, who also co-wrote The Paybacks with Eliot Rahal; that series looked at the other side of superheroing with a starkly funny focus on a group of knock off characters serving as superpowered repomen (and women) struggling to emerge from the crippling debt their equipment put them in. On the surface, God Country may have little in common with The Paybacks other than half of the writing team (and Geoff Shaw‘s art), that’s certainly true on a superficial thematic level, but at their core both series focus on something quite relatable: people and their struggles against every day adversity.
There is every chance that you probably recognize Cates’ name from his work on Venom, Thor and King In Black, and I’ll admit that it feels strange to write about something Donny Cates has written as being underrated, but this is a book that I don’t see people talk about as much as they should.
Emmet Quinlan’s family have been struggling with the horror of watching a loved one slip away whilst suffering from Alzheimer’s, and their struggles are haunting – if you’ve ever had to watch a loved one slip away while suffering this horrible disease as I have, then you’ll understand immediately how hard it can be. Donny Cates treats the subject with the respect it deserves without sugar coating the emotions that Emmet’s family face.
Of course, with this being a comic book called God Country, that’s not what the comic is about.
At least not in it’s entirety. You see Emmet finds a giant sentient sword that restores his mind in its entirety. While Emmet’s disease does form the backbone of his desire to keep his hand on the sword that returned his mind, it’s the conflict with the space gods who want the sword back that provides the more immediate physical threat.
If you enjoyed Jason Aaron’s run on Thor: God Of Thunder then you’re going to find a lot to love here, from the heavily emotional sequences in the first issue to the more operatic space god scenes in subsequent comics, this is a powerful series – indeed, without Cates wry humour that appears every so often throughout the series, then this could easily become an almost too heavy story.
Ultimately though, this story is so much more than it seems on the surface.
God Country is that rare beast that uses a well thought out high concept science fiction or fantasy premise to tell the most human of stories. It is truly a work of art that had my eyes sweaty with respect – and that doesn’t happen very often when I read comics.
Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.