Hey everyone, welcome to the first Pulp of 2018! I’ve enjoyed my time off; plenty of rest, relaxation and enjoying my time off. Now that’s all out of the way, and we’re stuck in to 2018, so I guess it’s back to work in the comic mines for me! Oh, what a tough life! Dramatisation of the end of the Christmas period notwithstanding, this week’s comic – Jonathan Hickman’s (East of West, The Manhattan Projects) 2013 series God Is Dead – certainly made for interesting reading, despite the super edgy title.
Mankind has maintained the stories of the gods for millennia. Once considered an unchanging, real force, the gods of old have been consigned to myth – Horus, Odin, Quetzalcoatl and Zeus, once powerful, revered entities, are gone from the world. On May 17th, 2015, the world was rocked by what became known as the Second Coming – the gods returned. Zeus walked the streets of Vatican City, and claimed dominion over Italy and the Mediterranean. Odin, Thor and Loki claimed the North. Quetzalcoatl and his kin claimed South America. Horus and the Egyptian pantheon claim Africa. The world descends into chaos; governments fall as religious fanatics take to the streets and proclaim their loyalty to the newly returned gods. Military forces attempt to fight – even going so far as to attempt to nuke Horus – but nothing seems to harm the divine beings, and all seems lost. As the apocalypse truly seems to be on hand, a small group of scientists attempt to do the impossible – birth the gods of science to take back the world.
If this concept sounds kind of familiar, it’s because it is; it’s along the same lines as The Wicked + The Divine, but considerably more violent. The difference between the two series’ comes down to more stylistic choices; The Wicked + The Divine focuses less on the violent side of the gods and more the social impact, whereas God Is Dead is pretty much all violence, all the time. The comparison is kind of inevitable in my mind; the two series’ started about 12 months apart – one at Avatar Press, and the other at the big new up-and-comer Image Comics – and cover very similar topics. In my mind, however, God Is Dead loses out to TW + TD in that it’s really not as compelling. It’s more or less your typical disaster story – everything’s horrible, everyone’s dying, there’s no hope etc, etc – with the added flavour of a ragtag group of scientists trying to create gods. While that added twist is probably the most appealing part of the story, the first volume seems to focus more on the gods fighting amongst themselves and generally just acting like assholes. Granted, that’s true to character for the vast majority of them, but it gets a bit bland when your entire cast of villains might as well be the same character.
God Is Dead had a lot of promise, but ultimately left me wanting more. The eventual birth of the science-based gods is short-lived, and I found the lack of details really dissatisfying, and the end of the volume seems really rushed. It was reasonably entertaining – as disaster movies tend to be – but it’s not the kind of comic you’d want to read if you’re looking for a story with nuance. It’s certainly not the worst comic I’ve read, but there are better explorations of mythology out there if that’s what you’re after.
Written by Alastair McGibbon