Sunday, May 9, 2010

Recent Comics Cavalcade, Part Two

Supergod #1-3
by Warren Ellis and Garry Gastonny

This is one hell of a comic. Narrated by a heavily-intoxicated British scientist in the aftermath of some kind of apocalypse, Supergod is Warren Ellis exploring the idea of the superhero as the ultimate expression of man's urge to create the divine. It's also probably the best of his current work, if you don't count the "Do Anything" column he did for Bleeding Cool (which is amazing, and may get its own review later).

This book takes on the "professorial" feel a number of Ellis' recent works have had. His narrator doesn't merely tell the story, he discusses philosophy a bit as well. This can be a pedantic approach if not handled carefully; go too far in this direction and you find yourself outlining your story's themes for the readers, telling them what to think instead of letting it all play out for them. Ellis pulls it off here, though, and to good effect.
This is also hard science super heroes, and Ellis is doing a good job with that, too. His contention that the raising of human consciousness would lead to thought processes that we're incapable of comprehending is a nice one, though at first it feels like it might perhaps be a bit of a cheat. It allows Ellis to come up with all sorts of insanely inventive things for the supergods to do without having to completely explain why they're doing it. This is mostly evident in side-stories like the one about Maitreya, the Chinese supergod, who makes some of his keepers into a giant musical instrument that looks like a penis so that he can fire the brain-mass of his creators into space.

But then we're introduced to Dajaal, the Iraqi supergod, who was engineered with something called "tactical consciousness," the ability to see time. Ellis pulls off a nice bit where Dajaal (in a flashback) hears the narrator's voice talking about him in the future, and turns to the camera to address the audience, as well. It's a creepy, unsettling moment, and I admire the hell out of it. It's nice being reminded how good Ellis is sometimes.

The third issue was a while in coming, and I worried that Ellis may have gotten bored and wandered off his story, as has seemed to happen with so many Ellis comics in recent years (all the ones I was enjoying, anyway). But it was worth the wait, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this series doesn't degenerate into the old Ellis action chestnuts the way Black Summer did. Granted, it's all heading towards a big Supergod fight in India, so lord knows. But hope springs eternal...

Grade: A

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