2: “Supergod” by Warren Ellis and Garrie Gastonny
As I have mentioned in previous reviews, my upbringing was largely fundamentalist Christian. It was not as strict as such lifestyles are normally portrayed in movies and books, but it still appears very strange in retrospect.
Case in point: I had a very brief infatuation with comic books my early teens. Unfortunately, the pendulum of my family's religious fervor was swinging deep into loony territory at that time, and I was restricted to reading religious comics, which limited me to Jack Chick's wildly deranged “The Crusaders” series. Those who believe mainstream comics are excessively violent, cynical and offensive should check out Chick's work to see how mild most mainstream fare is in comparison to these allegedly Christian works. Anyone who has been the recipient of one of Chick's equally bizarre comic-form tracts has had a taste of what awaits in his longer-form works.
I go into my history with such comics as way of explaining (perhaps more to myself than anybody else) why I was intrigued by the premise of Warren Ellis' “Supergod”, wherein the arms race of the cold war has been replaced by a race between the global superpowers to develop a superbeing of their own. Much like the consequences of the arms race, the good intentions of each nation in “Supergod” end up completely inverted, as their creations mostly slaughter the population and cause widespread destruction.
This sounds like a clever premise with the potential for a lengthly series, ala Ex Machina. Alas, Ellis unloads all his ammo into one rather slim volume, which turns a global battle that takes place over decades into a rushed affair without scope or depth. Boiling down the material to so few pages means dialogue and character development are jettisoned, leaving only a startling amount of violence and gore. This may have been a concept with promise, but the execution is completely bungled.
Even so, there is still a certain visceral thrill to all the evisceration. The artwork is top-notch, though that meant much of the carnage here is depicted with considerably more detail than I would have appreciated. And the Gods in this book that cause that destruction are remarkably original. I just wish they had more to do here than kill kill kill.
Then there's the final battle, which I will not even hint at, except to say that I cannot recall this ending having a precedent. I am sure I will recall that scene for a long time to come, even though it replaces the deeper, longer lasting shocks of books such as “Watchmen” with a turn that is closer to being a punchline than anything else. All Ellis needed to add afterwards was a trumpet sarcastically bleating “waaah-waaaaaaaah”.
From this review, one would assume I will not recommend “Supergod”, but I actually found myself glued to a book that is, at its core, a pretty lousy work. Much like so-bad-they're-good movies, or an incredibly trashy novel, “Supergod” is enjoyable for the sheer spectacle. Still, it was a shame to see such an original premise get ruined.
Maybe it will inspire Jack Chick to crank out some new issues of "The Crusaders". After all, he has already more than adequately demonstrated his skill at creating offensive comics containing almost nothing but assorted gruesomeness.
Recommended? I think everybody who is curious should read this, even though it is an extremely flawed work.