Review: The Goddamned #1
“While those familiar with Genesis may think they know the whys and wherefores of the Bible’s first Apocalypse, Aaron and Guera do a phenomenal job at filling in the gaps, making an old story new again and a demonized man a bit more human. Spread the good word, readers: The Goddamned #1 borders on heavenly.”
The Goddamned #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: r.m. Guera
Release Date: Wed, Nov 11, 2015
Humans have an innate urge to want to skip to the end, to learn how it All Turns Out. Sometimes the whole of human progress, while seemingly on a trajectory some telos or end, winds up looking somewhat like a serialized TV show or comic book series, stretching on into infinity. It’s no wonder that, whether you’re the religious sort or not, humanity has a fascination with the End of All Things. We see it in biblical literature, we see it with the turning of the calendar, we see it with an anticipation when some huckster on TV declares that the world will end tomorrow, only to explain away a distinct lack of Apocalypse by saying that the Almighty has spared our sinnin’ souls… this time. There’s a twisting need to know the conclusion, how we turn out. Do we damn ourselves or are we saved, either by our wits and sacrifice or by some Sky Deity interceding at the last minute?
That is one of the touchstones that writer Jason Aaron and artist r.m. Guera seem to want to hit in their newest collaboration for Image Comics, The Goddamned #1. Focusing on a period of history that, according to the Book of Genesis from the Bible, is fraught with ungodliness and discord, Aaron and Guera look to the time just before the apocalyptic Great Flood that wiped out the infidels of mankind, save for Noah and his family. The protagonist of the tale is one who’ll probably be familiar to even the most casual of Bible readers, a fellar whose act of anger might have set off this wave of depravity that’s befallen humanity. (Not going to spoil the big reveal of who the character is, but the name of the book and the description above is a big tip of the bean can.)
The creative team behind Scalped might not be an obvious choice to tackle such theological yarns, but the marriage of their words and linework absolutely work in hymnal harmony to help drive home not only the literal and figurative muck that humans have wallowed in prior to the Flood, but also to bring humanity and pathos to figures that are sometimes portrayed as rote and one-dimensional. The wandering main character (another hint!) is often shown as a man fueled by anger, and Aaron does a good job of hammering that rage home. However, when considering how far his fellow humans have fallen, the protagonist seems downright remorseful, but shown with a subtlety that only Aaron could bring to the table. Aaron’s wordsmithery does a good job of delineating the coarse-speaking dwellers of the wilderness and the the main character who, for some reason, seems a bit removed from the fray. In the process, though, both he and the reader alternate between looking at mankind and thinking “Fuck ‘em, let them drown” and “They are all so lost.”
That tug at emotions wouldn’t be possible without Guera’s linework, which very much makes biblical characters and stories that sometimes feel removed and ethereal to a level that is relatable to readers. His Bible is one reminiscent of the Old West, where man is giving in to his baser urges without a law to rein in the indecency. Every page is filled with a patina of dirt, every face of the savages our main character encounters is lined with hard-living and the physical markings of sin. The whole affair has a very Mad Max-meets-The Bible atmosphere at times, and the effect is stunning eye candy.
While those familiar with Genesis may think they know the whys and wherefores of the Bible’s first Apocalypse, Aaron and Guera do a phenomenal job at filling in the gaps, making an old story new again and a demonized man a bit more human. Spread the good word, readers: The Goddamned #1 borders on heavenly.
Image Comics‘ The Goddamned #1, written by Jason Aaron with r.m. Guera on art, is in comic shops now.