My comic drawer must know I love a good book that touches upon conflict, because using its magic powers of giving me a random publication to read, it gave me Supergod, by amazing author Warren Ellis (who has an output that is almost always stellar) with art by the talented Garrie Gastonny.
What is that conflict?
People and how they love to fight about religion.
Seriously, we have a world with lots of religious strife, that’s no secret.
Flip through a history book, turn on the television, or if you’re really brave go on the internet and in the process of looking up anything about religion you’ll probably see disagreement.
Now imagine if people decided they wanted to build their own super-humans in an attempt to get closer to God through creating something with Godly power.
Now think back to how everyone disagrees about religion, and in this scenario we now have one country with a Supergod that doesn’t like another country’s Supergod.
Things aren’t going to be resolved peacefully, are they?
Warren Ellis is one of my favorite writers, and in this book about nations making tributes to their God/Gods he creates something that isn’t trying to be critical of religion so much as it is our near-religious obsession with super-heroes some of us geeks have.
After all, he did use the slogan, “Praying to be saved by a man who can fly will get you killed.”
No, this isn’t a sacrilegious book even if Ellis did court some controversy with one of his covers where a super-being is in front of a cross a la Christ.
Don’t expect that homage to mean we get sweet and loving creations, though.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that some of the, “heroes,” are the opposite of what people may have hoped for.
From an early space-experiment gone wrong that results in a multi-headed and wise monster, to an Indian god-like being capable of unthinkable destruction and creation we see all kinds of super-beings on display. The saddest is probably a simple American man who has been brought back from the dead but isn’t sure why he is really alive, if he even is in a true sense.
Artist Garrie Gastonny illustrates the destruction that happens when the Supergods meet up on an impressively massive scale. Seriously, a man literally is thrown through the moon and the havoc it wreaks is just beautiful.
Warren Ellis is a masterful writer and his dialogue flows in ways few can match. Just reading his writing is a pleasure so you can rest assured this book is done masterfully, especially considering it has Ellis doing what he does best, using crazy science-fiction ideas blended with other genres, in this case super-heroes.
The only thing that may grate on people’s nerves is sometimes this feels more like an illustrated essay than a comic. This is because the whole story is being told to us by a scientist who was involved in the creation of one of the Supergods and is chatting over the phone with an American we never see while the world falls apart.
Over the chapters we learn how the world came to a point of being essentially destroyed and hear our protagonist’s thoughts. It’s interesting, but it does still often read as one big pile of exposition. It’s fascinating exposition, but gobs of story being piled upon us nonetheless.
Regardless of if the text can sometimes be a bit heavy, we do still get some quality actions scenes, deep ruminations on what the nature of faith means, a few clever twists in the story, and overall have a great time.
If you don’t mind a lot of word-play to go with your pretty-pictures and have ever noticed the way super-heroes and religion aren’t that different with the whole, “almighty beings protecting and/or killing us,” theme, then this is the book for you.