I’m talking about comics from last month – last month. I can practically taste the topicality. It won’t be long now; I’ll be writing notes on comics I bought only a few days after they were actually in the shops, and a few days after everyone else who talks about comics has talked about them. I’ll feel so current, I’ll have electricity shooting out of my fingers …
This comic book is a good comic book because it has two strengths that shine through. One is the beautiful art of Dustin Weaver: a clean line, strong storytelling, nice design, a slightly different style for each of the different time periods to depict them separately, and representations of the historical figures that identify them as such – it’s an impressive feat and one he accomplishes well. The only problem I had was his drawing of Newton, naked to the waist as he acquired ancient secrets, as a toned and athletic man, something I find hard to believe and more a symptom of mainstream superhero comics. The other strength is the writing of Jonathan Hickman: you can tell there is a big story occurring in the pages but also the big story behind it all that will be revealed, and each issue is entertaining (something that can’t always be said of his Fantastic Four run). He weaves together various aspects of history into the book, although he does play loose with the time line to suit his narrative: Galileo lived from 1564 to 1642, so he would have been 18 in 1582 when he repelled Galactus (a beautifully rendered splash page by Weaver), rather than the older character drawn in the book, and died before Isaac Newton, the narrator of this issue, was born (1643 to 1727); similarly, Newton is shown visiting the Deviant City as an adult in 1625, some 20 years before he was born; also, Nostradamus lived (historically, rather than in this book) between 1503 and 1566, making his meeting with Newton in 1652 a quite impressive achievement. However, I’m not complaining about the complex tapestry Hickman is weaving, just making a point (and he makes up for it in the postscript by having the creation of the Gregorian calendar, and the loss of 10 days, to be a cover up for the Galactus event); the only problem I have is that it would seem that Newton is now the villainous patriarch of the SHIELD, which is bloody typical of a Yank to make a Brit the bad guy.
Even though the wait between issues has been sluggish to say the least, I’m still enjoying Supergod. The warped version of what would happen to the world if superpowered humans were created, filtered through the mind of Warren Ellis, is enjoyable (in a depressing way, obviously). The story is told from the point of view of a British scientist called Reddin, telling it to someone called Tommy over the phone (how are the phones working?) in a dry scientific fashion with flashes of humour, as he stands in a devastated London, although he seems unaffected. He tells of the Russian superhuman, Perun, fighting the Indian superhuman, Krishna; of Krishna seeing off the threat of Malak, who has been ‘disassociating atomic bonds in proximate space’, by aiming Malak at the moon and blowing a hole through it (which causes destruction to rain down on the Earth). Garrie Gastonny does a good job of drawing all this madness, keeping the theatrics and grim reality on an even keel, as Ellis has his narrator throw out some lovely phrases (the moon ‘didn’t have a chance, once an Indian God had decided to throw an Iranian Devil at it’). This isn’t a story that is going to end well (the other two Avatar mini-series that make up this thematic trilogy, Black Summer and No Hero, weren’t cheery endings either), but I want to read the final issue and see how it finishes nonetheless.