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God is Dead Volume 1 Review

by King on August 18, 2014

God is Dead Chapter One ImageTypically I review subject matter because it has impacted me in such a way, I feel compelled to write a review about it to expand upon my thoughts, as well as to give reason enough to someone to want to experience it for themselves; which is the case for my writing this review regarding “God is Dead,” by Jonathan Hickman. Now, before I formally start this off, let’s go ahead and clear the air: I love Jonathan Hickman, and I love his works. Avengers, New Avengers, Manhattan Projects, and East of West are probably the most prolific examples I’d use to recommend someone to read Hickman’s works, and I have nothing but respect for him as an author -- and that’s why it was SO MUCH MORE disappointing to read “God is Dead.”
           
            At first glance, a title such as this draws you in with its blatantly offensive name – that’s how I was pulled in – pure curiosity. Then, upon reading the synopsis of the premise, I thought that I was in love:
 
“Mankind has argued over the existence of gods since the dawn of time. In modern eras it's been fashionable to mock religious believers with taunts of scientific testimony and fact. But when the gods of old begin to reappear on earth and claim the domain of man for their own, the world is thrown into a state of utter anarchy. Now Horus walks the streets of Egypt, Zeus has taken over the Sistine Chapel, and Odin is coordinating the dissection of the earth among the returned deities. Mankind held sway over the world for thousands of years and their hubris over that time has made them powerful, but when faced with the divine, can mortal weapons put an end to the second coming of the gods? After the missiles fly and the tanks roll, the gods still remain. As the world tumbles toward apocalypse, a group of scientists seek to do the impossible ...give birth to the gods of science. As the greedy deities battle for absolute rule over the material world, a new divinity arises and the world will tremble beneath the war of the gods!”
 
Holy crap. My first thoughts after that premise were, “this could be epic.” Then I recognized the author was Hickman, resulting in the subsequent though, “this will be epic.” I immediately ran to my library, secured a copy, and hammered down.
 
            Let me also derail a bit to delve a little more into my past here – I LOVE mythology. I would cycle through books as a child, learning the feats of deities and demigods alike; whether the Norse Æsir, Greek Olympians, any of the plethora of Shinto kami, or otherwise -- gods and mythology were my joint. Jonathan Hickman’s current handling of the Avengers and New Avengers series also entailed the level of authorship of someone who could handle grand mythologies, even when having to intersect and amalgamate multiple mythos and continuities. So, yeah, the hype was ON. And then I opened the first page – now, one notable trademark of Jonathan Hickman works (outside of Marvel, at least) is that they typically feature minimalist cover art, which is nice because it isn’t too misleading, but also tragic in the case that it doesn’t do too much to convey potential themes, topics, or interior art for the work. That was the case especially with “God is Dead,” as, upon opening to that first page, I was somewhat stunned by the art, for worse. Very stiff, bland, and nonconventional designs (that are never really explained nor justified) characterized the handling of the characters, whether god or mortal. The work also fell short overall in allowing you to vest any true depth into any of the characters, who all seemed to be barely developed or not carried out past the point of concept. Then there were the god designs. While not wholly awful, they followed (mostly) a large, blocky build, and all seemed far too similar (especially Zeus and Odin). Continuing on with the gods, NONE of them felt truly powerful. Fight scenes were handled very poorly, their powers and mythological natures seemed severely underwhelming, and they were all template as being arrogant and cocky; one could argue that last point, but honestly, not ALL gods were complete dicks. On another note, the Thor, Loki, and Odin designs felt as if they borrowed too much from their Marvel counterparts – but that’s understandable from Hickman’s end, and might just be my own imagination.


           
            I will conclude this by admitting that I’ve only read the first six chapters, but also say that they did nothing to impress me or make me look forward to reading the next collection of chapters – a task I will elect to take on because I am masochist, and cannot stand to not finish reading a work to comprehend it in full. All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this read, and it is by far the weakest of Hickman’s works that I’ve ever read, and/or hopefully plan on reading. I’m not writing this to dismiss Hickman as an author – he is still one of my favorites, and I even have the first TPB of East of West chilling on my bookshelf – I’m just saying that I wish for as talented of a writer as he is, he developed and executed the story with greater care and precision, as I’m used to in his other works. Regardless of the art used in a graphic novel, when I read a work I’m there for the story first, and the graphics second. If both fall short then… well, put it down gently and, move on to the next one.
 
Story:                          1/5
Art:                              2/5
Re-Readability:          0/5
Novelty:                      3/5

Total:                          1.5/5

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