12.02.2007

Sunday Comics! Gødland Edition!

Okay, so despite protests from the Peanut Gallery, I'm starting a new feature called Sunday Comics where I talk about - you guessed it! - comic books. On a Sunday. Because I can. Also, because nobody reads this blog over the weekend (the Analytics don't lie, yo), so, who cares, right? So we'll show a couple scans, post a couple links, get down tonight.

So today we're talking about Joe Casey and Tom Scioli's insane cosmic superhero epic: Gødland.

Gødland is the comic book Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would be writing today if they were able. And sort of on drugs. It's a garage rock cover of a Lee/Kirby FF story gone horribly wrong. It's a gaudy dayglo, over-the-top, "But this one goes to 11" honest-to-goodness comic book where the action flies by, the characterization is there but not the focus and the ideas come fast and hot and don't entirely make sense.

Basically, it's a sloppy Grant Morrison comic.

Casey's sort of like the guy you call when Morrison's too busy conversing with 10th-dimensional alien polymorphic beings in Kathmandu to return your invitation to pitch. He's the Robbers On High Street to Morrison's Spoon - Indie snob reference! - while not entirely derivative when listened-to/read in isolation, one definitely stands out as the better band/writer when placed in close proximity. (See his short-lived Doom Patrol-esque freak-out Automatic Kafka if you don't believe me) He's also a solid superhero writer, with his Iron Man mini the Inevitable and his Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes minis as decent examples of solid recent Capes & Tights fiction. They also showcase Casey's love for and handle of the Avengers, which, if Marvel had any sense - and they don't, sadly - would warrant his immediate position as writer for life of that corner of Marveldom.

Gødland is very much a comic book, from the omniscient, Stan Lee carnival-barker timbre of the narration to the internal dialogue expressed in the thought balloons (How long has it been since those were widely used? Since... oh yeah, the grim & gritty mid-80's, I'd guess). It's not so much poking fun at the conventions of comic books as it's sort of wallowing in them, taking them all out and seeing if they still work. For too long (since the double-shot of Miller's Dark Knight and Moore's Watchmen) comics have been pretty ashamed of themselves and Casey (along with contemporaries like Morrison and Matt Fraction) seems intent on reminding us of why comics exist, why they're not just movies on paper or static television shows. I mean, where else can you have your hero, Adam Archer, former astronaut and current cosmically-powered being utter dialogue like this:

The series focuses on Archer who got crazy superpowers when he went to Mars. Which makes perfect sense because this is unashamedly "that type" of comic. He lives in a swell skyscraper called Infinity Tower in the middle of Manhattan that has been adapted to facilitate his new form (not unlike the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building). In the second issue, he rescues a giant green talking dog-type thing from outer space named Maxim who teaches him how to use his newfound powers. He's like Yoda, only, you know, a giant space dog. He finds out that the universe was formed by a giant, warmongering space-god named Iboga. He has a growing feud with America's Cherished Hero: Crashman and his government does not trust him. At all. He fights villains with names like Discordia and Freidrich Nickelhead and, my personal favorite, the drug-addicted, skull floating-in-a-jar sleazeball Basil Cronus, shown here getting all messed up on Maxim's precious bodily fluids:

Try and find that sort of stuff playing in a multiplex near you. It's insane, ridiculous fun. Not as mind-bending as some work out there (it pales in comparison with say, Seaguy), but still thrilling, seat-of-your-pants stuff.

If Casey's doing a cracked Stan Lee impersonation, it's aided and abetted by Scioli's obviously-likes-the-work-of-Kirby shaky, bombastic linework. And while it's very reminiscent of the King's dynamic style, it's not entirely a rip-off. Scioli's lines seem to vibrate a lot more, seem more nervous, more self-conscious and are much more intentionally crude. It completely compliments the over-the-top nature of the plot and it's telling that Casey has yet to bring in another penciller to help keep the book on schedule, as I don't think it would be nearly as successful with another artist. (Plus, they're co-creators, so... yeah)

Right now, there are three paperback collections out: volume 1: Hello, Cosmic, volume 2: Another Sunny Delight and volume 3: Proto-Plastic Party. Or you can spring for the oversized hardcover of the first twelve issues, Gødland: the Celestial Edition. Or you can kick it old school and pick up the pamphlets, published by Image Comics (whose website is atrocious to navigate, by the way).

Whew! That was a lot more intense than I expected. That's all for today. I'm gonna go watch some TV.

1 comment:

b3n said...

Yay, a comics post! I thoroughly enjoyed that, BRR. I don't get your references, but they sure send me on a great internet scavenger hunt while I'm tech supporting for the internets.