Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Gødland volume 2 and 3 review

Gødland: Another Sunny Delight and Gødland: Proto-Plastic Party, the second and third volumes of the series didn’t convert met to the church of all things cosmic as I was expecting and (let’s be honest) hoping they would. While the first volume felt a bit disjointed, I still enjoyed it. Casey and Scioli did a pretty good job introducing several characters and locations. They also introduced the superhero and cosmic elements of the series which the creators combined together while also keeping them separated. The problem with volumes 2 and 3 is that the story doesn’t seem to really progress much beyond what was introduced in the first volume. Part of that problem is that what was so strongly foreshadowed in the first volume actually happens in the second volume which isn’t bad in and of itself, but I’m certain it’s a contributing factor to while I feel that book is starting to spin its wheels. The other reason I think I feel this way is that Casey and Scioli still seem to be setting up their characters and plots. Three volumes in, your comic book shouldn’t feel like it’s still setting up the story.

The problem isn’t that there aren’t any new developments. On the contrary, if you look at the individual plot points, things are moving forward at a pretty constant pace. The problem is that very few of the stories are connected together. Another Sunny Delight delivers immediately on the promises of the first volume. Adam Archer is the first cosmic being of planet Earth which makes him the herald of Earth’s cosmic awakening. The space dog, Maxim, had informed Adam that this would strike the interest of other beings in the universe. Book Seven (every issue is called a book) is an alien attack on New York and Adam goes around stopping the threat. This is a good example of how Gødland is a mixture of superhero and cosmic comics. Adam Archer is mostly a superhero and his origin story took place on Mars. The story continues with an exploration of Casey and Scioli’s cosmic mythology: Iboga the god creator. Iboga is the universe and, in turn, the universe is Iboga. It’s one of my favourite issues of the comic so far. The rest of Adam’s stories in the second and also during the third volumes consist of his reactionary defense of New York which are written as superheroic battle scene with a cosmic twist or two.

There are other plotlines going on though. While Adam is the clearly the main protagonist, there are plenty of other protagonists and more than a few antagonists to go around. The various storylines can be organized into three categories: 1) Alien threats to the planet (including Ed, Suprah and Eeg-oh’s machinations); 2) the three supervillains, Friedrich Nickelhead, the Tormentor and Basil Cronus, bickering amongst each other and trying to do . . . something, and 3) the Archer family having adventures out in space and fighting aliens while trying to keep the US military off their backs. The second and third volumes are good but I can’t help but feel a bit let down. It could all be because of my high expectations for the series (I blame you, Internet!). It’s got plenty of action and for a moment I thought the comic was picking up speed but I think Casey and Scioli are juggling more storylines than they can successfully handle at the same time. I generally love when a comic has multiple different storylines all happening at the same time but the different storylines are progressing at different speeds yet all of them remain slow except for Adam’s which is beginning to be repetitive (but it will probably just serve as preparation for his evolutionary leap into a fully fledge cosmic being).

Casey includes other things in Gødland that I simply fail to understand. There are many references to awful reality TV shows. So many that I think Casey is intentionally making references to what I would consider terrible television. I’m completely unable to tell you why though. I do not understand it’s importance to the story or to the themes being developed in the series so far. If anything it just seems to intentionally date the entire project in the later part of the last decade. That’s problematic because it took the creators roughly seven years to complete the 36 issues long series. References made in the earlier issues give a different cultural snapshot than references in later issues would give, presuming that Casey continues with his references.

Another element of my frustration is that I feel as though both of these creators could offer more. While Joe Casey’s body of work is generally hit and miss with me, I’ve read some fantastic comics written by him (Wildcats 3.0, Automatic Kafka and Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker, and Officer Downe to name some of my favourites). As for Tom Scioli, his art is inconsistent. He seems to up his game when he has something truly spectacular to illustrate. A good example of this is book eight titled “Origin of the Universe”. It’s not only one of the visual highlights of the comic so far, Casey also scripts the crap out of it.

While the pastiche in volume one was more obvious seen in the art, Casey steps up to the plate with his dialogue and narration, providing plenty of Kirby-esque writing. Some of it sounds absolutely ludicrous but it works well in conveying the tone of the series. The second volume also specified exactly what the tone will be by upping the humour factor above what was showcased in the first volume. I’m looking forward to seeing the multiples plot threads collide. I feel like this comic needs more conflict. There’s action and drama a plenty; characters regularly fence with words but it’s mostly threats and posturing. Casey and Scioli might be using Jack Kirby’s body of work and the comics of other notable creators of their youths but it’s limited to style. The contents of Gødland fail to reflect the energy and bombast of the average Kirby comic. So far Gødland is more of an interesting comic to read than a really great one but hopefully the following volumes can improve on what’s happened in the preceding volumes. 

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