Saturday, 22 March 2014

Gødland volume 4 and 5 review

Discovering Gødland has been an interesting experience. It’s been one of those series that mostly meets my expectations with the earlier stories but then progresses far differently that what I would have guessed and I end up disappointed. I had a pretty clear idea in my head as to what the story would be in the volumes following the first on but It didn’t go there. I came to Gødland with certain expectations which I build based on the cover art, the feel of some of Casey’s other comics, and the reviews and commentary I’ve read about the series on the internet. The other half of my expectations were founded on what was shown to me in the first volume and the promises of a grand cosmic epic to be told in the rest of the series. Everything seemed to linger. The story needed time to build before it ever even went where it was meant to go. I’m glad the series took it’s time to develop the plot but It shouldn’t have taken two volumes to do it.

The fourth volume Amplified Now! gave me what I’ve been waiting for since the end of first volume, the coming together of different storylines. The story in volumes 4 and 5 exploded compared to the slow crawl that had been established after the first volume. The fourth volume is essentially the turning point in the series. All of them setup is complete and Casey and Scioli simply have the stories turn and collide into one another. I truly did not expect three volumes of setup but that’s what the first 18 issues (yes, 18!) can be summarized. Though the third volume is the result of the previous stories being told, it’s not quite the second phase of the series but it does act as a bridge between the introduction or setup phase and the exploration of the cosmic collective phase. The creators announced the end of the first phase of the series with a few major events, specifically, saying goodbye to some of the more superheroic aspects of the series.

What I really enjoyed about the fourth volume was that it delivered. It took a long time for the story to get to the point where Adam fights with the Triad. Sure, he found plenty of other aliens before them but the Triad has been present in the comic for several issues before any direct conflict occurred with other characters previously established in the series. It was the same thing for other promises, like how it was strongly suggested that Neela would also become cosmically aware. It took several issues for it to happen and then it took a few issues more before we got to see her in action and to see her interact with Adam. It wasn’t enough to have alien beings with Kirby-crackle to make Gødland a great series. It can’t all be cosmic imagery, there also has to be a story and fro this kind of story, cosmic superheroics, there has to be conflict. We’ve had plenty of action but the conflict became sparse after the first volume. I wanted to see these supreme beings interacting with each other and taking part in huge adventures and changing the world and the universe. Thankfully all I had to do was stick around and wait for space aliens to cause havoc in Las Vegas.

If volume four was a step in the right direction, the first few pages of the fifth volume “Far Beyond the Bang!” clearly announced that we had arrived at our destination. It starts with Adam blasting off into space. Finally! This is literally a moment I’ve been waiting for since the very first issue and I’m completely surprised that it took so long for it to happen. The pacing and the flow of each storyline in Gødland has been very strange. I want to say that it’s the result of how Casey and Scioli are working on the book but I can’t confirm that. There are so many comics out there in which there is a strange pacing and there are plenty of artist who are very adept at controlling the pace of a story but there are also examples of writers who are very good at this (Warren Ellis is a great example, he’s a master of pacing).

Adam Archer’s arrival in space launches the series into a whole new level of action and cosmic adventures. He soon meets up with two other powerful cosmic beings: Vayikra and her son, Leviticus. They both remind of Jack Kirby’s New Gods and that’s a great fit because Gødland’s reason for being is to celebrate this kind of storytelling. Adam meets up with Vayikra and Leviticus while they are in the middle of a heated battled against N’ull Pax Mizer, a strong believer in the universal trust of eventualism. After helping them out in their fight, the mother-son duo decides to team up with Adam and join him on his search for his sister, Neela.

Neela is doing her own thing. She’s hunting down another powerful being, R@d-Ur-Rezz who goes around making mischief and causing as much confusion and chaos as possible. He lives by the code of total entropy and Neela is trying to stop him. We later find out why but I won’t spoil the good stuff for you. Meanwhile, on Earth, Friedrich Nickelhead is finally executing the plan he’s been working on since we first met him way back in the first volume. It’s equally surprising and underwhelming. Surprising, because I didn’t expect this series to go there, but underwhelming because it’s something we’ve seen several times before in superhero comics. Sure, Casey and Scioli make it their own but it still feels too familiar.

Without a doubt, Gødland: Far Beyong the Bang! propels the series into a whole new level of comics. It really makes the other volumes look boring in comparison. It’s sad to say but it’s true. I feel like he creators have been holding out on us. I can just imagine how torturous this would have been to read during it’s original, often delayed publication. Not only is it packed with story (I left out quite a bit) but the art seems to explode off the page! I love it! This is Scioli at his best (so far) and although I’m not the biggest fan of his style (it’s Kirby and it’s also not Kirby, I’m not sure how to describe it) it’s quite exciting to see him let loose on his character designs. He’s clearly having a blast drawing the hell out of the space portion of this story. I’m looking forward to the sixth and final volume of the series. I really don’t have any idea how the story will end because it feels like it all just began. Casey and Scioli quickly built up the momentum with the first volume but they let it die almost completely before really kicking it into high gear with the fourth and fifth volumes. Can it continue to improve in quality? I hope so but there’s only one way to find out. I just hope I don’t have to wait too long until the trade paperback is released.

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