God in The Invisibles
Comic creator Grant Morrison is equal parts insane and genius. I guess you could just call him an insane genius. He takes psychedelic drugs for inspiration, practices magic and speaks to the dead. You can pick up any Grant Morrison book and be guaranteed at least five moments where your mind is blown. But he reached new heights of the bizarre and surreal with his book about a secret society fighting other secret societies called The Invisibles.
Egomaniac? Maybe. Insane? Probably. Talented? Definitely. Honest? Unabashedly.
There really is a LOT more to The Invisibles than that, but I was afraid I might lose you if I talked about the alien Gods and time travel and the enslavement of the human race without their knowledge. Some of that stuff can turn people away. Me, I just embrace it. This book manages to change your perception of what comic book writing can be, and just how deep and surreal some of these stories can get.
This is another one of those books where I am willingly going to avoid telling you anything that may ruin the book for you in case you decide you want to give it a read. I will tell you this, though, in the book, John Lennon is God.
You know, the psychedelic, floating, talking-head type of God?
And the most amazing part in all of this is that it mirrors a surreal moment when Grant Morrison sat in the center of a circle of Beatles records and claims that he contacted the spirit of John Lennon, who then “gave” him a new Lennon song from the afterlife. A song which Morrison plays live, if you catch him at just the right time. Well, you think I would deny you guys this? Nope.
Safe to say no one saw THAT coming.
It is great when you can look back on a paragraph and realize “God as John Lennon” is one of the more normal sentences.
Alright, this is probably the most literal version of God on the whole list. Savage Dragon is an openly silly comic book, but much like a cheesy action film or a really enjoyable B movie performance, there is something undeniably likable about it, and it sure as hell is not the Erik Larsen art.
There is so much cheese on this page, I scooped it up with a nacho.
There really was a time in the nineties that Image comics LOVED sending their stars to hell. No joke, it was an actual “thing” they did. And the end result was usually just like the Spawn story turned out, all convoluted and confusing and collapsing in on itself. But this version was far more tongue in cheek then those other Image comic moments, and that made this more enjoyable.
This is a giant, long haired God in a white robe and a flowing beard fighting a red, hairy Satan, while a man, who is part dragon, and part of THAT dragon is SAVAGE, stands by and watches. Heck, he even makes some Spiderman-esque quips between rounds. kooky stuff, you could say.
Wow, how delightfully understated.
It is a massive dose of the surreal, and a wonderful satire on the idea of good versus evil epitomized. And don’t forget, this was long before Savage Dragon got all pseudo-political and featured Obama on the cover. A move many would deem jumping the shark, had it not been done by a bunch of OTHER comic books as well.
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac
And we have to end with my personal favorite interpretation of God, as imagined by the wonderfully twisted mind of Jhonen Vasquez for his epic comic book: Johnny The Homicidal Maniac.
Johnny is one of the most enjoyably twisted characters ever created.
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac reads exactly as you figured it would, based on the title. Johnny is crazy, and hears voices, and kills people. But you realize over time, he has his reasons for doing what he does, and though he comes to learn it is wrong, there are times when you will see him do something that is utterly incomprehensible, and you kind of understand why he did it.
Over time, it is revealed JTHM is far deeper than one would have initially expected, but again, in refusing to spoil the book, I will tell you (slight spoiler) that Johnny does go to Heaven at one point, and meets up with God. And my, what a God he is!
Note that the chair is a Laz-E-God chair. FTW.
So in this tale, God is more than a little bit lethargic, it seems. Apparently, creating the universe in a weeks time can take a lot out of a guy, and as a result, this God has done, literally, nothing, since then. He sort of feels like he did his “big thing” and can just kind of rest on his laurels (and his ass) now.
What makes this particular interpretation of God so wildly original is that he is the opposite of how we have been taught to imagine him, yet, to some nihilists, this type of God would make sense. Like Pacino says in the Devil’s Advocate : an absentee landlord. A voyeur, and nothing more.
It was a brave and bold direction to go, and the end result is a genuine laugh, especially when read in the context of the entire book.
One of the greatest things about well written comic books is that they do not fear to tread where most would. Whether it is sex, religion, or death, nothing is too taboo for a comic book. And for a medium that started off aimed solely at children, that is a huge distance to have come. From a fat God to a dead pop star AS God, in comic books, nothing is sacred. And frankly, that’s the way we like it.
Legally, we are not allowed to discuss this book, which is why it did not make the list.