This is a new feature we’ll be doing here at Unreality, as we’re always trying to think of new ways to improve and expand the site. A lot of the movies and video games we cover or review or just rant about often have their origins in comic books, and it seems to me like a good chunk of our readers are into comics. I used to be an avid collector when I was in middle school and even for a while in high school, but I still go to the comic book store about once enough just to pick up whatever seems interesting. Anyway, I figured I could – amongst other things – start reviewing and writing about different comic books or graphic novels that come out. I guess we’ll see where it goes.
I just finished a new graphic novel called “A God Somewhere,” written by John Arcudi. Keep reading for my review.
“A God Somewhere” isn’t really a story involving a superhero; it’s a story involving a superhuman. It doesn’t involve costumes or supervillains or mad scientists, nor is it a deconstruction of the superhero, either. What sets “A God Somewhere” apart from many other stories, though, is that the main character isn’t the superhuman, it’s the superhuman’s best friend. As written on the first page of the graphic novel, no matter who you are or what you do, “you’re just another character in somebody else’s story.” I found that to be pretty poignant, as it’s something I’ve definitely thought about in the past – at the end of the day, no matter who you are or what your impact on the world is, you will always be secondary (at best) to those observing you. Maybe you’ll be forgotten, maybe you’ll be a footnote, or maybe you’ll be an obsession – but regardless, you’re only your own protagonist.
More specifically, “A God Somewhere” is the story of Sam, a single dude in a dead end, low paying job whose best friend Eric happens to be caught in a mysterious explosion one night. We’re never told just what caused the explosion, nor are we told why Eric not only survived, but became something of a god, too. Eric is seemingly impervious to pain, his skin is impenetrable, he has seemingly limitless strength, and he’s gained the ability to fly. Instead of donning a costume and fighting crime, however, Eric’s new sense of power detaches him from the rest of humanity a la Dr. Manhattan. Eric’s story is told mostly through Sam’s eyes, reminding us that as phenomenal and literally historic as Eric is, he’s still a mere character in Sam’s life. Also present throughout most of the story are Eric’s younger brother, Hugh, and Hugh’s wife, Alma. Eric is friendly with Hugh and has pined for Alma since the day he laid eyes on her.
Where “A God Somewhere” differs from, say, Unbreakable, is the presence of religious themes. Eric isn’t a full-blown Jesus freak, but he’s very into God and Jesus – certainly much more than Sam is. We wears a cross,attends church regularly, wears “WWJD” shirts, and even has the Jesus fish on the back of his car. Once he acquires his new powers, however, he begins to view himself as a god (which isn’t really so unreasonable, considering what he’s capable of doing) and becomes more and more emotionally detached from the rest of his species. Sam, Hugh, and Alma can only watch in horror as Eric eventually becomes something new, terrifying, and unstoppable. How this impacts Sam’s life is really the point of “A God Somewhere,” and it’s a story worth reading.
The artwork by Peter Snejbjerg isn’t anything special, but it’s adequate and does a pretty good job of supplementing the story. Besides, this graphic novel obviously put its story and themes first, and getting an artist like Todd McFarlane would actually detract from the story, not compliment it. (As an aside, and since this is my first time writing about comics on this site, I maintain that McFarlane and Jim Lee are the best comic book artists in the world. Liefeld and his imitators are the worst). I did that that the dialogue could have been improved, as everyone pretty much speaks in the same indistinguishable manner. Writing dialogue so as to give each character a unique way of speaking could have gone a long way, but the dialogue itself was engaging and never laughable, so I can’t really complain too much.
“A God Somewhere” has some truly violent scenes where Eric literally rips through armies and obliterates anything and everything in his path. It’s at this time when the story is most intriguing, as Sam has to wrestle with his feelings toward Eric as his friend in need all while acknowledging that he’s a threat to everyone on the planet. Sam’s life changes significantly after Eric’s ordeal, as do the lives of Hugh and Alma. There is a very strong human element in Arcudi’s story, and it’s nice to see that he spends a lot of time examining that instead of wasting page after page of showing us how powerful Eric is.
I would definitely recommend this graphic novel to anyone who likes unique takes on superheroes and superpowers. Keep in mind that this graphic novel took me just one night to get through, so the price of $24.99 may be a bit steep. Still, I may read it again someday, so I guess the price isn’t too bad in the long run.
Finally, I know the name of this column – The Unreality Comic Bin – is pretty generic and crappy, but I’m an attorney, not a marketing genius. If you’ve got any better ideas, please let me know. Best suggestion gets…well, you get to name the column.