It’s difficult to think about “Supergod” #5 completely on its own, divorced from the four issues that preceded it. The conclusion of the story — one long monologue delivered by Simon Reddin, a British scientist who worked on their post-human program — relies so much on following through with ideas set up previously. With all of the post-human creations loose and converging in India where Krishna has remade India, 90% of its population is killed in order to save the country, and that leads to the apocalyptic scenario we’ve seen in the background of Reddin’s communications. More than that, the point is to see how Ellis’s conception of these post-human creations plays out. What insights into their thinking are we given and what does that mean for superhero comics?
Garrie Gastonny continues his stunning art in this issue, depicting one of the more demanding and monstrous creatures, a Lovecraftian monster created as a weapon by the Chinese post-human Maitreya to attack Krishna with. It’s an absurd squid-like flying monster created out of humans. As Reddin says, “No-one could ever come up with an estimate for the number of people interpolated into the thing that didn’t make them cry or throw up,” offering a strange insight into how the Chinese post-human thinks. Like Krishna, his ‘job’ is to save his country and its people, but, to do so, he uses tactics that are outside of human thinking. Krishna ‘saves’ India from overpopulation and pollution by killing 90% of the population. Maitreya needs a weapon to fight Krishna to save the Chinese people, so he crafts it out of the people in the most horrid way possible.
If there’s one message that “Supergod” tries to get across, it’s that post-humans would not think like humans. They are alien lifeforms and act as such. The final ‘showdown’ in India with Krishna demonstrates that; The American ‘super-soldier’ Jerry Craven acts in complete opposition to how you would expect, while Dajjal, the post-human that could see time, does the unexpected and changes everything. If anything the post-humans do seems ‘out of nowhere’ or impossible to predict, that’s the point.
The most glaring problem with “Supergod” #5, and the series as a whole, it’s that it never completely comes together as a narrative. The finale serves the ideas and themes of the series, but doesn’t satisfy completely as a story. The final page is haunting, but in an intellectual manner, not an emotional one. The Reddin monologue acts more as a way for Ellis to lay out this conception of post-humans than telling a strong narrative. In a way, that helps the book have a feeling of reality, of how things could happen, because life doesn’t hold together neatly as a narrative.
“Supergod” also acts as the third book in a loose, thematic trilogy of comics about post-humanity done by Ellis for Avatar, following up on “Black Summer” and “No Hero.” It stands as the most thought-provoking and challenging of the three books, concerned with tackling an almost impossible idea: how does something not human think and act? Ellis succeeds in laying out some theories and providing a hint of where to go for future writers. “Supergod” may not work completely as a story, but as an argument, a theory for post-human stories, it’s a brilliant piece of work. This conclusion is depressing and challenging and frustrating and disturbing. It’s the sort of comic that sticks with you and changes the way you think about superhero comics.