It’s the rare occasion that I read a comic and my head hurts afterward. I’m pretty sure that’s because my mind was blown, but somehow my skull kept the mindbits in place. Either that, or there was simply a whole lot of information for me to try to process with this being my first endeavor into “Godland.” The inside cover declares, “If you really need these ‘story so far’ recaps at this point, you haven’t been paying attention. Just start reading and enjoy the ride!”
My first go on reading this book was slow and deliberate, trying to match characters and identify relationships. I didn’t plot things out on an org chart or anything, but I tried to figure out who everybody was and what their interactions were designed to be. After that first read, I decided to admit that selecting an issue nearly three years into a run and trying to figure it out was fruitless, like grabbing a random issue of Grant Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” and trying to justify that against the Drake/Premiani run. In the end, the best route for me to take was to just re-read the issue.
That second reading, liberated from concern and cause, gave me a better appreciation for the homage this comic truly is. Joe Casey and Tom Scioli are publishing a tribute to Jack Kirby and Steve Englehart, without mimicking the greatness set forth by those creators. At the same time, this book doesn’t slavishly plod forward solely as tribute, but it offers a story that is odd, fun, and amazing. Scioli’s art is so Kirbyriffic that neophytes to the world of comics might easily mistake this work of some of Kirby’s, albeit less refined than his, and significantly more playful.
Like those comics of old — those books Casey and folks of my generation grew up with that this is a tip of the hat to — “Godland” is pulsating with cosmic energy that strains to pop from the page. There’s a large scope of setting as the Earth is threatened by a dying sun, with a floating cosmic Viking limp before a machine that dwarfs the Earth itself, but the characters are breathing, thinking, and living. The exchange between Tormentor and Friedrich Nickelhead, including the discussion of Nickelhead’s earphones, is at once comical and stunning. It seems to strive to reimagine the historic villain team-ups of yore while reminding itself that this is, indeed, a comic and it should be fun and entertaining. This is the way comics should be done, remembering what paved the way and paying homage to that, but forging ahead, having fun the whole way along.
This may have been my first foray into “Godland,” but it most certainly will not be my last. Casey and Scioli are having fun creating this book and it shows.