"The Goddamned" #1 kicks off with a bloody introductory chapter as Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera adapt the Christian Bible flood myth, where hardened men rely on either zealotry or brutality to survive. Together, the team that brought fans "Scalped" walks readers through their concept, showing readers what to expect in coming installments while displaying the artist's strengths with up-close and intense imagery. This debut is fast-paced and full of savage action.
"The Goddamned" gives readers a glimpse into a very different interpretation of this myth. This is a time before the first flood, characterized in Genesis as "filled with violence," and the creative team abides by that description. Wanton cruelty and reckless abandon litter a desolate and vast terrain filled with strange monsters and evil men. The story of the flood -- an early and recurring apocalypse tale across many mythologies -- was a cleansing act, an attempt to retcon humanity, and Aaron gives fans every reason to want to see that happen. It's a punishingly dark tale, Biblical noir mixed with post-apocalyptic overtones. The title of the story, "The Goddamned," can be taken fairly literally.
The story feels more accurate than most sword-and-sandals adaptations, like the creative team is showing that scientific evidence and Biblical myth can coexist. Aaron steps back for much of the issue as Guera cuts loose on some nasty fights. Guera fills the oversized issue with the darker elements of humanity, zooming in close to show the intensity of the action. His detailed interpretive work is right at home with the subject matter and environment of the book. When he does go big, Guera delivers spectacular images that would be at home if airbrushed on the side of a van or tattooed on the back of a hard-drinking bounty hunter. The final pages of the book open up in scope, allowing some amazing double page spreads that reinforce the tone and stakes of the tale. Suffice to say, the final image is not quite the most familiar version of the character, but he has the type of arrival that just cannot mean good things for anyone involved. Giulia Brusco adds to the tone, washing everything in bleak, hazy colors that make the pages feel hot and uncomfortable, like there's no escape from the harsh surroundings the book depicts.
"The Goddamned" is gripping, gritty and bleak. The first issue lays out exactly what readers can expect from this series; much like "Scalped," there are hard men making hard choices in a world that isn't interested in their well being. The creators have put together a nasty piece of work that owns what it is and is unafraid to explore the darker corners of this flood myth.