By Paul Jenkins, Hendry Prasetya & Jessica Kholinne
God Complex is one of the latest titles from Image/Top Cow, spun from the line of merchandise from the Glitch Network. The prism through which readers will traverse and learn about this world is the character Seneca, a detective in the metropolis known as Delphi. Seneca becomes embroiled in a murder investigation that forces him, and the audience, to face the societal divide of their world between humans and Rulers and finding his place within those lines…
The crime procedural was nice choice of framing device to allow for the comic’s exposition to flow well and feel organic. Seneca seems like a bit of the unreliable narrator, so the inner dialog that Paul Jenkins makes for a relatively interesting read. It doesn’t feel overly convoluted or intentionally confusing, but rather helps develop intrigue around the plot. If it wasn’t for Seneca, this would feel like another futuristic crime story.
Now, some will inevitably think of Ghost in the Shell when reading this, that is a crime procedural set in a heavily technology-oriented world too, but the mythology, literally and figuratively, helps to further differentiate the story. Rulers are imbued with special abilities, such as being able to commune or interact with the physical representation of “The Stream,” which is basically the net. Of course, this immediately calls to mind the oracles of ancient Greece who were believed to be a direct link to the gods. There’s also the fact rulers adopt names of classical gods and the city is Delphi, a famous Greek sanctuary for one of the most famous oracles of that time.
The blending of old and new is not a new concept, but it works for this material and Jenkins makes sure that’s not what this comic is about. He brings attention to the politics of this city/world – the class system. Sure it’s overt, but not too heavy-handed. It works well in God Complex because of the designs of the rulers. Now Hendry Prasetya didn’t create these god-like characters, but the body language he renders them in, along with their fascinatingly ornate helmets, will no doubt capture one’s attention. They’re meant to stand-out in the story and in real life. Sadly, they also pull attention away from Seneca and make him appear dull – all the mystery is around the Rulers, such as Hermes, who is on the cover.
Prasetya and colorist Jessica Kholinne make Deplhi a very detailed, lived-in setting, which becomes a double-edged sword. To be honest, the work put into the background is for more interesting and worth deeper engagement than the characters themselves and pulling focus is not the best for a narrative such as this. In an expositional issue such as this, the artwork should make that information engaging and digestible, instead readers will probably look past the characters to experience the world of God Complex. The colors used to detail the Stream and a solid choice because it’s a clear contrast to the “real world” palette Kholinne established in the preceding pages. It becomes a point of reengagement for the audience and works well in that respect. There is clear, solid artwork in this book that is absolutely worth experiencing and appreciating, but, in the overall context of the material, it actually becomes detrimental in certain moments.
There is promise in this new series. Complicated, elaborate world-building from the creative team is evident and merits, at the very least, a few issues to really allow the material to take root. Check it out!