By Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie, and John J. Hill
There almost isn’t enough room out there for another new series, not to mention the consumer’s budget for one. And for all of the new ideas and concepts flying around, some of them may sound too familiar at first. Honestly, that just might be the case with you when you first hear about God Country, but you’d be making a mistake passing this one up because of a seemingly well-known mythology-based premise. Gods interacting with humans, cultural clashes and disconnects, magical weapons, and supernatural solutions to Earthly dilemmas — all tropes you’ve read before in the pages of comics decades old, but also as recent as today. All of that aside, as of issue #2 God Country takes another step toward originality by relying on strong character design and dialogue that will make you believe. What may seem like a well-known theme turns out to be a tried and true method of storytelling. Readers will not only find themselves willing to invest in this new series from Image Comics, but realize that they can trust these creators to craft a genuine story without any gimmicks. From beautifully rendered illustrations to a reliably authentic storyline, God Country proves to be nothing short of the real deal.
Writer Donny Cates delivers a thoughtful story about a family from West Texas coping with a grandfather afflicted by Alzheimer’s. It isn’t long before things take a spectacular twist and we discover there’s more to the plot than just a family drama. A magnificent sword with a mind of its own shakes things up in way that will define this series. Again, if it sounds familiar then take a closer look or you’ll miss out on Cates’ charming ability to create nuance and subtly in developing a world to take stock in. It’s relatable, but fantastic; familiar, yet new; and as relatable as the human factor may be, Cates and company never fail to elevate our interest, as the stakes grow higher with consequences more severe. This isn’t just a story about a guy stumbling onto some magic artifact that changes his life. No, this is a story about the precious nature of memories no matter how dark they may be. It’s one thing to know yourself, but it is an entirely different thing to finally remember yourself and your own personal collection of experiences.
God Country’s artwork is beyond beautiful with several noteworthy moments and design elements. Artist Geoff Shaw draws with a gritty and stark style, that provides a sharp contrast. Much like the story itself — which juxtaposes the open plains of West Texas with mythological gods — that contrast provides readers with a context that does the book justice. Shaw’s approach allows scenes a sense of presence and magnitude, which is saying something for a story that takes place in a mostly bleak landscape. With dynamic angles and arrangements, Shaw demonstrates what it means to maintain a level of interest no matter what the subject may be. In an almost effortless manner, Geoff Shaw creates image after image that not only tells the story, but also continues to build on it along the same lines as the writing. It’s an abnormal situation within a normal atmosphere, and it’s crucial to strike the balance between them without letting either take over.
Jason Wordie’s colors only add to the overall sense of magic by giving any realism an intentional dose of exaggeration. Colors are saturated and bold, though you’ll never lose track of where you are in the moment. Wordie’s painterly effects blend perfectly with Shaw’s deep, black shadows and ink spatter to the point where you’d think it was done soup to nuts by one person. As good as this book is between writing and illustrations you get the sense that the best is yet to come. Issue #2 capitalizes on the results of the first issue and that sense of momentum doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon.
God Country is a genre-twisting story that defines what it means to refresh an old, yet beloved brand of comic book. Maybe you’ve heard stories similar to this one before, but the fact is, you’ve yet to hear this exact one. Not only does God Country feel new to the point of total originality, but it’s also executed with beauty and style to spare.