REVIEW: A GOD SOMEWHERE
This is a superhero story, and it’s not. But, what is obvious is this: the story of Sam, Eric, and Hugh (and Alma) will crawl inside you for days after you read the book.
It establishes the tone effectively in the first two pages: the dark fury night, an innocent child cries with blood in her forehead, and on the last panel, a mutilated body of her mom. The caption said, among other things: “…no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter what happens to you… you’re just another character in somebody else’s story…” And then, page two: the bright sunny day, a suburb real estate, an Afro-American guy, a blond dude, and a beautiful dark skinned woman. “Damn! Look at that ass,” said the black man. “Dude, come on. That’s my brother’s wife.”
Only highly capable artist(s) can deliver this tone most effectively. The writing of John Arcudi (co-creator of The Mask) is very smart and real, the art of Peter Snejbjerg (The Light Brigade) is seamless, and the color by Bjarne Hansen is adding the nuanced narrative a proper mood. With not so many words or panels, we are introduced immediately the four main characters of this story (and of them not even in the page yet!). Meet Sam (the black man), Eric (the blond dude), Alma (the woman, obviously) and Hugh (Eric’s blond brother and Alma’s beloved husband).
The story than moves in a rather relax pace. The successful Hugh is persuaded to buy a boat with Sam and Eric. The little brotherly tension and buddy bonding later on, a hint of typical mid-life crisis, the usual life of the usual American. Until, that is, the explosion late that night.
Eric’s apartment blown by something unexplained. But Eric is safe. In fact, he is changed. His eyes hint something, as if he is mesmerized by something wonderful. And then we know: Eric has superpower. He can fly. He has super strength. He seems invulnerable. He is super. But is he a hero?
At first, yes. But those eyes grow something else. Eric believes that he was touched by miracle, and so his religiosity grows. He compares himself with Jesus. He obsessed with the betterment of the world. In particular, he wants to fix Hugh and Alma lives.
But religiosity always deals with darkness, and not many people who experienced religiosity so intense could survive this darkness intact. I think, that is one premise of this story. Eric’s “miracle” leads him to a certain kind of religiosity, an intense one, but soon it wasn’t satisfying for him anymore. What if he is not only God’s message? What if he is actually a God somewhere in the universe?
And what if God –Eric’s type of God– walk among human? For one thing, this story suggest, human loose their values in his eyes. He could do anything. Anything. Which means that no (human) morality could be applied to him. And so, the carnage begins.
Eric’s story and the devastating effect of his changes to his loved one are seen through the eyes of Sam. With Sam, we ask “Why? Why? Why?”
While this device of “seeing superhero from the ordinary human point of view” was often used before, particularly since the success of Marvels (Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross), this “angle” is used very effectively by Arcudi-Snejbejrg-Hansen for their purpose. The very graphic depiction of violence is effective also for their purpose, not just for the shock value (but please note: it is often shocking!).
And the purpose is this: to tell a very humane story, about a very humane question. And the question is this: what is our value? What is life’s value? It only wants to ask. It isn’t intended to give answer. But this comic does remind us that sometimes we need to ask that. ***