What do you get when two men get together to resurrect Jack Kirby and the lost comic art of the cosmic epic?
You get Gødland. More after the cut.
We wouldn’t have comics as good as we have them today if it weren’t for folks like Jack Kirby, Joe Simon or Steve Ditko. Absolute pioneers in the comic medium, they brought to life characters we still love today, ideas we still hold dear and stories that still continue to delight and inspire readers of all generations. However, despite being a heavy influence on many storytellers of today, there are very few who actively try and channel the moods, effortless imagination and general asthetic of classic tales, like that of the Fourth World, Space Adventures or the Eternals.
After all, the world of the space epic is one that seems to almost defy imagination. When we take ourselves from what we know and understand on the pale blue dot, we push ourselves into the unknown. As much as science and cynicism dictate otherwise over blatant speculation, there is an infinite cosmos of wonder and beauty out above our atmosphere (and if you don’t believe me, check out the opening to Tree of Life, which features a good 10-15 minutes of cosmic visuals). These galaxies and stars are full of the unknown hiding in every nook and cranny, and it was visionaries like the aforementioned creators who took it upon themselves to translate the seemingly untranslatable into a way that was consumable for us.
Since then and the loss of these works, we haven’t seen too much that truly encapsulated the ideas and brand new mythology introduced by these creators (outside of select Grant Morrison books here or there). The current age of comics, however you define it, seems to put more emphasis on pushing the old in slightly new places as long as its entertaining enough. New company-owned ideas can often die out quickly due to low sales from fans buying books that “matter”, and some creator-owned books simply never get the chance to flourish, despite some having the seeds of creativity that once made comics a staple hobby/form of entertainment. Not to sound overly bitter or even skeptical, but the most popular of comics — even the ones that I enjoy and buy on a monthly basis — spend more time trying to catch up with the modern world and what they assume readers want as opposed to truly playing off what came before, and what very clearly worked (again — if folks like Lee, Kirby, Kane, Siegel, Shuster, Ditko, Simon, Eisner and more hadn’t done what they did, we wouldn’t have comics as we know them today).
Cue Joe Casey and Tom Scioli, heeding the call for battle and taking up arms in order to bring Gødland to life. Telling the story of Adam Archer and his family, Archer is but a simple astronaut who, on a failed mission to Mars, finds himself embued with cosmic knowledge and power. Taking up duties as a cosmic defender for Earth, Archer finds himself wrapped up in a giant space opera as Earth becomes the central target for several cosmic forces all looking to capitalize on the planet’s capabilities now that a member of the planet has entered into the realm of universal conscious. Fueled by his limited training and blessing from the space god of all creation Iboga, Archer and a giant alien dog creature named Maxim are the first line of defense for Earth against giant elemental space beings, hails of evil cosmic pixies, religious nuts in flying pyramids and your general line of super villains out for mayhem and destruction.
What Gødland ultimately thrives with is it is an unrelenting example of creative exploration within the realm of serialized sequential storytelling. Using modern storytelling techniques made popular at Image with books like Invincible and written using the Mighty Marvel Method, Casey and Scioli fill a void in comics that has been unoccupied for far too long. While the focus is on Adam Archer, the book still floats about various inhabitants of the planet Earth and the realm of the cosmic to tell an intertwined story of rather epic proportions, spanning from the known universe and into various dimensions, both of space, time and thought. The book is both classic and modern at the same time, visually paying grand tribute on behalf of Scioli to the King and playing off Casey’s modern-pop mindset in the dialogue modeled after the more fun and energetic dialogue of the 60’s or 70’s. Just as Kirby brought us to the New Gods in a more optimistic era, Casey and Scioli take our cynical media-obsessed generation and brings us back in a way few others do.Continued below
You see, Gødland is, in a sentence, the comic you would probably expect to see Jack Kirby making today if he were still alive. This is old wine served in a new skin in a form and fashion that doesn’t cheapen the taste. That’s what makes it such a wonderful comic to dive into, and repeatedly at that; it’s like an unearthed time capsule, despite coming into existence a few years ago. The book oozes Golden Age sensibilities from every pore in the best of ways. Casey has certainly worked with artists with emulative artistic stylesbefore such as Andy Suriano and Nick Dragotta, and Tom Scioli is among one of the most visually emotive of the bunch. From the towering Iboga to even smaller characters like Crashman, Scioli has created a Kirby tribute here that honors his body of work even more than a project like Kirby: Genesis does, and it does so without feeling forced or heavy handed; it simply is.
As much as any comic published today could capture a time period of imagination, Gødland does so in spades, with bells and whistles and Kirby dots at every corner, and you have Scioli and Casey to thank for that.
You can find five Gødland trades out now, with the final issues hopefully coming out soon as well. However, if you’re looking for a last minute gift to yourself or a fellow Kirby-fanatic on your list looking for something new, Gødland is certainly a good place to start.