Review: A God Somewhere by John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg

A God Somewhere

Written by John Arcudi
Art by Peter Snejbjerg
Colors by Bjarne Hansen
Letters by Wes Abbot

$24.99 / 200 Pages / Color / Paperback

Suggested for Mature Readers

Wildstorm

 

I thought it might be a good idea to talk about the Lord.

I believe it was a wheelchair-bound Theodore Roosevelt who said at the height of the American Civil War, that "Absolute power corrupts." To which Truman Capote added, "Absolutely." Because he was an administrative underling and a toadie. In the decades since, Haters have wagged this maxim at Superman, insisting that anyone possessed of godlike powers wouldn't be so goody-goody; they'd probably be sitting on a throne of skulls all day deciding what television shows got to be renewed or cancelled. Kryptonian advocates like me point out that it's all down to Superman's upbringing, that Ma and Pa Kent were such good and righteous people that they could never have raised a callous dictator, regardless of his potentially world-breaking abilities. As iconic as Superman is, comic creators have long speculated on alternative visions. What if he had turned out to be a bad apple? What if he abused those powers? The prime example is Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan, a supreme being so powerful that he even questions his own ability to maintain control. Lately, we've seen Mark Waid's take on the boy scout gone bad in Irredeemable, in which a  Superman analog called the Plutonian takes a maddened turn and hunts down former friends, members of his world's Justice League. 

But what about a scenario that could play out in our own world, an environment where there are no pre-established superheros criss-crossing the skyline? What if one man became a godlike being possessed of flight, extreme strength and invulnerability following some freak accident? He'd be without peer, a media sensation. With all that power, he'd have some choices to make.

John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg offer their own take on the dangers of absolute power in a new OGN called A God Somewhere. The focus here is on the immediate impact of one man becoming a superhero. The media circus. The mystique of celebrity. But more importantly, the way it affects a man's relationship with his friends and family. Mellow and easy-going Eric Forster miraculously survives a explosion in his apartment complex. He's our supreme being. But if this is a story about him, it isn't exactly his story. Our actual protagonist is Sam, Eric's best friend. Sam's a decent guy, but he's a little directionless. He's been devoted to Eric since they were kids, when the two Forster brothers came to his aid during a schoolyard fight. Sam was the only black kid in their school, and though he maintained a pretty low profile, some racist bullies sought him out and ganged up. Race actually plays something of a large role throughout the book, with Sam taking heat from other black friends and co-workers about his friendship to two blonde surfer dudes like Eric and Hugh. The broader theme though is brotherhood and the complexities of friendship. When Eric gains his powers, Sam earns his own kind of notoriety, if only because Eric isn't interested in talking to reporters, leaving his friend alone to face the microphones. And when Eric suggests that his abilities are due to divine intervention and that he really has become godlike in a literal sense, the not-so-devout Sam isn't sure how to respond.

 

Arcudi doesn't shy away from the omnipresent similarities between fictional supermen and the Biblical Christ. In fact, he fully embraces the allegory and offers up a church-going Christian in the role. Eric Forster isn't exactly a Bible thumper, but he's definitely a god-fearing man before the accident. And that plays a major part in how he deals with this change. It also affects how he looks at humanity as a whole. I'll just say he doesn't stay mellow and easy-going for very long, and that the "suggested for mature readers" tag on the back cover is very much earned. There again is that question of nature versus nurture. But that's just part of the story. Because even if you're Superman, you're still not the only character in the story. This story has its Lois Lane and its Jimmy Olson. It's just as much their story as it is Eric's, if not more so. This choice of shifting the perspective to Sam is what reallys sets A God Somewhere apart. I also have to credit Arcudi for choosing not to supply easy answers. Eric's motivations are often ambiguous, and even Sam often acts selfishly. There's a lot of savagery in here, and a lot of simple disregard for the happiness of others. Casual acts. There's an entirely apt quote from Mike Mignola on the cover. "The most human take on the superhero story I have ever seen." That rings very true to me.

As for the visuals from Peter Snejbjerg, it's 5 stars all the way. Leagues beyond his work in The Mighty, and certainly on par with the beautiful Light Brigade. It's those eyes. Beyond his mastery of shadow and narrative, he renders these incredibly expressive faces with such bold, wild eyes. Not so feral and manic as Richard Corben, but there's so much life in these characters. The book is also followed with jaw-slackening images of wanton destruction. They pull no punches, and that's crucial for the gravity of a story about absolute power, religious zeal, and friendships torn apart. It just feels big.

This one'll put the fear of god in ya, that's for sure. 

Pick up A God Somewhere on Amazon.

 

Story: 4 Stars   Art: 5 Stars   Overall: 4.5 Stars

 


Paul Montgomery says REPENT! The end of this article is nie! Find him on Twitter or contact him at paul@ifanboy.com. 

Comments

  1. This sounds like fun (and I loved The Mighty).  Added to my WANT! list.

  2. When did this come out?  I don’t remember hearing or reading a thing about it…

  3. @Neb: Yesterday.

  4. This looks really fun…glad you reviewed it. I added the book on amazon. Can’t wait to check it out. 

  5. I also added it to Amazon. Had no idea this even existed, but now I do! Sounds like a good story.

  6. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Honestly, I hadn’t heard about the book either until last week. But then I saw the creative team and pull quotes from Denny O’Neil, Mike Mignola, and Jock. DC’s best kept secret and it really shouldn’t be. This is a really cool book. 

  7. Had it on my DCB order. got to wait a freeking month

  8. looks fantastic.

  9. Mr Montgomery, in the past week you have not only earned your nerd cred, you have OWNED it! The official opening sentence is the best bait I have ever seen.

  10. Can’t wait to read this book. Will be picking it up soon.

  11. Ifanboy basically introdcued me to John Arcudi. Team that name up with one of my all time favorite artists in Peter Snejbjerg and it’s hard not to pass this up. These OGN’s seem to be springing up all over the place and the more I hear about them, the more I want to give them a try. I think starting here would definitely be a bang for my buck.

  12. Wow. Paul, as someone who buys more than 100 new single issues monthly and another 10-15 collected editions, not much gets past me. But this OGN COMPLETELY flew under my radar. And it sounds right up my alley. Thanks for calling this to our attention, I’m ordering it today.

     

  13. I just finished reading this tome and was mighty impressed.  It had me gripped throughout and, while I think it’s a spin on a story we’ve seen before, it somehow manages to feel original.  And brutal, probably the most brutal story I’ve read in a long, long time.  More than that though, I’d have to agree that all the characters in the book are incredibly human.  THey don’t have jazzed up lives or careers, they’re just everymen (and women).  Well recommended.

  14. This just showed up in my library’s catalog and I slapped a request on that bad boy right away. Thanks for the heads up on this. Looks amazing.

  15. Since you posted it on twitter today; yes, this is the most ciminally overlooked comic of the year.

    Denny O’Neil’s quote on the back cover is apt; This is the first true superhero tragedy.