JUST JOSHING: Ordinary Gods
I’ve always been a fan of stories of myths and gods walking among us. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods always gave me a sense of wonder. There’s something about that kind of story that always made me just imagine a bigger world, more wondrous and magical than the mundane one we sometimes feel like we’re walking in. Kyle Higgins is an excellent writer and together with Felipe Watanabe has crafted a world spanning family drama that captures that magic.
Created and Written by Kyle Higgins
Illustrated by Felipe Watanabe
Colored by Frank William
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Ordinary Gods opens with a gun fight twenty two years ago. Two Japanese gentlemen by the names of Matsuda and Mr. Taoka are trying to escape certain death from what appears to be an American assassin. It turns out very quickly that nothing is quite what it seems and that Matsuda is the assessing targeting Taoka.
We flash forward twenty two years later and Christopher is seeing a psychologist about his depression. The conversation deals with the idea of liking a comic book character that was a replacement for the real heroes. The line about what real is hits especially depressing. In between this scene and the Taoka’s death you see the meta story about 5 Gods who led by the Luminary rebelled against the one king and his 8 gods. The innovator found a solution to this rebellion by imprisoning the Luminary and the other gods on earth.
Christopher is found by this organization that is seeking him, or rather who he was. A chance meeting at a book store buying his sister Briana gets him in contact with two mysterious people, one of them being an older version of the American in the first part of the story. This time the person who tries to kill Christopher is his sister Briana, who kills both parents and seeks to kill Christopher. She is thwarted just in time and Christopher is ushered away.
Then, there is a fun little short story about a toss of the coin in the back of issue one featuring Taoka.
All in all, this is a very complex first issue. Higgins managed a very difficult balance of showing the readers the big picture story and balancing Christopher with the world that was and is around him. The hook with Briana was brilliantly done.
Issue two is a bit more straight forward. We learn the American is called Dominic and the elder woman is Sareh. Both of them are part of the rebellion. Dominic is trying to awaken the five gods trapped on earth, but in order to do so, they must kill their sentries, who inhabit people they care about. This creates some nice drama and a hell of a conflict for Christopher himself. Will he be able to kill his sister? All the while, Christopher’s memories of his past lives come back to him, including images of one of the most infamous Russians of all time.
Higgins is able to weave an interesting tapestry. At the heart of the story, this is about Christopher discovering who he (she?) was and the role he wants to choose in the destruction of the world. The great war between the one King and the rebellion is still going on. But will Christopher be able to kill his sister to do it? There is a lot of magic, fantastic elements and an interesting story that will keep you coming back for more.
Felipe Watanabe is an amazing illustrator. The ability to draw a war in heaven, suburbia United States, a ghost, a hospital on a ship, shows off just a glimpse of the scope of the story. Watanabe is more than up to the task as his pencils are incredible. Kudos to Frank William for setting the right tone with each part of the puzzle. The colors paint the images of memories, the now and the majestic all well. Cowle’s lettering is understated but aids in the world building and presentation of the comic in your hands. Much like the book itself, the whole team creates a masterpiece built from complex parts.
I really dig the design of the book. It feels like I’m reading something along the lines of what Michael Moorcock would do with the Eternal Champion, yet feels wholly original at the same time. With Birthright’s run over, Ordinary Gods could become the book that is the best fantasy book from Image month in and out. It’s a solid start to a very epic story. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. Go pick up the issues now while they are still available. This is a cool series so far.
Today is a first for my podcast as the band Zu is going to be performing live on my Twitch Stream Wednesday August 18th at 8pm Eastern time. If you had asked me years ago if I would be doing something like this, I would have called you crazy. Zulie Alnahas and Marc Lavoie are going to knock your socks off. Come watch them perform and watch the interview on my twitch.
My first sponsor is Year of the What by Jenn Liebermann. Starting in September I will be giving away her audio books and maybe a surprise or two in the month to come. If you yourself have a Kickstarter you want advertised on my show, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep on rocking out there. Next week I’ll be doing the start of my two part review for Far Sector. Going to be fun to reread them for this column. Until then, keep shining in the dark, and keep making beautiful things, and support comics.