The 1960′s saw a vast revival in comic books. The re-introduction of superheroes in the pages of Showcase Presents was met with the maddest comics ever seen by Lee and Kirby in Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange and more. The ideas came fast and furious but they got all the weirder when the aging Kirby took the helm of his own series for DC Comics with Kamandi and the Fourth World series. Kirby seemed tapped into a frenetically inventive realm that many of us have only known as children when idly doodling in math class. Kirby’s comics were full of so many ideas, creatures and settings that plots as mad as custom-made friends went almost unnoticed. They felt like comic books from another planet.
In 2005 Xeric Award winning cartoonist Tom Scioli was joined by writer Joe Casey to create a salute to what have been coined ‘cosmic comics’ with Gødland. Scioli had already made an impression with his series 8-Opus, a kind of sci-fi opera comic. Words can only come so close to describing just how amazing and ridiculously creative Gødland is. Adam Archer is granted strange abilities by the Cosmic Fetus Collective during an expedition to Mars. Returning to Earth, he becomes a superhero protecting all of humanity from bizarre threats.
Even though his intentions are noble, the public at large distrusts Archer and instead supports the brash and media-friendly hero called Crashman (who functions as a kind of co-star in the series). Archer’s three sisters live with him in a futuristic fortress and drive him crazy as only family can. Looking for ways to not only fight those who would do harm, Archer is also on a spiritual journey inwards that no one can understand aside from his massive super-intelligent space dog.
The adventures are just as outlandish as the premise. In one issue he meets an enormous dog name Maxim who in the ebd becomes a friend to Archer as they are both agents of the Cosmic Fetus Collective. Some other meetings are less peaceful including the notorious Basil Cronus – a man who carries his head in a jar, scouring the planet for alien artifacts to get high off of them.
The cosmic plots are perfectly complimented by Scioli’s outstanding artwork. There have been many Kirby imitators over the years and I must admit that on first exposure that is how I thought of his art but have since been proven woefully wrong. Scioli has captured the same uncanny source that Kirby was tapped into back in his heydey. It’s not an imitation, it’s another artist speaking the same language. Scioli’s layouts are bombastic and his characters dynamic, filling each issue with more excitement than can be found in any other comic book on the stands today.
I am constantly reading online that readers are frustrated by modern comics and wish for a return to the way things used to be. While my own personal enjoyment of the medium is more accepting than that, I can think of no better comic to suggest those readers than Gødland. An Eisner Award-winning series, Gødland is a simple yet uniquely fun comic that will make you feel like you are reading it in a dream.
The fifth collected volume Far Beyond the Bang, hits the shelves this week, but you can still get the previous four.