Jonathan Hickman is back with a new Marvel epic in G.O.D.S. #1 — and his ambitions have never been bigger.
G.O.D.S. is the least Marvel saga from Jonathan Hickman — a big, sprawling sci-fi fantasy that purports to expand the cosmic side of things with new characters and big, existential ideas. As written by Hickman, who infamously reinvented the X-Men line and is currently shepherding the new Ultimate universe, G.O.D.S. is easily one of the most hyped new comics of the year. But does it live up to such immense hype? I’m not sure yet.
G.O.D.S. follows Wyn, a mysterious wielder of magic claiming to be thousands of years old who is forced to make himself known when a so-called “Babylon Event” threatens all of reality. With the help of Doctor Strange, it’s all hands on deck for some of the Marvel Universe’s biggest brains (scientific and magical, which seems to be a major theme of the series) to make things right before they go wrong.
I think my biggest problem with G.O.D.S. #1 is that there’s just too much being thrown at the reader on every page, and it makes retaining any of it a daunting task. Hickman is known for his dense, verbose scripting and it’s not usually a problem for me, but here I think his writing suffers for being so full of ideas that it doesn’t allow the reader to latch onto anything. He’s stated in interviews that he prepared a series bible for G.O.D.S. many years ago, and I think that illuminates what doesn’t work for me about it here — it reads like a compendium of out-of-context lore and ideas instead of a straight story. A lot of effort clearly went into building out the world of these new characters, but why should we care about them? Perhaps this will change in future issues, but I can’t say I’m especially invested based on this one. (Especially since this oversized issue costs a whopping $9.99 — that’s a BIG investment for a new property.)
To Hickman’s credit, though, a strength of G.O.D.S. #1 is that it doesn’t feel like a “Marvel” comic. A lot of the shared universe-ness comes across as cursory —for better or worse– and there’s definitely a version of the series that’s an entirely original, creator-owned work. Would that improve the comic as is? Unclear, but it’s commendable that Marvel editorial felt willing to take such a big swing with a “new” IP like this one. And above all else, it looks gorgeous thanks to Valerio Schiti’s art, which helps it go down smoothly despite some of the narrative roughness. Hickman definitely gives Schiti a lot to work with; this is Eisner-worthy stuff. I just wish the story being told excited me a little more is all.