One of the reasons I love The Godamned‘s premise is that the serial setup is only outlandish if you’re an atheist like myself. That doesn’t mean the Bible isn’t ripe for the picking and, if you’re smart enough, hosts a wealth of story telling potential. So far the series has delivered, from dinosaur type monsters fighting Cain, to a version of Noah that’s despicable.
Issue #4 is here; is it good?
The Goddamned #4 (Image Comics)
As far as Image Comics official summary this is all you get:
“Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain.” Genesis 4:11
For those of you wanting a bit more, the last issue ended with Cain–the protagonist of this story so far who only wants to die but can’t–being captured by Noah and his roving band of killers who feed humans to animals. He was on a mission to help a random woman find her son, but that went to shit.
Why does this book matter?
Jason Aaron has set the scene for a story set in a time that’s much more wild and untamed, where anything can happen because it’s all taking place at a time between Eden and any known civilization. It’s part historical (at least it feels that way) and part fantasy. It promises to be a story that isn’t too easy to predict which you can’t say about most series these days.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue is basically Cain versus Noah round one. Noah has the advantage that Cain doesn’t want to be alive, which means a lot of brutality and torture for Cain here. While Cain hangs from a cross, is dragged through the mud, and generally screams at Noah to kill him already we get a good look at Noah’s camp which helps convey what sort of culture we’re working with. The details are fantastic–R.M. Guéra once again astounds with well researched costumes and environments, which helps make the scenes feel all the more believable.
It’s hammer time.
The most important element that Aaron pulls off in this issue is the lead up to what might be the most epic vengeance/redemption story of the year. Cain is tortured, belittled and made to feel lesser all the while asking for every snap of the whip. Aaron successfully hammers home how little Cain thinks of himself, which of course leads to a cliffhanger that’ll make you wish it was a double sized issue. There’s a bit of fighting in the opening of this book, but it’s Cain wishing for death and enjoying the pain. Take this character’s ability to fight and give him a reason and it’s going to be a quite fun to cheer him on.
The color is also fantastic and something I’m sure many folks will overlook. R.M. Guéra uses a cool blue for night time scenes that’s somewhat unnerving and creepy which helps set the stage for Cain’s reintroduction to some bastard children. The skies run a maroon color as if they’re made of blood, while daytime scenes are rendered with browns and yellows as if the characters walk on feces. When bright colors are used, for a peacock that shows up, we’re witness to its beauty only to find blood dripping from its beak. We’re left to ruminate on how Earth is Hell.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This is a table-setting sort of issue to be sure, with Noah postulating his purpose and what God thinks or wants and Cain waiting for the end to come. Any good powderkeg needs time to build, but it does make this issue read as if we’re waiting for something, anything, to happen. Aaron does make the point clear it’s actually possible for Cain to die given the right enemy, which Noah has, but we never know why Noah doesn’t give it to him. A point is made that Cain is the villain since he brought about murder and Noah is the hero (at least he thinks so), but it’s not enough to hang the narrative on.
Gotta love the colors in this series.
Is It Good?
It may be a table-setting sort of issue, but it’s setting us up for one hell of an action fest that’ll bring a heaping pile of redemption for our protagonist. The Goddamned is very good at reminding us awful can be pretty too.