Comic creators have a tough job to do when preparing a series’ debut issue. They have to introduce the cast, setting, and beginning plot points, all in an entertaining enough fashion that the reader will want to pick up issue two. Does Godshaper #1 pull this off?
Godshaper #1 (BOOM! Studios)
The issue starts off promisingly enough. We get a short bit of narration about how the laws of physics no longer apply, but every human gets assigned their own god. These gods seem to primarily provide economic and career assistance, as they assist their assigned humans in business ventures. Gods also act as bodyguards in instances of physical altercation. Interestingly, these “gods” seem to have little to no agency whatsoever—they may possess unique abilities, but it is only their humans who hold any real semblance of power or control. Humans’ rights include the right to have their gods altered, customized with any number of different powers to best meet the human’s needs.
There’s a limit to humans’ control over their gods, however. Regular people cannot alter gods; that task is left to Shapers, a tiny minority of humans born with the ability to alter gods’ flesh, changing their appearances and modifying their powers. Shapers are unique in that they do not have gods of their own—a fact which causes them to be viewed derisively by the rest of society. Our main character is Ennay, a traveling shaper. He is accompanied on his travels by a god named Bud. Bud is unusual as well; gods aren’t supposed to be able to survive without human worshippers.
Writer Simon Spurrier establishes all of this key information within the issue’s first half, which sports some nice colors by illustrator Jonas Goonface. To be blunt, the issue’s first half is not great. There are some cool bits of narration and the book’s premise has potential, but little of what stands out as potentially interesting ever gets expanded upon enough. This series is built upon concepts of persecution and societal isolation, but neither of those ideas manifests meaningfully. Ennay talks about the state of the world, but we get no impactful depictions of his emotions or backstory. He seems content just to move along wherever life takes him, and I never felt compelled or excited to follow him on his journey. The art in the book’s initial pages is similarly mid-grade. There are some pretty colors and individual panels or character designs that look decent, but nothing feels breathtaking or particularly original. Asides from one cool splash page, there’s little that is artistically memorable.
I have so far specified that I was speaking about the first half of the issue, because things take a turn around the midpoint. Unfortunately, that turn is for the worse. The issue’s execution of its premise goes from serviceable with hints of promise to downright boring and uninspired. Nothing ever crosses the line into terrible, but nothing approaches being impactful either. A third seemingly major character, Smudge, is introduced, and just as I was thinking of how boring her personality and dialogue were, she delivered a speech about her tragic backstory. This should have made the character more endearing, but the flashback’s execution was as boring as the rest of the issue’s second half and I was left caring even less about her. Some more stuff happens, but none of it is very interesting.
Hopefully this series is just off to a slow start. There are some cool ideas presented, and small sections of the issue are enjoyable. As a whole, however, Godshaper #1 fails to do its premise justice.