When COVID-19 brought the comics industry to a screeching halt, my colleague Tony Thornley and I decided to dive deep into our longboxes and collections to bring you a new Comicon feature called New To You Comics.
Comics are on their way back, but we had so much fun with this thing, we decided to keep going.
Tony and I have very different tastes in comics. Tony loves his capes, super powers, and sci-fi. I tend to stick to horror, noir, and weird indies. Occasionally, our paths cross, but we, like most readers, tend to stay in our lanes.
The idea here is to break up that pattern a little. Tony’s throwing some of his favorites my way, and I’m sending him some of the books that I really love. Every title we cover is brand new to one of us, and every stinking one of them is available on digital and mail order platforms, in case your local shop is still closed.
In this installment, I’m introducing Tony to BOOM! Studios’ Godshaper, by Simon Spurrier and Jonas Goonface.
Here’s what BOOM! has to say about Godshaper:
In 1958, the laws of physics stopped working, but an alternative quickly appeared. People found that they each had their own personal god, a divine companion to take the place of electricity, combustion, transport—and money. Varying in shape, size, and power, these guardian deities changed everything.
Ennay is a man without a god, and he’s not alone. Men and women like him are Godshapers: born godless, but with the ability to mold and shape the gods of others. Paired with Bud, a friendly god without a human, Ennay crosses America seeking food, shelter, and the next paying gig. But despite their attempts to avoid trouble, Ennay and Bud stumble upon a mystery that will have lasting ramifications for man and god alike.
Written by visionary author Simon Spurrier ( The Spire , X-Men Legacy ) and illustrated by breakout talent Jonas Goonface, Godshaper introduces a vast world teeming with bold ideas exploring ownership, freedom, and the pettiness of possession—both physical and spiritual.
Brendan Allen: I know what you’re thinking. It’s true. We haven’t done a horror book in a minute. Don’t worry. I know how much you love them. They’re coming. But first, we’re going to take a look at another one of my favorite weird little indie books, Godshaper.
I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, where tech and modern convenience have all but replaced religion, gods, and personal belief systems. Godshaper is pretty much the exact opposite of all that.
In this alternate reality, it’s the tech that failed, leaving people completely reliant on their own deities. Entertainment, transportation, food, clothing…Nothing exists without the cooperation of their little personal gods.
Tony Thornley: I did not know what you were getting me into when you sent me this book. I haven’t read tons by Spurrier, but everything of his I’ve read, I’ve liked. At worst, it’s going to be interesting and full of wild concepts. At best it’s going to be an excellent read. And this is probably my favorite thing from him that I’ve read.
At its core this is a supernatural alternate history. And there’s a lot of thought that went into that. In the fifties all tech stopped working, and was replaced by the gods. You can see it in the designs. There are god powered cars, and they look like something halfway between fifties hot rods and chariots. There are celebrities and markets, but they feel more like something out of a post-apocalypse.
I genuinely love this.
Brendan: Right? As odd as the concept sounds, it plays really, really well. Fantastic world building. Si Spurrier is at the top of his game right here. It takes all of two pages to invite the reader in, pin them down, and set that hook good and deep.
The characters are whole, flawed, and easily relatable. Dialogue flows easily and moves the story along quickly, but spends just enough time on each new thing to let it set in. This is some incredibly nuanced flair brought to themes of class warfare, racism, religion, and identity.
Tony: Definitely. Ennay, our main protagonist, is multi-layered, and there’s so much going on with him beyond his ability to “shape” these gods. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that Ennay is a queer person of color (and possibly gender fluid) which is a great addition to the overall feel of the book!
His companion is Bud, an untethered God (a total anomaly in this world). If the story had just been these two hitchhiking through this post-Apocalyptic America, this would have been an enthralling read.
But we get gangs chasing them, the mystery of Bud, conspiracies… This is such a deep read. The best part for me was hitting the end of the third issue which provides a twist that completely alters the rest of the story!
Brendan: The first thing that drew me to Godshaper was the cover. If the interiors were half as good as that cover, I’d buy the thing just to look at the pictures. And… score! Jonas Goonface did both the cover and the interior art. Seems like that happens less and less these days, especially with the ‘Big Two.’
I totally get it when guest artists are brought in for variant covers, or when the writer is also an artist and they throw up some art for a variant, but as a consumer, I really appreciate it when the art styles are at least similar from cover to interior. The first thing I see when I peruse the shelf at my LCS should reflect the content to some degree.
Tony: I really liked Goonface’s work on the covers and interiors. It had a layer of realism, but it was extremely cartoon-y as well, which made the fantastical elements pop.
Brendan: I agree. The aesthetic is just caricatured enough to keep it fun, but oddly realistic at the same time. He also pulls out some really slick tricks with layout, composition, angles, and direction. The reader is pulled through the page and directed where to look and when, all the while having no idea they’re being manipulated. Dead brilliant. That’s some Penn and Teller shit, right there.
Tony: Oh yeah. There’s inset panels shifting some of the narration into dialogue, and you don’t realize who that narrator is for a few pages. There’s crowd scenes that are just packed with movement that you miss detail until a second read through. Stuff like that. It’s great.
Brendan: This is one of those rare pieces where I’d honestly buy the thing based on either the script or the art alone. The words are amazing and the artwork is stellar. Each medium is elevated to ridiculous heights by the other, and we’re left with this amazing book.
Tony: Oh for sure. It was one of the best things we’ve covered so far. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a new read. It’s sharp, fun, and enjoyable.
Brendan: Right. No. We don’t deserve this book. I’m glad you had a good time with it. What’s up next in your queue?
Tony: We’re going to flip the script! This time I’m the one recommending a horror book! It’s Boom!’s Something Is Killing The Children by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera!
Brendan: Nice. I’ve been meaning to read that one.
Godshaper SC, BOOM! Studios, 17 January 2018. Written by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Jonas Goonface, letters by Colin Bell, design by Marie Krupina, edited by Eric Harburn with Associate Editor Cameron Chittock.
Some of your local shops have re-opened. As always, we’d like to ask that you first try to get these books at your local shop. This is a very uncertain time for owners, employees, and their families. Show some love for your community and friends by buying from your regular shop when possible and safe.
If your local comic store is still closed, not offering safe curbside pick up or mail order, or is out of stock on this title, you can find a digital copy at Comixology for FIVE BUCKS right here. It’s also included in Comixology Unlimited if you subscribe to the service.