Publisher: Image Comis
Writer: Donny Cates
Artwork: Geoff Shaw (pencils & inks), Jason Wordie (colours)
Release Date: 11th January, 2017
“Long time ago out in West Texas there was this storm…”
The first issue of God Country, the latest offering from the seasoned comic book partnership of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw (Buzzkill, The Paybacks), introduces us to Roy Quinlan, his family, and – most importantly – his Alzheimer’s-ridden father Emmett.
Full disclosure: I came into this series blind, having intentionally avoided any prior information about it with the exception of the creative team and the title, and I’m genuinely glad I did. As such, I’m not really going to delve too deeply into the actual events of the first issue in this review, because I wholeheartedly believe that is story that’s going to work a heckuva lot better when it catches you out of the blue.
What I will say however is that Cates does a really impressive job of setting up the story here, with an unknown narrator recalling the events we’re about to watch unfold. The complex and troubled dynamic between father and son is handled beautifully, with the former putting his wife and daughter in an extremely unhappy situation by uprooting them from their home in Austin to come and look after the latter. The history between the two isn’t examined too deeply just yet, but Cates creates just enough intrigue to make us want to find out more – and that’s even before the end of the issue throws a massive curveball into the proceedings.
After the slapstick, over the top insanity of The Paybacks, it’s fascinating to see Geoff Shaw’s artistic style adapt and evolve here, providing a far more grounded, far more emotional form of visual storytelling. The story is fairly understated and for the bulk of this issue, and yet Shaw still does a wonderful job of including tiny details to catch the eye and packing an impressive amount of emotion into his characters without having to turn them into caricatures in the process.
The last few pages of the issue are nothing short of flawless as Cates and Shaw draw back the curtain in dramatic fashion, showing us what this series is really going to be all about, and making it an absolute certainty that anyone who has made it to this point simply has to pick up the second issue as soon as it goes on sale.
This is one of the most exciting and captivating first issues of an Image Comics series that I’ve read for quite some time, which is definitely saying something. Cates and Shaw are working in perfect harmony here, creating an intense, grounded world that’s about to be blown apart in the most gloriously celestial fashion imaginable. Highly, highly recommended.