Review – The Goddamned #5 (Image Comics)

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Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: R.M. Guéra, Giulia Brusco
Release Date: 23rd November 2016

After an almost six-month delay, the final issue in the first arc of Jason Aaron and RM Guéra’s The Goddamned is here, and while it’s undoubtedly tough for a series to keep any sense of momentum going after such a long hiatus, I’m happy to report that the first arc’s conclusion is more than worth the wait.

When we last saw Cain, he had experienced something of an epiphany, deciding that he no longer wanted to die following the realisation that he finally has something worth fighting for – or killing for, as it happens.   Unfortunately, his change of heart may have come a little too late as an attack by the damned on Noah’s ark sees things degenerate into a maelstrom of blood, mud and ravenous animals in fairly rapid fashion.

For the bulk of this issue, Aaron wisely steps back just a little, letting Guéra take the wheel in truly spectacular fashion.  The creators have made no secret of the reasoning behind the frequent delays to the series, with Guéra holding his hand up and stating that he wanted to make sure everything was ‘just right’ from a visual point of view before releasing this issue.  Well, that sense of perfectionism certainly pays off here, with one of the most visceral, violent and visually dynamic issues of the Serbian artist’s career – which isn’t a claim I make lightly, given his stellar portfolio of previous work.

Once again, Giulia Brusco deserves to be singled out for additional praise, with her intentionally murky colours helping to bring the shit and blood-stained world that Aaron and Guéra have created to life.  The pages almost feel dirty as the chaos unfolds and the bodies start to pile up, and at the same time everything remains clear and detailed throughout, with the wonderful use of pale blues and purples – along with occasional flashes of crimson – never swallowing things up entirely.

Okay, so this may feel like a bit of a sprint finish after a relatively sedate pace to the arc so far, but all the storyline seeds Aaron had previously planted bear fruit here, with Cain’s change of heart giving the story an extra layer of pathos as his deeply flawed humanity finally shines through.  It’s far from a happy ending however, as Aaron takes one last opportunity to twist the knife – literally – in the final pages, providing an unapologetic “fuck you” to both Cain and the world he inhabits.

Ultimately then, the worst complaint that can be levelled at The Goddamned to this point is the release schedule, which has admittedly made it a tough series to stay fully engaged with.  Thankfully however, as I mentioned before, Aaron and Guéra most definitely stick the landing of this first arc perfectly, setting things up for what should be a drastically changed Cain when the second volume arrives in 2017.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier reviews, this is definitely not your grandma’s bible story, but over the last five issues, The Goddamned has also gradually evolved into something far more interesting than simply an ultra-violent religious adaptation.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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