Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Donny Cates
Artwork: Geoff Shaw (pencils & inks), Jason Wordie (colours)
Release Date: 15th February, 2017
Following the shocking revelation at the end of the first issue of God Country – a revelation which saw Roy Quinlan’s Alzheimer’s-ridden father Emmett inexplicably wielding a giant glowing sword as he saved his family from an equally inexplicable demon attack – it’s safe to say that the bar has been set incredibly high for this brand-new Image Comics series.
Once again, Geoff Shaw’s artwork shows an impressive level of maturity here following his irreverent stylings on The Paybacks, managing to convey both the sweeping scale of Texas and the deeply intimate facial expressions of Emmett as the memories that had been stolen from him by Alzheimer’s slowly return. Shaw’s character design on the more Godlike aspects of the series are also top-notch, with more than a passing nod to the work of Jack Kirby in his hulking, armour-clad deities. Colourist Jason Wordie also deserves some credit for his muted, almost pastel-shaded aesthetic that gives this issue a sleepy, serene quality and helps to really underscore the beauty of the Texas backdrop.
That said, as strong as the artwork undoubtedly is, the real selling point of this first issue – for me, at least – is the fantastic dialogue of writer Donny Cates. Humorous at times, particularly during Emmett’s conversation with the sword’s legitimate owner, and deeply moving at others, he manages to inject the story – much like Shaw’s artwork – with an impressive blend of epic and personal. He also does a fantastic job of conveying the debilitating nature of Alzheimer’s as a disease, remaining respectful as he uses it as a motivation for Emmett’s new found status.
As a leading man, Emmett is an intriguing prospect. By all accounts a quiet, family oriented straight talker, the recent sword-based events have placed him in an interesting dilemma, and the calm, matter-of-fact and profoundly moving way he recounts his experiences with Alzheimer’s makes him an easy character to root for. It’s going to be really interesting to see where Cates and Shaw take the story from here, particularly if the final page of this issue is anything to go by, and the blend of grounded family life and interstellar cosmic warfare is most likely going to be an absolute blast.
I absolutely loved the first issue of God Country when it dropped last month, and I’m going on record right now as saying that not only is this second issue even better, but that this series is going to be one of the absolute can’t miss titles of 2017. You have been warned.