Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colors: Jason Wordie
Letterer: John J. Hill
Cover: Geoff Shaw & Dave Stewart
Publisher: Image Comics
The Donny Cates train rolls on with this collection of God Country, his best-selling Image comic.
In a small, dusty, Texas town, we’re introduced to the Quinlan family, as they struggle with their father’s debilitating Alzheimer’s. We learn that it’s been an ongoing problem with the law, as well as within the family itself. Just as it’s reaching the breaking point on multiple fronts, a looming storm tears through the town, leaving only debris.
As the husband, Roy, emerges from their destroyed home, he’s descended on by a giant, otherworldly demon. This is the first departure from our reality, and it’s swiftly followed by a twelve-foot sword splitting the monster in two. The wielder of the sword? Roy’s father, whose mind seems restored by the divine weapon.
The first chapter ends with the appearance of Aristus, God of War, above the Earth. As he touches down (superhero landing) the story opens its maw and consumes the reader. We learn the origin of the sword, Valofax, and of Aristus’ fellow gods, whose realm sits teetering on the brink of destruction. Both creators communicate impending doom through dialogue and visuals incredibly well. They don’t waste a page turn either, and give each chapter a gripping cliffhanger to propel you towards the next. There are hints of our own mythology within, but Cates heightens it with new grandiose concepts and ideas.
Geoff Shaw is at the top of his game throughout this whole book. His style is sharp and gritty, but he still perfectly captures the heartwarming moments this story hinges on. The aforementioned gods are huge and imposing. Each clash lays waste to the landscape and rattles the surroundings. Jason Wordie uses a multitude of colors to give this book a distinct look, and even the god’s various powers have a rainbow by-product that crackles after a blow is struck. Within his dark, scratchy inks, Shaw leaves a few comic and cartoon easter eggs for the perceptive reader to enjoy, as well.
There are numerous creator-owned titles released by Image Comics every month, and while it can be difficult to stand out in the crowded marketplace, God Country’s formula of heartfelt story and kinetic action pushes it to the front of the pack. My only complaint is that it came and went so fast. The short-and-sweet approach works well, but I could have spent more time in this captivating world they built.