A God Somewhere
Writer: John Arcudi
Artist: Peter Snejbjerg [gesundheit]
Published: Wildstorm, 2010
A common superhero origin story is that of the ordinary guy/gal given extraordinary abilities and their struggle with how to use these new-found powers. It can be summed up by the words of Spider-Man's wise, late uncle, Ben: “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
And sometimes there are those who choose to shirk that great responsibility, and abuse that great power. Thus, supervillains are born. But, like most things, it is not always so black and white; Magneto, a “villain”, wishes only to protect his people from what he considers a harsh and unjust world. A God Somewhere takes a look at that vast, gray expanse between “right” and “wrong”.
Meet the brothers Forster, Eric and Hugh. As teens, they valiantly rescue Sam, a new student at their high school, from getting beaten up. They become life-long friends. That friendship is slightly tested when Hugh marries a girl that Sam is also in love with. One night, an explosion of unknown origin rips though Eric's apartment building, but he is miraculously unharmed. He is also now in the possession of the ability to fly, as well as superhuman strength and telekinesis.
At first, Eric uses his powers to help others and is deemed a hero. He is instantly the focus of a huge media storm but starts to become more withdrawn and less concerned with the affairs of mortal men. His relationship with his brother grows strained and he eventually snaps, and begins slaughtering people just because he can. Soon enough, the full might of the U.S. military is brought down upon him in a battle royale worthy of Pay-Per-View.
There are some great moments, visually and in writing, like the line at the beginning, “eventually, maybe, you learn the cruelest lesson in life... you're just another character in somebody else's story”, or near the end, when Eric is walking casually through a scene of horrific carnage, bored look on his face as he rips the innards from yet another soldier with the wave of his hand. The cover itself is a send-up of the famous “footprints” poster [which I own!], and it makes for a striking image.
It is pretty of vague in terms of the source of Eric's power, but I didn't really mind too much. Eric is a fairly religious guy, so he naturally believes it's God's will, but the plot doesn't get mired down in the potentially huge and/or boring religious discussion. The story is more about what he does with said power than how he got it.
Overall it is good, but not perfect: The transition that Eric makes from “good super-Samaritan” to “mad god of destruction” is a little too abrupt. He goes from one touchy conversation with his brother to yelling at the President of the United States to crippling his brother and raping his brother's wife to psychotic killing spree? Seems a tad unbelievable to me. A recent film, Chronicle, takes on similar subject matter, and does a better job of showing a gradual descent [ascent?] into power-tripping that is more realistic.
Also, I'm not exactly clear what the message the author was trying to get across was, if any. The closest I can guess is that we, as limited beings, cannot hope to fathom the mental state of a supreme being, because we cannot conceive of what it is like to be limitless.
Anyway, this limited being is going to fire up a bag of popcorn and stream some Game of Thrones. What a good show!