REVIEW [Comics]: A God Somewhere

10 07 2010

So. I’m not keen on hard sells. The concept of foisting product(s) on someone is tremendously bothersome to me; I’m reluctant, even, to accept suggestions from my friends. With all of that said, I picked up A God Somewhere because someone recommended it [shout out to Rich at Earth-2]. Call me hypocrite if you must, but I’d politely declined previous suggestions, and I couldn’t keep doing that.

"What makes a human being human?"

In four chapters, writer John Arcudi [The Mask, B.P.R.D. (Dark Horse); Major Bummer (DC Comics)] and artist Peter Snejbjerg [The Light Brigade; The Mighty (DC Comics)] present the story of Eric Forster, his friend Sam, and Eric’s brother Hugh. These three maintain a close friendship until a strange explosion empowers Eric with supernatural abilities. Initially, Eric uses these powers for good; he assists in the rescue of several of his neighbors, achieving “in minutes what would have taken the fire department hours” (39). Hugh’s wife Alma declares Eric’s survival a “miracle” (30), and Eric justifies his later acts of heroism upon this presumption: “God didn’t give me these gifts to be afraid” (57). Despite Sam’s attempt at pragmatism, Eric concludes a call to righteous example. Of his new powers, he says, “Nothing but the hand of God makes sense” (58). It’s this seemingly unquestioned determination that anchors the conflict of the book.

A God Somewhere opens with its trio discussing the purchase of a boat as an attempt to recreate weekends they spent with their father as children (7). After Eric’s transformation, however, this plan is quickly forgotten. Eric attempts to parlay his newfound celebrity into helping Hugh and Alma move into a “nice neighborhood,” but Hugh rejects the offer (69). By this point, I’d accepted the narrative at its face value; it seemed to concern the fluctuations of fraternal relationships. Instead, the story takes a decisive turn when Hugh, in a moment of frustration, punches Eric, the blow merely glancing off his older brother’s chin (84).

Hugh, surprisingly, exhibits no jealously toward his brother; indeed, he wants no part in the “circus” of Eric’s celebrity, and he notices a growing distance in their relationship. Eric recognizes Hugh’s rejection of his help as a rejection of Eric himself, and Eric expresses misplaced anger upon the President (and staff) in a scene meant also to demonstrate the lengths to which Sam enjoys the reflective glory of his association with Eric.

If this story seems disjointed by way of summary, it’s because it read that way. Sam is the thread that runs throughout this story, and yet he doesn’t assume narrative prominence until a third of the way into the book. Eric’s brutal act at the close of chapter two draws Sam into the role of passive observer, if only because Sam is literally powerless to stop Eric. When he asks Eric to explain his behavior (“How could you do something so wrong?”), Eric flippantly responds, “Wrong is just a word people made up. It has nothing to do with the real world” (101).

Much of the last half of the book concerns the escalating means by which the world attempts to stop Eric, and Sam records it all as a journalist. He retains some measure of dignity, though; he “can’t stomach the idea of turning a profit writing” a book about the phenomenon (176). By then, the damage is done: Eric’s divine example inspires a grotesque cult of personality.

I’m of a mind that Story can work in many ways. It can challenge its readers to accept a worldview previously unknown or inspire them to create fresh perspective. This is story that deserves to be read more than once. It possesses nuances of character that might go missed with a casual reading. My first reaction was to dismiss A God Somewhere. Why would a character act this way? I asked myself. The answer, it seems, must be based in a personal, rather than a literary reading. As a story, the book struggles to sustain its premise, but as a graphic novel it succeeds in elevating the form.

A God Somewhere is available from WildStorm Comics. ($24.99)

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PURVIEW: Green Lantern

17 07 2009
The future looks bright for Green Lantern fans.

The future looks bright for Green Lantern fans.

It’s a good time to be a Green Lantern fan. Just this week it was announced that Ryan Reynolds will be donning spandex as Hal Jordan in the live-action adaptation set to begin production next January. In two weeks, an animated film, produced by Bruce Timm (the guy who delivered Batman: The Animated Series from 1992 to 1995), is set to be released. And this past Wednesday saw the publication of Blackest Night, the eight-issue crossover event from DC Comics that features the Emerald Knight.

Although I can’t say that I’m breathless with excitement (I’m no pubescent Twilight fan after all), I am anticipating good things in the months to come.

In addition to Ryan Reynolds starring, it has been reported (at Variety.com and elsewhere on the web) that Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, GoldenEye) will direct. The dude’s rebooted the James Bond franchise twice; I think he’s more than suited to the task of translating Green Lantern to film.

Marc Guggenheim and Michael Green have been assigned the duty (privilege?) of scripting the movie. Neither is unfamiliar with comic book narrative: Guggenheim currently writes Amazing Spider-Man; Green is a regular contributor to Superman/Batman.

Moreover, neither is unfamiliar with film narrative: Green is the creator of Kings, a modern-day interpretation of the Biblical story of King David (although NBC has recently cancelled it). Guggenheim is the co-creator of Eli Stone along with Greg Berlanti (a producer on Green Lantern).

It’s too early to spread rumors or cast aspersions, but that won’t stop fanboys. Empire Online posits potential casting for Carol Ferris, Jordan’s boss and love interest: Rose Byrne, an Australian actress (28 Weeks Later). It even presupposes a villain: Hector Hammond, a former consultant to Ferris who (after exposure to cosmic radiation, natch) turns into a telepathic terror.

The animated film is much more simply summarized (it’s already complete), and is what you’d expect: an origin story. Jordan is recruited into the Green Lantern Corps and placed under the supervision of Sinestro, an esteemed member of the Corps. When Jordan discovers that Sinestro might be involved in conspiratorial shenanigans, he must act quickly to restore justice to the galaxy.

Green Lantern: First Flight is the latest (fifth!) in the series of direct-to-video features produced by Warner Premiere (a subsidiary of Warner Bros), and is directed by Lauren Montgomery, who also helmed the preceding feature, Wonder Woman.

Blackest Night is the crossover event of the summer, which means nothing to most people, but much to fanboys. The story (whose plot elements have been building for several months) concerns the emergence of William Hand (formerly a minor villain among Green Lantern’s rogues gallery) as the herald of Death. Given powers to resurrect the dead and warp their desires to match his, Hand leads (predictably) the Black Lantern Corps.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Silver Age Green Lantern, an occasion to be celebrated at Comic-Con International in San Diego next weekend. Yours truly will not be attending, for it has sold out. Nevertheless, my spirits remain high for my favorite superhero, but my expectations are guarded.

[update] GamesBeat is reporting that an official video game tie-in has been greenlit (no pun intended). Double Helix is producing the game (the first to feature Green Lantern). The studio (a division of Foundation 9) is no stranger to adapting film properties; it has recently released games based on The Golden Compass, The Matrix, The DaVinci Code, and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Blackest Night #1 is available now ($3.99).

Green Lantern: First Flight is scheduled to be released on 28 July 2009

Green Lantern is scheduled to be released on 17 June 2011.