Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: R.M. Guera & Giulia Brusco
A biblically-themed horror comic written by Jason Aaron? How could I resist?
This latest entry in The Goddammed is quite an interesting book. It focuses on subjects like arranged marriage and the fear young girls feel over their first periods. The premise is quite a simple one. Sharri and Jael are two young girls living in what seems to be a purely female community. There’s a handful of adults in charge who raise the young girls to pray and obey god. It’s basically a nunnery set on a mountain. Whenever one of the girls has their period they’ve whisked away to the peak of the mountain for an arranged marriage to a son of God. Of course, the brides don’t come back and some of the young girls aren’t keen on tying the knot. It’s a nice setup so let us see if the first issue does it justice.
The story starts with a group of warrior women taking a young girl named Lillian to be wed. The artwork makes everything look idyllic which creates a nice contrast with the dialogue. Lillian seems happy to be married and everything seems celebratory yet the adults discuss her like a piece of meat. Right off the bat, it makes you wonder what’s actually going on here. Lillian’s enthusiasm makes you so hopefully, things will go well for her. The rest of the story is mainly about Sharri and Jael investigating what happened to her so I feel that’s important. Aaron giving the audience a reason to care about Lillian makes it easier to become invested in the mystery. Admittedly it’s a somewhat predictable mystery. There are no prizes for guessing how this marriage turns out. it’s written and handled well though so I can’t fault it.
The main characters do a lot to carry this tale too though. Jael is one of the most foul-mouthed characters I’ve come across in comics. She doesn’t strike me as a character that’ll last the entire story but she’s certainly entertaining. Sharri feels more like the protagonist here. She’s not as loud as her friend but she seems to show a bit more depth. The issue does a lot to explore her fear of her period and being forced into one of these marriages. I’ll be curious to see how Sharri develops through the rest of the series and whether Jael proves me wrong.
The art carries its weight too. Guera and Brusco do a fantastic job. Their work looks fantastic whether it’s the bright, happy, fantasy-like moments or the pure body horror of Sharri’s nightmares. There isn’t too much to say about the lettering. It does its job throughout the book. There were two things I found noteworthy about it though. The issue starts with a bible quote from Genesis. It’s shown in a black text box with white writing. Obviously the opposite is the standard for comics so this really does a good job of drawing attention to the quote. Second, the different colours used for sound effects and screams really makes them stand out against the artwork. It’s a small pair of touches but they add to the overall quality of the book.
The one thing I will say is this is definitely a book for mature readers. There’s the swearing from Jael there’s a lot of nudity in this too and it’s not just adults. There are pages in this story depicting naked children being inspected by adults who judge their progress towards womanhood. It’s not portrayed as sexual but I think it’s something any potential reader should be made aware of. This is a book clearly aimed at adults and that may not be appropriate for younger readers. I feel that’s a bit of a shame. I know a lot of girls do worry about having their first period and not many comics explore the topic. A story like this from such a popular comic writer could potentially help make the subject easier to broach. Sadly, due to the child nudity and horror elements, it’ll likely be difficult for readers in that age group to access this series.
In summary, this was a really good issue. The artwork is goddammed fantastic, the characters are enjoyable and the story is done well. I loved the horror elements throughout this issue and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series goes. It’s also extremely accessible, even if you haven’t read Aaron’s previous work on The Goddammed. It’s just disappointing that so many people who could benefit from its themes won’t have easy access to the series. I highly recommend picking up a copy though. It’s definitely worth a read.
The Goddammed: The Virgin Brides #1
This is a really great comic. The art is stunning throughout and you can tell a lot of effort was put in to make sure each page of art and its colours fit the events taking place. The lettering is solid with a few nice touches that help things like the opening bible quote stand out. The characters are all written well and it's easy to get invested in them quite quickly which is vital for a short series like this. The story is a bit predictable but it covers some topics you don't really see in comics often and I'm excited for the release of the next issue. I just wish this series was suitable for younger audiences as I said in the review. That's my only complaint.