By Jonathan Edwards
For about the first half of God Complex #2, I was finally getting into the story and enjoying myself while it happened. And then, right around the time Seneca visited the Fates, I started losing interest. It’s still a fine issue overall, and the last couple pages do present us with a decent enough cliffhanger. It just doesn't end up being as entertaining as the beginning was. And, I think I know why. Seneca’s character by itself isn’t all that interesting. Neither is his investigation into the deaths of the three Church of the Trinity acolytes. Yet, both work a lot better whenever we see the Rulers getting directly involved. Because they provide great foils for Seneca and vice versa. His moody, neo-noir detective shtick if offset by his fear of getting on their bad side and/or letting them down. And, their sense of superiority, inside information, and larger than life power struggle is offset by the legitimate need for his help, as he can perceive things in a way they can’t. As such, we get an interesting dynamic where, rather than condescend, the Rulers actually attempt to pick Seneca’s brain and enable him, and his both compelled and reluctant to go further and further down the rabbit hole that is his investigation.
We start shortly after the previous issue left off, with Apollo revealing that the one god of the Church of the Trinity is, in fact, real and a Ruler as well. This isn’t a particularly surprising revelation, but it does raise some questions with possibly interesting answers. Is “Trinity” its actual name? Or is that merely a moniker it created that the other Rulers use as well to dissociate it from themselves? If the latter is true, which Ruler was it that defected? Since the theme of the Rulers thus far has been Greek gods, more specifically the Twelve Olympians, so I’d be inclined to believe that Trinity was somehow related. It could be Heracles attempting to overthrow Zeus, just as he did to his own father. It could be Dionysus because of the real-world parallels between him and Christianity. Hell, if they were being really oblique, it could even be Hermes Trismegistus (meaning “Thrice-Greatest Hermes” and originally a Greek name for the Egyptian god Thoth) because of Hermeticism, and I honestly kind of hope that’s who it is.
Anyway, Seneca doesn’t make it very far after his meeting with Apollo and Hermes when he’s suddenly attacked by a group of gunmen in a van. Seneca takes cover, they speed away, and then an accomplice car dumps the corpse of his partner to send a message. This is more or less what leads Hermes to suggest he visit the Fates, where, again, the issue starts to lose steam. Really, I think I only scratched the surface earlier when I said Seneca’s character and story needed the Rulers acting as foils to remain interesting. Honestly, I think the real issue is that it was probably a mistake to make Seneca the book’s central character when the focus of Bryan Lie’s original conception was solely on the Rulers. Because, while the final product is still a perfectly serviceable comic book, I can’t shake the feeling that, whether intentionally or not, it’s just holding itself back.
The art continues to be pretty strong. Apollo’s design is easily my favorite of the Rulers that’ve shown up so far. And even if the Fates’ scene isn’t the best story-wise, it’s safe to say that aesthetically it’s one of the issues standout moments. The first thing I thought of when I saw them was the precogs from Minority Report (which only makes sense considering the precogs were themselves likely based on the Fates of Greek myth to some degree). Although, here they also incorporate the Thread of Fate by being hardwired directly into the Ruler’s network.
God Complex is a good book. Nothing more, nothing less. But, I’d only really recommend it if cyberpunk is definitively your thing. I’m on the fence about reviewing the next issue, but I’ll at least keep reading for now. And who knows, maybe subsequent issues will prove me wrong about Seneca as well as finally dig into the real meat and potatoes of the Rulers. Here’s hoping.
God Complex #2
Image Comics/Top Cow Productions