Review: God Hates Astronauts #4

It’s the most wonderful time of the month again, gentle readers-- that magical time when I get to tell those of you who are buying God Hates Astronauts that you are living a life of purity and will be rewarded, and remind those of you who aren’t buying it that you are wicked, wicked people, and you will be punished. Just kidding. But seriously.

This issue of God Hates Astronauts has all the things we’ve come to love over the run of the series so far-- the highest possible stakes of drama (people getting mugged and invasions being prepared), romance (Star Grass and Starrior having a romantic night on the town, Star Grass having been de-cow-ified), and especially 3D Cowboy appearing in mouths, panel corners, and sometimes even the gutters, that little scamp.

God-Hates-Astronauts-#4-1For the first time in several issues, our intrepid heroes are starting to come face to face with the outside aggressors of the series, mostly Croad the Unfortunate, the bloodthirsty, whale-riding assassin of the Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger royal line. It’s a good spot to change the tone from mostly internal conflicts (the Anti-Mugger vs. his insane mugging arm) now that we know the characters, we know what they’re about and what they’re like, so we can guess what kind of conflict will be coming up as they’re faced with an enemy to unite against.

In a word: hilarious. In another word: hyper-violent. I’m super psyched.

Browne’s artwork continues to shine in this series. Sometimes in the course of a run, you can tell that an artist or a writer is starting to get bored with the material. All of a sudden, their sprawling epic about a post-apocalyptic band of survivors is starting to get repetitive and sloppy. Not so with God Hates Astronauts. If Browne isn’t constantly giggling at his drawing board when he’s putting this weird little package of a comic together, he’s at least making it look crazy fun. And you can tell that 3D Cowboy is his favorite thing he’s come up with since God Hates Astronauts v1, since the little guy is all over the place, being adorable and as shocked by the action as we are.

It’s telling to the economy of storytelling in this book that every month, Browne manages to check in on each plot thread and give them at least one scene with a good joke at the end, while also leaving room for the one-page ads for Minternets! starring Gnarled Winslow and the two-page Impossible story at the end of the issue. What’s truly impressive about both of those is that Minternets has already tied in to the main story, and it seems like only a matter of time before Impossible does. It’s a clever way to give us world-building and to check in on characters who are going to matter but who aren’t necessarily there yet. I can’t think of another book that allows itself to play with structure like that, and I applaud Browne for it, because it works every month.

Seriously gang, there’s nothing that’s not super joyous and delightful about this book every month. I leave it until last to read because I know I’ll want to savor it, like a delicious cheeseburger. I want you all to have that pleasure too, so buy the damn book already.

Score: 5/5

Writer/Artist/Creator: Ryan Browne Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 12/3/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital