And thus, with a bang, and a whimper, and a loudly uttered “FUGGGG,” so ends the first arc of Ryan Browne’s God Hates Astronauts. And I am just as crazy in love with this book as I was the day I first read it. We catch up in this issue with the events of two years ago, when Admiral Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger lost his life, and we find out where his body has been taken, and by who (seems like about 60% Orion of the New Gods, 20% Etrigan the Demon, 20% fabulous space adventurer?); we find out that the good Doctor remembers exactly who mugged him, and Lebronson is right there to take care of business; and Star Grass quits being a whiny dickhead and finally deals with Croad the Unfortunate (in probably my favorite single page of combat thus far). It’s all delightful, but it doesn’t feel like the end of a chapter.
This issue isn’t so much a neat wrapping up with an eye towards the next arc like many books tend to be; I think, in his head, Browne is still writing the book like he did the webcomic, as just issues that have to keep coming out. And for all that that may not make for a satisfying trade in terms of “Oh good, everything is finished,” I’m a fan. This is probably the kind of feeling people had when Fantastic Four was coming out monthly from Lee and Kirby. It wasn’t building towards this collection, it was just a great damn story every month.
That’s not to say that God Hates Astronauts is ill-paced. Every month, Browne devotes as much page space as he needs to the main plot threads and progresses them to his liking, as well as pages for Gnarled Winslow and his demonic Minternets and The Impossible’s... uh... impossible journey through space. He just likes us, as readers, enough not to put a big fucking bow on the whole thing every few issues and advise us to go buy the trade so that it’ll all make sense. I’ve got bad news for you there, scout: this book is never going to make sense, and that is the mad delight of reading it every month.
Browne’s art has been on point every month with this book, as well. It bears repeating that this is the kind of book that a man could start to slack on. “People know what whales look like... I don’t need to put that much detail in here.” False. People love seeing a gloriously rendered whale, especially if they think that whale may soon be punched in the face and have its brain come out its blowhole. In terms of hierarchy of information, Browne lavishes detail on the important things in the panel to the point that he could be pulling a Ditko sometimes and not drawing a background at all, and this reporter would not have even noticed over the sound of all the goddamn fun he was having.
This is a tough book to explain to people. The plotlines are wide-reaching and largely laugh-out-loud ridiculous. But this is a book that you should be telling people about. Give it to your stoner best friend. Give it to your punk rock girlfriend. Give it to your fucking mom. This is a book that fills a niche on the shelves that I didn’t even know existed until it came out, and now that there’s going to be a trade (which, since it’s an Image book, I have to assume will only be ten bucks), this is the perfect time to make everyone a God Hates Astronauts fan and bring them back for the second arc.
Writer/Artist: Ryan Browne Colorist: Jordan Boyd Letters: Chris Crank & Ryan Browne Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 1/7/15 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital