Rejoice, fellow peasants! Yea, for though it has been a long two months, we now have not only another trade of God Hates Astronauts, but a brand new issue, printed in Ryan Browne’s nefarious laboratory, floating above Challenger Comics in Chicago, and flown by space badgers to your local store. Our story begins with a quick recap of the story so far and a flashback to the beginnings of the Power Persons Five before jumping right in, moments where the previous issue left off. Star-Grass is gone (possibly disintegrated by his own hyperactive, sugar-powered daughter), Starrior’s star ring is broken, and the Crab Armada is upon us. While downtown is being destroyed by King Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger and his dread armada, Charles Lebronson is transporting his prisoner, the Anti-Mugger, into town on the back of his enormous turtle (tortoise, maybe?). Meanwhile, The Impossible has been hanging around with the Space Lords of Super Gentendo 64, and they turn the tide of the battle of Shitsville in an unexpected direction.
Usually, if I love a book, I find it easy enough to boil down to a tagline. Southern Bastards is Walking Tall + King Lear; Saga is Romeo and Juliet + Star Wars; God Hates Astronauts is a series that defies that usual ability to name what it is, because it’s a weird, gut-busting, book-length joke-Frankenstein made out of everything Ryan Browne has ever been into. For god’s sake, the cover of this issue has a Neo Geo reference. It’s a thing of beauty. Browne even manages to put in a glaringly obvious Death of Superman gag in this issue that, on its own would have been way too over the top, but in a book where there’s a character named Gnarled Winslow whose arms have been replaced with metal ones so he looks like a fat version of Jax from Mortal Kombat, nothing is over the top.
Browne’s art has always been distinctive and fun, but this issue feels like his biggest one yet. He draws a full scale alien invasion, a regiment of horseshoe crab assassins attacking the Star Bears, and a few intimate scenes of Starrior and her baby, and they all feel of a piece. The art doesn’t slack in any aspect from scene to scene, and he keeps his game strong; you can almost tell how much he needed the month off last month to come back big. He’s still making space for indie artists with “Texas Gnarled in Ghost Town” and “Chillin’ with Craymok”, which are both still delightful. Basically, issue 5 left this series with nowhere to go but up, and Browne met the challenge.
This is the darkest this book has ever gotten. And yes, I’m saying that about a book where a man once got his head punched so often that his solution was to have it cut off and replaced with a ghost cow head; where Admiral Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger lost his life to ill-advised farmer astronauts; and where the first issue featured a charismatic farmer who wanted nothing more from life than to fuck his chicken-headed female-bodied franken-farmer partner. This book gets weirdly dark, but this is the first time it’s gotten darkly weird, y’know?
Reading this book is like what it must have been like to pick up a Steve Gerber book in the 70s. It’s totally bonkers nuts all the time, and it could go anywhere from a semi-sentient heap of swamp trash to a completely sentient (and pissed-off) duck in a trilby, and it all, in its trippy glory, just makes sense. God Hates Astronauts? I mean, of course he does.
God Hates Astronauts #6 Writer/Artist: Ryan Browne Colorist: Jordan Boyd Letterer: Chris Crank & Ryan Browne Designer: Thomas Quinn Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 3/4/15 Format: Ongoing series; Print/Digital