By Dustin Cabeal
It’s not hyperbole to say that Godshaper is one of the most unique comics I’ve ever read. Whereas a lot of Simon Spurrier’s work at BOOM! has been fringe sci-fi stories, this one is much more grounded. The reason it works though is that the artist is so fucking talented. This story lives or dies by Jonas Goonface’s artwork.
The premise is that technology vanished one day, but not without a replacement… gods. Personal gods for everyone. Well, not everyone because then the story wouldn’t be able to follow our lead character who is a “Shaper.” The story explains to us that a Shaper is someone born without a god, but that can manipulate other people’s gods, adjusting them to have different powers and even their look. The catch is that people without gods essentially have no form of currency for the world and are treated like shit. To put it the way the book does, everyone needs them, but nobody wants them. The comic follows Ennay, a Shaper, and a conman. He works with a God who is without a believer making them an unusual pair.
The story is smooth in how it flows. It establishes the difference, how the currency works and all the intricate parts that Spurrier has thought up. There’s a music scene that Ennay is a part of and it’s great because there’s subculture to the new culture we’re learning about in this story. The story isn’t without its conflict though, but that would be explaining over half the story to you, and that’s just not happening. Let’s just say that Ennay and Bud have hearts of gold, but that causes them a lot of trouble. Spurrier’s strongest aspect is his dialogue. He lets characters’ ramble, but he has other characters call them out on it. If I wanted to, I could give a mean example of another comic that tried this recently, but failed to execute it as successfully.
Now, I have only reviewed one issue of Goonface’s work on the site because it became a battle to see who would review his independent books. That’s how much we all enjoy his work around here. His style is not only perfect for this story, but it is the story. The world is rich with visuals. What struck me was that when the story presented a world that had no technology, in which time had in a way stopped, that gives you a clear idea of what the world should and shouldn’t have. Yet, so many times in stories the visual doesn’t match. Goonface made the world exactly as the story had set it up. It’s a world that’s stuck, but still finding ways to advance slowly.
The different Gods are also intricately designed. There are a flair and variety to them, but then also a consistency to them. It’s not like one guy is just a giant fucking dragon and then another one is a cartoon dog. It’s hard to describe any of them except Bud, who looks a bit like your typical ghost. Goonface’s coloring is also incredible. There’s so much depth, and realism added to the world because of the rustic, yet pastel inspired colors of Godshaper, that the result is beautiful. It’s also worth mentioning that Colin Bell is one of the best letterers in comics and I’m happy to see his name on more and more. The personal touch he gives the story shows how important good lettering is and how shitty average lettering is to a comic.
Spurrier has a dedicated fanbase, but even they might be surprised by Godshaper. The story is very different and yet put together incredibly. What might also surprise readers of Godshaper is that they’ll come away a big fan of the artist than the writer.
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Jonas Goonface
Letterer: Colin Bell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios