One of the major reasons I stayed away from superhero comics for a while is that they all seemed to start taking on the same appearance and tone. So many writers had adapted the Bendis School of wisecracking hero talking to other wisecrackers (Don’t shoot. I love the dude. DD #50 rules) that the voices all bled together. Visually, the trend became to overly texture every aspect of the world and its characters as if the only way to make a character real was if you could see the stitching on their suit, and tell what fabric it was made of. In the past few years the Big Two and others have seem to have taken strides to fight against this, allowing artist to experiment in all manner of styles within the superhero genre, creating what now feels like one of the best times to be reading cape and tights stories. That’s all to say that amidst all of the amazingly good comics in the genre, I hope The Bigger Bang takes off with readers because I want it to stick around for the long haul. From beginning to end, I felt transported into this fairytale space story about Cosmos, the last being from our universe who was created when the sun gave in and everything ended.
Told mostly in narration, this first issue introduces us to Cosmos as he saves a planet full of beings called Laflourians from a volcano that threatens to destroy their world. Seemingly possessing Superman levels of strength, Cosmos pulls of this feat, most Laflourians running in fear once he succeeds while a child talks in awe to his parent about the caped man. Elsewhere, King Thulu, an alien being of the squid variety, sits in his castle space vessel, angry at the Laflourians’ continued existence with his poor lackey. While Thulu’s soldiers pursue Cosmos, he pulls off another feat of strength by giving a space whale a lift. The issue wraps up with the story of humanity and their end, Cosmos bursting fully clothed from the universe’s implosion.
Writer D.J. Kirkbride does a fantastic job this issue of establishing The Bigger Bang as a comic book that’s one part superhero action, one part space opera with more than a splash of existential exploration. Without speaking a word, Cosmos already seems like a being who’s greatest enemy may just end up being his own sense of purpose and loneliness in a universe that isn’t his own. Even more than Kirkbride’s script though, it was Vassilis Gogtzilas’ art that stuck with me long after reading this issue.
Like Jeff Lemire did in Trillium earlier this year, Gogtzilas departs from the usual uber realistic sci-fi look for an impressionistic, sketchy style that gives The Bigger Bang’s universe and characters a milky, dreamy quality. Looking at the pages of Cosmos moving through space feels as if you’re looking on someone’s dreams alongside them with Gogtzilas managing to keep it all coherent in spite of character designs that bleed into the background. While such a style can sometimes get criticized as lazy, it’s apparent that Gogtzilas knows what effect he’s going for, adding detailed flourishes where it’ll hit the most such as a great shot of the King’s many red eyes. He and Kirkbride made an active effort to distinguish this book from others, infusing the book with details such as the art running out of the borders in a way that implies that the story is coming together before our eyes.
The Bigger Bang is a surprise find in a week full of great comics. Its creators have taken what seems like a pretty big risk artistically, and I hope it pays off for them. When a comic starts off with space castles and space whales, it’s thrilling to think of what’ll come up next for Cosmos.
Writer: D.J. Kirkbride Artist: Vassilis Gogtzilas Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/12/14 Format: Print/Digital