If you’ve ever wondered what society was really like near the dawn of civilization then check out The Goddamned and see Jason Aaron’s gritty and violent vision of what that must have been like. The story follows Cain, the man who created murder when he slew his brother Abel. We pick up 1600 years after humanity was cast out of the Garden of Eden. The world is a harsh place and it is killed or be killed. The strong survive and the weak are used or killed.
Cain is tired of walking the world and is seeking his death. The problem is he was cursed to walk the world forever as punishment for killing Abel. There is a loophole, however, that he can be killed by one of the Nephilim. The Nephilim are the spawn of angels and humans, and not always willing ones. Their link to god is what gives them the ability to kill him.
While seeking to end his own life he ends up helping to save another when he decides to help a mother, Aga, recover her son, Lodo, who was abducted by minions of Noah. Cain decides to help her because her mother’s love for her son reminds him of his own mother, the one person who ever loved him. He also has a small bit of guilt for not having let the boy accompany him earlier and knowing the harsh treatment that awaits the boy. Aaron’s interpretation of Noah fits right in with the setting and does not try to force the character to be a “good guy”. The interactions between Cain and Noah show two strong personalities clashing, each one thinking they are justified despite the terrible things they must do. I won’t tell you how the battle ends, but I will say that Cain does come across a Nephilim. Will he finally embrace death or will he actually find something worth living and fighting for?
The action scenes have an amazing flow and one that impressed me particularly went on for 5 pages with no dialog or narration at all. You know what? It didn’t need any. R.M. Guera conveyed everything that was needed with his visuals. The action spoke louder than any words could have. Text would have taken something away. Sometimes less is more and this team used that to their advantage.
Guera captures the historical aspect of the story and creates a primeval world that is fraught with danger. The harsh conditions of the world is conveyed by the characters, who range from thin and starving slaves with sunken in faces to overweight overlords. Giulia Brusco’s colors give an old world feel to the story and the browns and grays convey the harshness of the world. To contrast the gritty coloring style that so deftly shows the condition of the world 1600 years after Eden Brusco uses soft smooth colors in a flashback to Eden which shows the vast contrast between the two-time periods and places.
The Goddamned was an interesting read that kept my attention from beginning to end. The graphic novel covers the first 6 issues of the comic series and I read through all 6 in one sitting. The ending of the book summed up the world that Aaron and Guera have created and what it has turned the people who live in it into. It’s a world worth reading about.
Overall Rating: 4
(W) Jason Aaron (A) Giulia Brusco (A/CA) R. M. Guera