Written by Jason Aaron. Art by R.M. Guéra. Letters by Giulia Brusco.
Imagine you binge watched Mad Max and Game of Thrones, and then read the Bible while SUPER high on cough syrup. The end result would probably be something fairly similar to Jason Aaron's 2017 tale The Goddamned: Before The Flood.
Now, three years later, Aaron returns to his marginally more messed up follow up on biblical allegory, with volume 2, The Virgin Brides. This time he's clearly been binge watching The Handmaid's Tale, as he's left the world of Cain and Noah behind to focus on a small, as yet unnamed, convent. Where young girls are raised until their 'flowering,' before being married off to angels. As I'm sure you can tell already, absolutely nothing wrong is going on, behind the scenes. Nothing at all. Nope.
I'm just going to say this now. I love Jason Aaron. His work on Thor and The Avengers has been excellent. His solo works such as Southern Bastards and Men of Wrath are also WELL worth reading.
I have issues with The Goddamned, though. There have been so many different and interesting takes on The Mark of Cain, and post-Eden earth, many of them are very readable. The Goddamned decided that the best way to stand out from the crowd was to go full edgelord. Every second word is the kind of language we prefer not to use on this site, and if people aren't swearing, or cursing God, they're probably not talking. And when people aren't talking, it's probably because they're either killing someone or doing something worse.
Cain's whole arc is about his search for a Nephalim (a child of a human and an angel), because he believes that only a child not born of man can bring him the death he so craves. I think you can see where this is going.
Thankfully, he seems to have learned a little, for arc two. The language is still fairly coarse, but at least now he can sometimes go almost a whole page without someone saying a word that would get you banned from Twitter.
Sadly, the plot is still fairly generic. There have been a thousand variations on "girls raised to be wives/mothers, try to run away because they got their period." Thankfully, this is Jason Aaron. When it comes to writing long plots, there are very few writers working today who can match his skill. So, while I wasn't blown away by the opening issue, I have faith that he can pull it back, by the end (see what I did there?).
Thankfully, while the script may have left much to be desired, Guéra's art is outstanding. From the stark darkness and blood of Before the Flood, to the utopian vistas of Virgin Brides, it seems there's nothing he can't do. And the contrast between the idyllic scenes he draws and the horrors Aaron writes within them, leaves the reader feeling vaguely on edge, even before things start to go wrong.
Overall, not the best start to a series, but there's enough there, and I have enough trust in the team working on it to hope that it will pick up, going forward. Hopefully...
The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides, Issue One, published by Image Comics, is available July 1, 2020 at your local comic shop or at comixology.