The Goddamned Book Two: The Virgin Brides. Writer: Jason Aaron, Art: r.m. Guera, Colorist: Guilia Brusco, Letterer & Designer: Jared K. Fletcher, Editor: Sebastian Girner.
BE WARNED: Mild spoilers abound in this wasteland of conceited prose
So allow me to begin by saying I really enjoyed the first volume of The Goddamned. Though the Cain shtick has been beaten like a horse that won’t die — I’m talkin’ Supernatural, He Never Died, and Lucifer — volume one of this vulgar biblical epic had me excited for a world-building exercise in the profane. I considered the first book lacking in a substantial story, but figured this was the point and would eventually become more than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides decides to add more parts without giving me the sum of anything.
This is not to say I hated reading this book. Volume 2 carries with it all the charms of Volume 1: world-building, deep characters, gorgeous art; however, the story that should tie all of these elements together seems to be as mysterious as God himself in this context. Seemingly unrelated to Volume 1, aside from sharing a world set before the Great Flood, The Goddamned: Virgin Brides drops us in a landscape of lush foliage and mountain ranges that are concealing a very . . . messed up secret.
Contrasting the barren wasteland of the first book, Volume 2 follows a nunnery/warrior women symbiotic community in the mountains. The latter ventures into the wild, slaughters whole families, and absconds with young girls back to the nunnery. Here, they are prepared to become “brides” to angels, their wedding days set for when they each menstruate — the terminology in the book refers to “blooming” — which irks me in principle. All of this is done in the service of creating Nephilim: half-angel/half-human creatures that wouldn’t look out of place in a Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon Preacher story.
The art style is jaw-dropping. I definitely get Steve Dillon vibes — gah, I love Steve Dillon — mixed with Guera’s own interpretive style. Character faces really stand out, giving emotional moments more panache and weight. There is a visceral feel to everything depicted. Faces of maligned characters are caricatured in disturbing ways — the nunnery Mother’s teeth haunt me — and the Virgin Brides themselves are softer in features. This all lends to an interesting visual theme where the God-fearing individuals are a horror show while the “rebels” are presented normally. Even the gorgeous natural setting, with its dense foliage, hides a forest of thorns that forms an obstacle to any escape attempt. There are many layers to the art in this book that convey something lurking behind everything beautiful, a theme that works...in mysterious ways.
Aaron’s writing is. . .interesting. I first read Aaron’s writing during his Gorr the God-Butcher stint on Thor. This alone should bring readers in for anything with his name on it. Unfortunately, there isn’t much story to praise here. The dialogue is as profane as Volume 1; “C” words as far as the eye can read. The “story” consists of an escape tale that litters the book with connecting elements to the first volume. Nephilim are brought back, which may represent something important, but this is a question that isn’t even asked. Cain is seen in the closing panels. . .for some reason.
The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides serves to litter the playing field with story elements that seem to be waiting for their grand purpose. My biggest problem lay in the patience that I as a reader am expected to have. I’m all about laying down seemingly unrelated elements only to bring them together in a cacophony of climax, but there must remain something to keep the reader interested until this climax is reached. The book simply can’t be an exercise in patience, a fallacy I feel this book commits. I will most definitely continue reading the series as this creative team has earned my trust, but this does not mean I must simply go easy into that goddamned night.
Pick up a copy of The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides at your LOCAL COMIC SHOP or at Comixology! Do the same with Volume 1 as well!
I know I also mentioned Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon. I would definitely recommend their Preacher series if you enjoy sacrilegious content that borders on the obscene. While I’m selling to you — gleefully I might add — go check out volume 1 of Jason Aaron’s complete run on Thor, found right now on Amazon.