Writer: Kyle Higgins; Artist: Felipe Watanabe; Colorist: Frank William; Cover: Dave Johnson, Tula Lotay, Dan Panosian, Rod Reis, Nicola Scott, Declan Shalvey, Felipe Watanabe; Cover Colors: Matt Wilson; Backup Story: Jana Quinn; Logo Designer: Rich Bloom; Designer & Editor: Michael Busuttil.
Ordinary Gods #1 from Image Comics delivers on its oxymoronic title with a tantalizing epic story shrouded in the everyday. The writing and artwork complement each other and maintain a nice parallel structure that proves fruitful, should you hold out until the final page. Though there are moments where showing would have been preferable to telling, this is a great start to a series I am quite hopeful about.
Five gods are trapped in a brutally endless cycle of birth and rebirth after being cast to Earth, the apparent losers of an immortal war waged in a realm beyond ours. Higgins’s writing presents two seemingly unrelated stories (which are VERY related) and makes me care about both. Whether I was seeing a mysterious man gun down a house full of Yakuza, or sitting in therapy with our young protagonist Christopher, I found myself engaged. There are some powerful emotional moments that occur in tandem with awesome panel work that breathes interesting life onto the page. One example is a moment when Christopher faces an obstacle in therapy. He and his therapist face each other in a long panel devoid of dialogue, an emotional moment. When catharsis occurs later on, this same panel is reused with a larger size, impregnating the moment with realization.
There is a large amount of history and lore that I feel will be explored through this series, but the first issue dictates that the reader receives enough of this fictional world to keep them hooked. There are moments, particularly in the beginning, where fantastical exposition is thrown at us just because we need to know it. It's not quite as intermingled in the narrative, which is jarring but sparse.
Watanabe does well with balancing gritty and soft moments, supplementing Higgins’s prose with poignant imagery. The opening pages display a magnificent use of shadows that cast a dark tone over the action. This transitions (quite bluntly) into brightness and varied colors, highlighting the interesting dichotomy between realism and fantasy (sci-fi? I’m not sure yet) that makes this title brutal at times.
The latter half of the book demonstrates excellent coordination between Higgins’s words, Watanabe’s art/paneling, and the lettering. The pages flow well, though the former half is a bit jumbled in its application of these elements.
Image Comics has intrigued me with Ordinary Gods #1. This promises to be a must-read story once it finds its legs and pace. I recommend this book and will definitely be keeping an eye on it as it develops. Be prepared to pick this book up upon release at your Local Comic Shop or Comixology when it releases July 7th, 2021!