Saturday, December 1, 2018

Godshaper by Simon Spurrier, Jonas Goonface

Rating: WORTHY!

Written well by Spurrier and illustrated well by Jonas Goonface (is that really his name?!), this graphic novel impressed me as an original work that refused to take the same old rutted path that far too many writers and artists take. The premise, for which the author offers no explanation or rationale, is that in 1958, the laws of physics stopped working - at least that's what the blurb tells us, but that's patently a lie, because most of the laws of physics seem to be perfectly functional - gravity and electromagnetic energy, for example seem to be sterling working order. How it is that mechanical and electrical machines fail to work is a bit of a mystery and it remains so throughout this novel.

The blurb "explains" that an alternative was provided in the form of a personal god (which look like animals and mythical creatures and are slightly transparent and come in a rainbow variety of colors). How this is an alternative is also a mystery because while some of these gods can haul transportation, very few of them seem to actually be engaged in that task, so while some are "the new fuel" I don't see how they are the "currency of the world." The whole idea of economics is a bit murky here as is the bigger picture of what happened to the country and the rest of the world. It's very much just a local, personal story of a guy named NA - or Ennay as it's rendered.

He's a skinny, black, bisexual musician which questionable friends, and equally suspect morality. He has no god. Such people are rare and shunned by society except when their help is needed because they have the power to 'shape gods' - although what exactly that means is a bit of a mystery too. It seems to mean more than just literally changing the god's shape. It seems to mean changing the god's abilities or powers, which means these people ought to be the most respected and highly paid in the land, but they're not - again, no explanation is offered for this paradox.

But Ennay has an advantage that most "nogodies" do not: he has a god who has no human (gods typically die when their human does, so we're told). This god is named Bud, and he hangs around with Ennay like they're best friends. His god looks like a traditional white-sheet-covered ghost, but he has legs, and a penchant for wearing hats. We learn later that his hats cover a curious disk-like object which sits atop his head, but what that is isn't explained - or not well enough that it registered with me.

Naturally this ghost is way more important than Ennay realizes and this later drives the story into something other than Ennay's simple wish to make his way to California to play a gig. I agree with some other reviewers that the ending is a bit confusing, but I liked the way people were portrayed both art-wise and character-wise in this and despite the unnatural world, they behaved a lot more naturally than too many graphic novels would have it. Overall, an despite its flaws, I really enjoyed this story and consider it a worthy read.