by Mark Breckles
Warren Ellis proves once again why he belongs in the upper-echelon of modern comic book writers with his latest-release Supergod. Ever since Alan Moore’s Watchmen, it has been almost a rite of passage for writers to question the role of superheroes in comics. Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass ponders what would happen if everyday people turned to vigilantism.
Supergod is a bit more serious than that. Supergod is a five-issue mini-series in which a scientist re-tells the story of how the world ends—all while he smokes a joint, gets loaded on pills, and finishes the last pint of whiskey anyone will ever drink. Ellis transgresses past standard ‘superhero’ discussion, and creates the ‘supergod.’ In Supergod, every industrialized country gets involved in an arms race of sorts, similar to the one for nuclear weapons at the close of the 20th century. In Supergod, the countries don’t want nukes. They want to create a god in their image and use it for national defense. Obviously, the end of the world ensues.
Like the countries in the story, Supergod goes beyond what has been done before. The book may be too cerebral a read for the casual comic book reader. The plot-structure is broken and unconventional, and the abstract philosophical themes need to be digested slowly. Warren Ellis questions why human beings need religion and why we look to a supernatural force for guidance. More importantly, Ellis imagines a world where each country’s deities are placed against each other and the effect it has on the world. Although the entirety of Supergod can be read in under an hour, it deserves to be re-read again because, let’s face it, there is a lot going on here. But Supergod needs to be read by anyone interested in comics. It is a serious work in the genre, one in which the issues of God, religion, war, science, and human behavior are all called into question.
The most impressive detail about Supergod is not that it tackles a lot in just five issues, but that it succeeds in doing so.