17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2010
(SPOILERS, this one was too hard to write without them)
I went back and forth whether or not to pick this up when I first saw it announced. The only exposure I ever had to writer John Arcudi was his run on Gen 13 Volume 1, and I just thought it was ok. The premise was intriguing but it wasn't something I hadn't read in other forms before. All of this coupled with the fact it was an original graphic novel with a $24.99 cover price, made me very hesitant to invest in it. I'm happy to say it was well worth the risk.
Normally, one of the strengths of graphic novels is that they don't have to rely on cliffhangers every 22 pages like a comic book. The writer has more freedom to structure his story any way he wants. Here, Arcudi chose to do 4 chapters at 50 pages each. It'd be interesting to see if this was originally envisioned as a 4-issue mini series but if it was, I'd find it hard to believe each issue would've been 50 pages. But regardless of the original intent, this format works very well here because it allows for cliffhangers and also allows for the passage of time between chapters.
Speaking of time, Arcudi's got an interesting story structure where we follow the 4 main characters in the present while periodically showing flashbacks of significant events in the past between the characters. The main character is Eric Forester. We also follow his brother Hugh, his wife Alma, and Eric's best friend Sam Knowle. Arcudi does a great job of setting up each of these characters and their various struggles before we even get to the superhero parts of the story. But Arcudi doesn't give us too much exposition. He gives us just enough up until the point where Eric is bestowed with his powers.
From here, the story takes off in a very interesting direction. In the story Eric is a Christian so he believes God has blessed him with these powers. Now I must pause and let you know I am a Christian myself (don't worry, I'm not going to start preaching from here on), so that's the perspective I'm coming at this story from. The way Eric takes authority over his powers is almost unbelievable. But Eric is so euphoric about the whole thing, Arucdi lets us feel the elation Eric feels about these new powers.
This brings me to Snejbjerg's art. He does an amazing job throughout the novel but it's his facial expressions on Eric that really convey how happy Eric is this has happened to him. When you look into Eric's eyes as he tells Sam everything's going to be alright and then proceeds to jump out a window and fly into the sky, its Snejbjerg's art that makes you believe Eric.
Of course, from here we follow as Eric becomes a messiah of sorts (even though he outright states he does not compare himself to Jesus Christ). But his godhood loses its impact as he begins to see the corruption of man and how despite his great powers, the corruption still remains. At this point Eric has been simultaneously hurt by society and by those he loves like his brother, Hugh. It is this realization that begins to send him over the edge and where Arucdi takes us to some very dark places.
The battles that ensue which Snejbjerg illustrates beautifully are absolutely brutal following these events. Those following Boom Studios' Irredeemable have gotten a taste of the "superhero gone bad" story but here, there is no holding back. The story becomes heartbreaking as we see Eric driven mad by the idea that humanity is lost and not worth saving. There are even two plot points which I thought were interesting because they are two possible origins to his powers. One is where Eric dreams that he was once a god of another smaller universe who became bored and came to our bigger universe. The other is that Eric's powers are telekinetic in nature which could either be separate, or go hand in hand with the "god" explanation. In fact, the origins of his powers are never fully explained but that's ok because in this story they are mainly a catalyst for everything else.
By the end, Arucdi is not shoving some religious message down out throats. He is simply giving us a human story in a superhero setting. To see these ordinary people faced with extraordinary circumstances and how they handle it is the strength of this story. I cannot recommend this graphic novel enough. It is a further testament that comics can be a powerful medium to convey meaningful stories that can reach a lot of people.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2010
A God Somewhere is a tragedy, in the classic comedy/tragedy sense of the word. Whereas the progression of a comedy goes from bad to good, tragedy begins with its characters in a good place, and over the progression of the story turns to bad. A God Somewhere bestows one man with infinite powers. But rather than tell the traditional superhero tale of a man rising to protect humanity, writer John Arcudi and artist Peter Snejbjerg tell the tale of a man corrupted by ultimate power, essentially becoming the villain. In that, it is already somewhat unique, but the duo takes it one step further and tells the story from the perspective of a group of the character's friends who are impacted by the change, rather than focusing on the all-powerful man.
Comics have long been based on the premise that power brings with it responsibility. That's why our comic characters, when bestowed with something special, use that power for the good of humanity. Of course, that's one side of the story, and the other side is full of villains who have used their respective powers for evil. Arcudi and Snejbjerg, if A God Somewhere is any indication, present, for our consideration, that it is much more in man's nature to wind up on the dark side of things.
Eric and Sam are best friends. After a mysterious disaster that kills many at his apartment complex, Eric finds himself with Superman-like powers, which he immediately uses to pull the other survivors from the rubble. What causes the disaster or Eric's powers is never fully explained, and in the scheme of things, the true cause is irrelevant. What's relevant is how Eric thinks he attained the powers--either God bestowed him with them or he is, in fact, a god himself. And that belief ultimately leads to his feeling of separation from the rest of humanity.
Its human, "What if it happened in the real world?" approach to comics may sound like something out of the old cynical and grim likes of Alan Moore's Watchmen. And it is hard not to be reminded of the line from that book while reading A God Somewhere, "The Superman exists, and he's American." As Arcudi suggests with A God Somewhere, if the Superman really is American, that could be a problem.
Arcudi's tale is very much about the modern world. And, much like any great superhero tale, has a lot less to do with fantasy heroics as it does with real-world concerns. A God Somewhere is a tale about a man. It's about humans, nations, attacked by someone (or something) who thinks he is of holier stock than the rest of us. He applies flawed logic to the situation, surmising that if he was the one granted these special powers, and if he indeed has power over the rest of us, it is because he is better than us, and therefore his way must be imposed upon the world by using those powers.
The story is told from the perspective of Sam, who--as Eric increasingly shies away from public attention--makes something out of the situation for himself, and ultimately becomes our window to Eric. Even as Eric commits increasingly unspeakable actions, it takes Sam longer to hate him than anyone else, especially when there is something in all of it for him to benefit from. In many ways, we're intended to relate most with Sam. There's a difficulty in recognizing how out of hand a power has become when one is so close to it, and profiting from the mess is all too easy. But Sam isn't bad in the scheme of things. He tries to talk sense into Eric. Tries to understand him. Even if it's all to no avail.
It's an incredibly well told, well-paced story, thanks in large part to the art of Snejbjerg. The opening page of A God Somewhere is one of the most engaging and haunting I've seen in a comic. As much as the art, the coloring of Bjarne Hansen contributes to great tones that help depict the tragic downfall of Eric and his friends. When we see the background stories of the four main characters, we're looking at a very different style than when we're looking at the aftermath of Eric acquiring his powers.
A God Somewhere uses the comics medium to offer a fresh take on a tale of power corrupting absolutely. It wisely uses its origins to bring race into the conversation. And ultimately, as Mike Mignola suggests on the paperback's cover, brings readers one of the most "human" superhero stories in the medium. From start to finish, it is gripping, and while it has debuted with less attention than it deserves, will undoubtedly find a spot among some of the great graphic novels of this age.
-- William Jones
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A God Somewhere is an interesting graphic novel. It is about a man who one day becomes super powerful. Little by little he starts thinking of himself as a new God. The book in a way is a study of what could happen with a superhero on the real world. Comics have dealt with this question many times. While this is a topic that has been covered many times, I think this book was worth reading for several reasons. First of all, the book builds up slowly and has plenty of characterization. The first ten or so pages are about the normal lives of the main characters and there are some flashbacks throughout to give more depth to the characters. The wonderful art helps a lot in this, because a lot of the characterization comes through subtle drawings (such as facial expressions depicting disappointment when the dialogue doesn't make it evident, just as it would happen in real life). Another reason this is very good is that it follows the surroundings of the "hero" more than the hero. We get to see how his actions affect his family and his best friend. Finally, another great reason why this comic is very good is the conflict that the best friend has. It is interesting to see how a man reacts to seeing his best friend, a great man, become a monster. Very interesting.
The art in this comic is superb and the story is very good. Without too many pages (about 130) the comic changes a lot, from a superhero tale to a monster tale. The main drawback for me was how the transformation wasn't truly explained. The main character is very vague and his transformation is quite drastic. I think this makes the book very interesting but at the same time it feels like it could have used a few more pages. One could argue that all the information that is not in words is in the art.
A very interesting book. Worth reading and one that probably feels different if read multiple times since a lot of it is vague.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2010
Clearly John Arcudi's finest work, "A God Somewhere" explores how human beings deal with blessings and tragedies beyond their control. In this beautifully illustrated novel, chance occurrences lead to enduring relationships, which color the actions and motivations of the protagonists. Two white brothers, Eric & Hugh, come to the rescue of an afro-american teen, Sam, being beaten by schoolyard bullies. A deep friendship arises between Sam and one of the brothers, Eric. The other brother, Hugh, marries a beautiful afro-american woman, Alma, to whom Sam is attracted. Hugh's rivalry with Sam for Eric's affections and Sam's desire for Hugh's wife Alma become poignant subplots to the novel's exploration of Eric's sudden transformation into a being with superhuman, god-like powers. But superpowers do not make the man nor do they inform the tragedy. Instead, each character's human frailties and complex social and emotional interactions inexorably move the novel to its tragic conclusion. Here, there is pathos, ethos and the cruel but inexorable logos characteristic of classic tragedy--How could it have ended otherwise?
I will reread this novel for many reasons. The jarring beauty of Peter Snejberg's artistry, especially his use of familiar compositions (for example, Michelangelo's Last Judgement) to engage the reader. John Arcudi's homage's to Stan Lee's Hulk (Must power beget responsibility?). Bjarne Hansen's use of a limited color palette to simultaneously focus and expand the reader's vision. The pacing which sweeps the reader on a journey that is gripping, breathless and demanding. But the chief reason to return to this novel is to explore what makes us human. Much as Euripides used the great heroic stories of his age to display men as they are, so John, Peter and Bjarne have taken our superhero mythos and provided deep insights into our frailties.
There is ugliness in this novel, but there is great beauty, too. As its cover suggests, "A God Somewhere" will leave footprints in your soul.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2010
I've just finished reading John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg's A God Somewhere and I'm still mulling it over ... In fact, I think I'll be mulling it over for a little while to come. It'd be easy to hang one of a dozen cliches on it. It is this generation's Watchmen, and it is The Authority with consequences, but beyond that it's something more. This book asks you to imagine what would happen if just one person ended up miraculously gifted with super powers. Then it asks: What if it was the wrong person? These are quite heady concepts on their own, but they have been touched on before. If A God Somewhere left it there then it would be easier to dismiss ... But it asks one further question of its readers which really gets you thinking: Is there actually a 'right' person? And there's the kicker.
Like any great super powered origin, it starts with an unexplained explosion and a miraculous bestowing of powers. No one knows how or why, and that's not really the point - the fact is it happened, and Eric Forster is forever changed as a result. He gains super-strength, the ability to fly, a seeming invulnerability, and other powers we can't even begin to understand. At first he uses these powers to help - rescuing others from the rubble of his building, stopping bank robbers and thwarting crime - but slowly he withdraws from those around him and becomes more insular, like an island or a god unto himself. And so Lord Acton's words ring true once again, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
I think most people are familiar with this famous adage and think of it in circumstances such as these. Lord Acton said it so well, but over 100 years previous William Pitt the Elder said something similar which holds even much more significance for this particular tale ... "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my lords, that where laws end, tyranny begins." Eric Forster is a corrupted man. The law no longer applies to him, at least in his mind, and as he comes to that realisation the real changes come. Nothing matters to him anymore - not politics or religion, friendship or brotherhood. It all pales before him, and that's when the tyranny starts. Eric wages a one-man war against the world, starting with those closest to him and radiating out in a spiral of unstoppable destruction. It's brutal, it's graphic, and it's shocking. I found some things hard to read, yet it's illustrated with a sensitivity that makes you realise just how desensitised you've become.
I feel almost wrong saying this, but I didn't know John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg had this in them. Both have been good solid creators over the years, and each has produced some memorable work, but this ... This is something else. And when did Wildstorm become such a boutique publisher? I used to just think of them as big boobs, big battles and big guns. They still have those, by the way, but they're also cultivating a wonderful library of brave and innovative releases like A God Somewhere. It's an interesting juxtaposition and I like it. I really don't want to say too much more about the book because this is a review, not a synopsis. I don't want to spoil anything, I just want to tell you to buy it. Buy it, read it, and pass it on to your friends. Talk about it and consider what it says. It might not be everyone's cup of tea but, like any great work, it asks you to think, and that's what makes it really worthwhile. Bravo! I give it 9 out of 10 because a perfect score would seem to contradict the high concept of the book. See more reviews like this at Pop Culture Hound (popculturehound dot com).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2010
Others have reviewed more in depth so let me just say that this is a very well constructed story that takes a very adult approach to the material. I don't mean "adult" as in sex (though there is a little) or violence (there's a LOT) but in terms of its structure, which includes flashbacks and non-linear storytelling, and some fairly important themes you don't see every day in comics (race relations, familial jealousy, religious (?) violence). I'm new to both the writer and the artist and I was pretty well knocked out.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Peter Snejbjerg has long been a member of the elite team of artists assembled by Mike Mignola to illustrate the various titles that make up the Hellboy-BPRD universe, pound-for-pound the most talented group of pencil-wielding warriors in mainstream comics. John Arcudi has been the mind behind most of the excellent scripts and storylines, working with the skeletal narrative architecture bolted together by Mignola. He has proven himself to be one of the best and most under-rated writers in comics, crafting unpredictable and shocking supernatural horror that displays a remarkable comfort with slow-burning, character-driven suspense and world-encompassing, plot-heavy epics involving huge casts. His collaboration with artist Guy Davis on 'BPRD: Plague of Frogs' (which includes the last three of the four volume omnibus series collecting the entire storyline) was one of those comic partnerships that transcended the artistic compromises of the assembly-line method, a true synthesis of ideas from two masters of the form.
Arcudi and Snejbjerg accomplish the same feat here, re-imagining the Marvel Universe's version of the Norse god Thor in a realistic world in which superheroes are just a fantasy, and gods are a relic of our pagan origins. A good-natured, morally grounded young man is inexplicably given superhuman abilities in a violent eruption of energy that destroys his apartment building. As he struggles to save those hurt in the blast, his exponentially increased strength, invulnerability, and power of flight are revealed to the world by the reporters and cameras on the scene. As his best friend, his brother, and his brother's wife watch helplessly, the protagonist gradually loses touch with his own humanity, his deeply felt Christian faith twisting into a conviction of his own divinity. In what is one of the most violent, shocking, and horrific takes on the reality of power, Arcudi and Snejbjerg refuse to let the reader look away as the tiny fears and jealousies that afflict the best of us consume an otherwise 'good man'. He no longer has an incentive to keep himself in check, and the onetime hero and celebrity becomes a monster, declaring war on the human race.
The parallel to Thor is obvious, and this story may have began as an idea for a non-continuity Marvel mini-series. It works far better as the 'R-rated' graphic novel it ended up as, given the grim realism that is so necessary to its emotional impact. Arcudi's pessimistic view of human nature is reminiscent of the themes explored in Katsuhiro Otomo's manga masterpiece 'Akira', particularly the madness that mirrors Tetsuo's increasingly god-like powers. The brutality of the story is perfectly rendered in Snejbjerg's crisp, clean lines, and the horrific violence cannot be overstated; combined with the raw emotions of the story, the gore is incredibly disturbing. Arcudi and Snejbjerg are determined to make the reader feel the consequences of power and battle, instead of glossing over it like so many other titles. It's not as unsettling as 'Crossed', but I found it to be a heavier read than 'The Walking Dead', so this is not for people with weak stomachs.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2014
Looking at the reviews for this comic it feels like it's popularity can only be explained by everyone having read it in a cultural vacuum. There's nothing original here: if you want a take on superhero gone bad go read Akira, if you want an unconventional hero read Preacher.
This book: two dimensional characters and nonsensical character motivation (unless you're willing to take the old cliché that 'power corrupts' at face value). It tries to wax lyrical, like the point it's making is profound but it isn't, it's been done before and with more subtlety and poise. The story also feels too short, it needed a greater sense of depth and scope for it to be meaningful in any way. The artwork felt immature, all wide eyes and shocked expressions, like the artist had decided 'the characters are caricatures so I'm going to draw them as caricatures.'
The fact that people are lauding this as an exemplar for the medium makes me sad. Comics are better than this.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2010
Having read almost all of the great mythologies, I had to read A god Somewhere many times to comprehend it. How can Eric be lucid, near omniscient, with telepathic and telekinetic powers, and at the same time be a berserk monster? In other words, as Sam says, he is a "mass murdering Buddha." Imagine the carnage if the Hulk's battles with the Army were shown realistically. This is a graphic novel, and the carnage is graphic. Yet, Eric is much more than the Hulk. He can defeat an Army brigade with his mind alone. Indeed, his powers are god-like, and that is the rub. A being with Eric's powers has to be either accepted as a god, or go insane.
Or perhaps it was inevitable he go insane. God never spoke directly to Eric to explain his powers to him. At first he believed God gave him his powers, and then Eric came to believe he himself was a god, somewhere, in some other, smaller universe. But how could he be a god in our universe, without a clear link to God? How can he be a god, with his brother putting him down? Instead of looking up to him, putting him down. With a put-down like that, it was easy for Eric to go from god to monster.
A god Somewhere is an incredible mix of superhero, mythology, and theology, never seen before in comics or graphic novels.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2013
This is the text for A God Somewhere from my comics blog, Breaking the Fourth Wall, which can be found at: bt4wall [dot] wordpress [dot] com
A God Somewhere is a graphic novel written by John Arcudi and illustrated by Peter Snejbjerg. Its published by Wildstorm. Back when I was reading comics more regularly (about 20 years ago) Wildstorm was part of Image Comics. Now, its part of DC. I'm not sure how that happened, but I found the movement interesting. I always looked at most of the Image titles as being driven more by art than story, but this particular one is a very strong blending of both. Its also my introduction to John Arcudi's work. He wrote Gen13 back in the 90's, but I never picked it up.
Anyway, on to the story. A God Somewhere is about a man who becomes imbued with super powers, and how it affects not only him, but the lives of the people around him and the world in general. I found it to be a gripping read. It tells its story mainly from the point-of-view of the new superman's best friend, and its a tale of a descent into¡ not quite what I'd call madness, but more inexplicable detachment and base desire.
1 graphic novel (200 pages)
Not suitable for children (language, sexual situations, violence)
The story revolves around the actions of Eric Forester, mainly as seen through the eyes of his best friend, Sam Knowle. His relationships with Sam, his brother Hugh and his sister-in-law Alma, are the main lenses through which we examine both his history and transformation.
Eric gains the abilities of flight, super strength, a degree of invulnerability and some measure of telekinesis and telepathy after the building he lives in is struck by an object from the sky. The devastation it leaves behind affects everyone in the area negatively - except for Eric. After a brief hospitalization, he leaves not only unscathed, but enhanced.
At first, he believes that his newfound powers are a gift from God, due to his upbringing as a Christian, but as the story progresses, his view changes. Although we don't really get to delve directly into Eric's mind as he progresses along his transformation, we are able to observe its impact on his best friend, family, public-at-large and the press. Historic flashbacks and glimpses of his (and others') reactions to his actions move the story forward, offering peripheral information about the transformation taking place not to his body, but to his vantage on humanity and his place as a former member of it.
Naturally, I'm curious about the exact source of Eric's powers and what the extent of those powers are, but Arcudi doesn¡¯t focus on those elements. Instead, he gives us a tale centered on the ramifications of a person being transformed into a creature that would almost certainly have been revered as a godling in historic times, and on whether or not such a creature has a place in our modern world that it can meaningfully relegate itself to. It raises many questions about society, identity and responsibility but leaves certain questions unanswered, letting the reader infer answers based on their understanding of both the characters and their own judgment.
Those of you who have read Watchmen might make certain correlations between Dr. Manhattan's evolution and his place on Earth and that of Eric Forster's. I couldn't help but think of him as I watched Eric's personality change, but this story definately showed a different side of what could happen with such an extraordinary transformation.
I'd most recomment this title to readers who are interested in psychological transformation, and dark stories. I've read about some other titles which might possibly cover similar ground (Irredeemable) but I haven't read those stories yet. Once I've done so, we'll see how these scenarios compare against each other. Until then, here are some links with more information about the story: