Sean Maher's Quality Control

Monday, August 22, 2005

Small Gods: Big Pimpin'

Y'all may have seen me pimping Small Gods for a while now - it launched really strong last year and has only improved since, becoming one of my bar-none favorite monthly comics in just a handful of issues.

The concept of the book is that hightened mental powers have been discovered and scientifically proven, and that they exist on one level or another in about 1 in 100 people. This means that there are millions of peoples' stories to be told, and the book has moved to new characters with every arc so far.

Issue #10 launches the third arc, which keeps that trend going, and moves the focus from cop dramas and crime noir to military action and espionage. After their excellent work on the Small Gods Special last month, a great jumping-on point for new readers, writer Jason Rand and artist Juan Ferreyra continue the effort with an arc-opening issue that should be accessible to all readers.

The issue introduces Christina Fierro, an intensely powerful military assassin, and Michael Hanley, her handler. She hates him fiercely, and seems to be under the miltary's employ against her will. He keeps her drugged and otherwise constrained to protect himself from her powers, though he seems to have hightened skills of some kind as well. This issue, we see Hanley push Fierro into action, and her method of infiltration and assassination is chilling and scary; there's an internal monologue device Rand uses that I don't think completely works, but it does establish her disturbed mindset quite well.

The pacing here is fantastic, and the issue closes with a classic moment and a brilliant splash page from Ferreyra that really caps off an issue full of art that shows him continuing to grow and develop his style; there's an element of photorealism that sometimes makes me think of John Cassaday, but he's pushing his inking to be more impressionistic and shadowy, and his action scenes are getting more impressive with every issue. What drew me to the series initially was Rand's sense of dialogue, but lately Ferreyra's been a really big draw as well.

The jump from character to character as the series changes story arcs may throw off some readers, but I think it's really effective; what kept Peter Milligan's run on The Human Target so interesting wasn't the main character's personality disorder but the sweep across the world of characters Milligan wanted to explore through the perspective of the book itself, and Small Gods plays the same trick - just without the conceit of a voyeuristic central character. It's all about how the world would respond to a fundamental change in its own premise, and folks who enjoy that element of Y: The Last Man or The Walking Dead, but who are looking for a little more blood an' guts and more of an action movie approach to pacing, will find a lot to enjoy here. Intelligent, exciting comics.

Also, can I tell ya how much I love Trader Joe's? Everybody you meet seems to love it, but I've got a specific reason today: Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Garlic. Best frozen food I've ever eaten in my life; it totally saved the day this weekend when I ran out of fridge food. It even microwaves well - doesn't get soggy or gross or anything. My hat's off to whoever came up with this one.


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