Goddess Mode #1 – Zoe Quinn, Writer; Robbi Rodriguez, Artist; Rico Renzi, Coloristay –
Corrina: Intriguing Beginning
Ray: So far, the new Vertigo titles have been a mix of strong concepts unlike anything else on the stands. That definitely continues with Goddess Mode #1, a surreal new series from video game developer and first-time comic writer Zoe Quinn and Spider-Gwen co-creator Robbi Rodriguez.
A new Rodriguez comic is cause for celebration in itself, due to the fact that many people expected that book would be his swan song due to ongoing issues with his eyes. But Goddess Mode is a complex book that’s highly ambitious from page one, as our heroine battles monsters in some sort of cyber-space. After, that, we flash back to the real world, where we’re filled in on Tucker Brady, Hermeticorp, and something called Azoth, the Godlike AI that rules the world. Cassandra Price, a young woman desperate to save her father who is comatose from something called Tucker Brady Syndrome, breaks protocol to help her father, and all hell breaks loose.
There’s a lot of scenes in this issue that feel like you’re reading a second or third issue. It’s not easy to find characters’ names, and at times characters are introduced with absolutely no preamble as to their role or how people know each other. Quinn’s writing, while the dialogue is strong, often feels like stumbling onto half a conversation. The bright spot? Rodriguez’s art is solid gold as always. He shifts perfectly from dark and gritty to bright and surreal. But I’m a believer that not even the best art can save a comic that doesn’t work, and based on this first issue I’m not sure the world that’s being built here stands up to scrutiny. By the end, Cassandra has uncovered a whole new world within Azoth and encountered beings inside that may or may not be real. It’s a great looking comic, but it’s also an empty one. A comic by a first-time comic writer is always a toss-up, and this one did nothing for me.
Corrina: Goddess Mode #1 does suffer a bit from having to set up a complex world but it’s an intriguing, fascinating world, with a protagonist who promises to be one that can carry the story. I certainly wouldn’t rate it as low as Ray did and I have a feeling that once this first arc is collected in trade, this issue will look better and better. (Much like Omega Men seemed confusing at first but turned into a unique and amazing story.) This kind of beginning can be a problem with all the Vertigo titles, which tend to read better in trade collections than single issues. That’s why I tend to have patience with them.
But, with just this issue available, I would recommend Goddess Mode. There’s just enough characterization of Cassandra–her worry for her father, her possible depression, her hacking skills–for me to worry about what happens to her. Quinn has also introduced the over-arching mystery of what caused Tucker Brady Syndrome. There’s also the glimmer of a theme about how virtual reality allows people to become their best or worst selves, and that’s definitely a theme worth exploring as well. Looking forward to how it all develops.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.