Dread Gods #1

Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Tom Raney
Colorist: Nanjan Jamberi
Letterer: A Larger World Studios’ Dave Lanphear
Publisher: Ominous Press & IDW
Created by Bart Sears

A review by Christoph Staffl

Let me start this review with a quote from the press release:

“Ominous Press launches with the first of three limited series set in a science-fiction/fantasy universe of epic heroes and insidious villains. In DREAD GODS, gods in a fantasy world discover they’re actually monsters in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Acclaimed creators Ron Marz and Tom Raney join with art master Bart Sears to usher in adventure like no other!”

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? So, with the relaunch of Ominous Press we get three, 4-issue limited series. Each one those is said to be independent from one another, just with some tiny connections here and there. The three limited series are: Demi-God, Giantkillers , and, of course, Dread Gods.

To tell an intriguing story with overpowered characters is very challenging. And it is even more difficult, if those overpowered characters are gods – Greek Gods to be specific. What stories are you going to tell about them? They have everything. What are their goals? Which opponents are you going to throw against Zeus? Who can challenge the King of Gods himself? This is one of the big problems I have with this first issue, but let’s start at the beginning.

We are introduced to an post-apocalyptic world. Sustenance is rare and the living situation is anything but good. One thing the people of this world can enjoy and which lets them forget their despair are events they can watch. To do this, they have to connect with a kind of media cube. This device is placed in centre of the city and provides cables, which the people have to connect themselves to. It reminded me of Matrix – a bit at least. They cannot participate in those shows or fights, after all. I am not even sure what those cables are good for, but I guess they enhance the viewing experience, so it is more immersive.

Our main, disabled character Carver seems to have an interesting story. We meet him, as he makes his way to the media cube and fights for one of the last cables there. I wanted to know what has happened to him? What happened to this world? Why are those media cubes there? Who is responsible for the technology? And so on. Unfortunately none of those questions are answered. Instead we watch the show Carver is presented: A fight between Zeus and Hydra.

This part of the story could be interesting, if our main protagonist wouldn’t be Zeus. You cannot tell a story from his point of view. For me that doesn’t work. Just read some of the stories in greek mythology where he appears. He is a bastard. He does what he wants, he doesn’t care about others, and sleeps with everyone and everything he can get. Then Hades comes around and throws the Hydra against him. And then there is a fight, which looks epic, it really does, but there is no emotion in there. The authors didn’t give me any reason why I should root for Zeus or Hades or Hydra or anyone else for that matter. There is a missed opportunity there. I just needed one thing, why it is important for me, as a reader, that Zeus wins. Why does he fight against Hades? I don’t know the rules of this world, you have to show me. The way it is presented here, it just seemed they fight against each other, because they can.

The only relatable character is Carver, and he just frames the story. I will read the second issue, because I want to know what happens to this poor guy. What role does he play in all of this?

I don’t want to end this review on such a negative note. So let’s talk about two things:
First of all I liked the design of the gods. The artist gave them a modern touch, but kept the traditional looks, which is a cool combination. And they have some kind of battle mode. Zeus for example gets two more arms, as it is shown on the variant covers of the first issue. For the gods to have these powers seems right and transformations match the personalities and powers they have. Also, the structure of the panels is great and the design of the post-apocalyptic world, where Carvers story takes place, feels horrifying.
Second: In the review copy of this issue, there was a Preview of Giantkillers and I am looking forward to reading this series. It looks great and the story seems much more promising than Dread Gods. More personal and it’s a completely different world.

The Verdict
Wait and See? I am not that sure about the verdict, to be honest. As I said, Carver looks like a promising character but we don’t get a lot of information about him in this issue. The gods could be fun, but there is not a lot there either, besides the fights. What intrigues me the most is to witness the birth of a new universe and that these series’ are limited to four issues.

Christoph Staffl

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