Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review - God Hates Astronauts #1


"Uh, please don't have sex with that chicken."

It's wholly possible that animals are secretly plotting to overthrow humanity and take over the world. If and when that day comes, humanity can only hope it's ready to handle the onslaught. Chances are that readiness will involve a military response and some groups with more of a religious bent to things. Like farmers seeking to escape into space with their chickens while animal space police attempt to stop them, as in God Hates Astronauts #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Ryan Browne, colored by Jordan Boyd and lettered by Crank! and Browne.

A NASA funded group of arrogant "super people" must stop a rash of farmers that have been using rocket-powered silos to launch themselves into outer space. As these Astro-Farmers fire themselves all over the galaxy, NASA must utilize their every resource they can muster. This includes a guy with a ghost-cow head, a bunch of magic bears and a Chicago cop with robot arms to avoid an intergalactic incident. Mix in a king fond of cheeseburgers overseeing the galaxy and it's a good bet that hijinks are sure to ensue.

You've got to hand it to Browne: he's extraordinarily unapologetic about his tale. In fact, the story in God Hates Astronauts #1 comes across as so ridiculous that you can't help but think he's toying with the readers, writing so outlandishly for the sake of his own amusement. Once you get past the absurdity though, it's evident that he's actually crafting a pretty intriguing story. The most glaring feature of the book is the anthropomorphic characters with a flair for intergalactic travels and a dialogue that's one-part philosophical and one-part matter of fact. There's going to be comparisons to Animal Farm, but Browne's characters have a different focus than the farm rulers from that book. Browne infuses them with seemingly more intelligence than the rubish farmers attempting to propel themselves into space, but also offering them as an elegant representation of a distinguished class system.

Illustrating animals as humans is no small feat, but Browne handles it very well. Each of the main characters are illustrated in a way that accurately depicts their personality. Those personalities are further enhanced by some pretty remarkable facial expressions that really nail the mood of the action on the page. He keeps the panel layouts pretty fresh from page to page, using standard grids for most pages, but also mixing in some non-paneled characters and panel overlays here and there. Boyd's colors are very vibrant and gives the book a sufficiently cosmic feel reminiscent of the 80s Marvel books. Even Browne's lettering deserves mention, as it rather comically calls out the action in a way that reinforces the hilarity of the events.

God Hates Astronauts #1 is a pretty bold romp across farms and space. The farmers think they're part of a greater power and seek perfection, while the animals think they're just crazy. It's a very interesting reversal of the norm that Browne manages to make feel entertaining, thanks to witty dialogue and outlandish scenarios. Browne's art deftly conveys the madcap action to the reader, offering well-defined characters full of emotion and personality. God Hates Astronauts #1 is a book that's just so crazy it might work and will definitely be unlike anything else you read.

God Hates Astronauts #1 is in stores now with interiors below.





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