Sunday, 3 March 2013


Supergod is the story of the end of the world.

The story is told in flashbacks by a scientist as he sits and watches London burning around him. If you’re thinking that that’s a very Warren Ellis image you’re right. Ellis wrote Supergod (not to be confused with Grant Morrison’s exploration of the superhuman condition that bears an incredibly similar name) to try and explore one of his pet notions: science turning humans into gods. Of course Ellis makes the notion far more literal in Supergod than it is in reality.

Through the flashbacks of the unnamed professor we are told the story of a superhuman arms race. Three Britons went out into space (Britain in space, another one of Ellis’s favoured ideas) and came back having been fused into one being by a space fungus. It sounds far more wacky and out-there than it actually is. On the illustrated page it has its own quiet logic that prevents it from becoming ridiculous. This fungus being is dubbed Morrigan Lugus and becomes the first of the “real life” deities to spring up in the story.

As the story continues we are introduced to further gods. Russia, Iran, the United States, China, and India are among the countries who undertake research into superhuman augmentation, unaware that their experiments will eventually lead to the end of the world. We are told and shown how each of these gods came about, how they interacted with one another and how they reacted to their own existences. Ellis handles the careful balancing act remarkably well.

You get the feeling when reading Supergod that Ellis wanted his writing to make people think about the nature of religion and perhaps the relationship comic book fans have with their treasured characters. If that is what he wanted he let himself down. The book’s enjoyable but it’s nowhere near weighty enough to tackle such large concepts with any degree of merit. It’s interesting which country and religion Ellis has survive his god-holocaust (I shan’t spoil it for you here) and hints at the his feelings on the spiritual future of the planet, but it does nothing more.

Where Supergod succeeds is in the fight scenes. Or perhaps that’s just me being shallow. Whatever the case the book comes to life when two of Ellis’s meet up for a rumble, not when the theological musing kicks in. It’s inevitable with a title like this. If you say you’re going to write a comic about what would happen if science created beings with god-like powers then obviously the fights are going to be the most enjoyable bits.

On art duty is Garrie Gastonny. I’ve not come across his work before or since but he handles the visuals with skill. Shots of ruined cities can often be a bit iffy, but thankfully the important things (the supergods) are very well designed and consistently drawn. Among the highlights are a mechanoid cosmonaut, Morrigan Lugus, and a Cthulhu-like giant made of flesh.

The story of the world’s end is well constructed. The plot is never overwhelming but it’s inventive enough to hold your attention in between fight scenes. Perhaps the greatest complement I can pay the book is that I care about the world and wish more had been shown of it. It’s a pity Ellis limited himself to a five issue run. Had this had double that, or perhaps more, then it could really have been something special.

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