A God Somewhere
Written by John Arcudi
Illustrated by Peter Snejbjerg
Colored by Bjarne Hansen
Lettered by Wes Abbott
Published by DC/Wildstorm
You, like all of us, have probably occasionally wondered what it would be like to have superpowers. I certainly have. It seems like it would be fun, maybe even heroic. Of course, then I think more about it and realize that we all have our own personal biases in life, about driving habits (oh, to heat vision the tires of some of those New Jersey drivers!) or food or politics or religion, and really – superpowers seem like a very bad idea. How many people are really that altruistic in real life?
John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg apparently think like I do. Their new graphic novel, A God Somewhere, tell readers of Eric Forster, a young man mysteriously bestowed with amazing powers. With Eric becoming something more than human, Arcudi wisely frames the story through the perspective of Eric’s best friend Sam, along with Eric’s brother Hugh and sister-in-law Alma.
To avoid a book about Eric’s powers and their origins, Arcudi never attempts to explain exactly how Eric became a god. There was an explosion, and Eric simply was. For Hugh and Alma, and particularly for Sam, Eric’s transformation brings each of their lives into focus, but also forces them to act as a final touchstone to Eric’s lost normalcy.
Arcudi establishes via multiple flashbacks that Eric possesses a swaggering arrogance, and that he believes most people are sheep, thoughtless, docile and perhaps irrelevant. Yet Arcudi presents him as such an affable and pleasant character that you almost miss his dismissal of others. Then, after the accident, he slips in that comparison between himself and Jesus Christ. Disconnected from the world around him, Eric grows farther with each passing hour, seeing people are irrelevant, akin to animals, and himself as a messiah.
Arcudi touches sensitively upon Sam’s being black, further underscoring the divisions among humanity. The tension Sam experiences for having white friends, or the disconnect between Sam’s experience with race versus Eric’s experience with race, echo the themes of Eric’s detachment from those around him. The scene also exhibits Arcudi’s keen understanding of the complex and subtle issues surrounding race.
A God Somewhere looks fantastic, as most anything graced by Peter Snejbjerg’s artwork would. Panel-to-panel progressions, detailed backgrounds, strong use of blacks, Snejbjerg has a strong understanding of all the basics of comic book storytelling, and his dynamic framing keeps even the quietest scenes engaging. The explosive scenes are almost too graphic to look at, particularly when Eric quite literally treats a soldier like an insect beneath a boot heel. It’s powerful work.
Superheroes in reality is a worn-down horse, but few writers bring emotional heft to the idea like John Arcudi manages in A God Somewhere. Marry a superior comics artist to a creative and surprising script, and you can’t help but end up with a winning book. A God Somewhere is bleak, but it’s also honest and emotionally true. And it’s well worth a read.