Posted on September 1, 2009 by Flames
Published by Orang Utan Comics
Writer: Ian Sharman
Pencils & Inks: Ezequiel Pineda
Colours: Mauro Barbosa
Cover: John Charles
In a world where those with special powers are looked down upon and hunted, a secret team is brought together to protect it from the machinations of fallen angels and their children. From a noble cyborg warrior to a jumpy raver girl with electrical powers, they are brought in by a mysterious stranger and have to save a world that wouldn’t save them.
The graphic novel is a collection of short stories, introducing a reader to the universe of Alpha Gods. It is a world of magic and mutants, with sinister demons lurking in the shadows and with human beings developing strange powers. Called Extra Humans or Ex-Hus for short, the world knows they exist and has a largely negative view of them. The Alpha Gods try to protect the innocent ones while they struggle against a sinister corporation known as Grigori Enterprises that is performing experiments that will aid their demonic masters, the Nephilim.
While at first glance it appears to be just a bound collection of short stories, Alpha Gods brings the reader in by not trying to haphazardly reveal each character’s origin over the course of a single issue. Each chapter explains an important aspect of the Alpha Gods universe, whether it is showing how the shape-shifter Outrage joined the team or by revealing the truth behind Grigori Enterprises power.
The artwork also keeps up with the pace of the story. There are no filler pages of mindless combat, and each character’s movements and abilities are neatly defined in such a small space. Throughout fifty one pages the team is introduced and brought together, and their goal is defined. In practical terms, the characters are brought together in the span of two issues.
However, this approach does have its downfall. After the opening fight scene the next two chapters did not flow smoothly, as they seemed to rush to finish their stories in a short amount of time. While having a graphic novel start In Media Res can help reduce the amount of time devoted to building up the story, it felt like either to much of the Alpha Gods mythos was revealed, and it undercut the surprise of the Nephilim. While knowing who the villains are is important to the story, knowing that the Alpha Gods must stop such powerful foes takes away some of the suspense.
Each character feels realistic despite their setting. We briefly get to look into each hero’s life, and the writing brings out their unique quirks. While they are Ex-hus, they still act and behave like humans rather than constantly being portrayed as valiant knights or brooding anti-heroes. Paladin has a code of honor that he wrestles with when he goes on covert missions, and Revenant comes across as a cynical and somewhat sleazy kind of guy but appears to have a heart of gold when he sees a damsel in distress.
The reason for powers in this world is never explained. The team is composed of different people whose powers are either magical or a mutation. Their primary foes are human soldiers and fallen angels, but they appear to be working on genetic engineering. Of course, this is a trivial point when compared to the major comic book lines who have teams just as diverse, but the term Extra Human is never fully explained or shown when it emerged in this universe. More history about the world would help make it more vibrant and stand out from other comic book lines.
While Alpha Gods appears like something a comic book fan has seen before, it has great potential to expand. The graphic novel brings everything together as much as it can, and while it does not flow as neatly as it could have it still brings an interesting group of characters together. The team feel like they come together naturally and provide a nice balance of powers.
Review by John D. Kennedy