‘God Complex: Volume One’ - Trade Paperback Review

God Complex is a neo-noir mystery that plays fast and loose with a blend of sci-fi elements and a complex dive into Greek mythology. Bryan Lie is credited as the creator and designer on the book, though it’s written by Paul Jenkins and illustrated by Hendry Prasetya. The first volume aptly titled Vol. 1: Dogma just released, and it collects the first six issues of God Complex with your typical concept art back pages.

The first thing you will notice about God Complex is that it looks pretty good. The art style is reminiscent of the late '90s cyberpunk-obsessed Matrix craze in all of its dark glory. This presentation might not be for everyone, but if you look back at late '90s culture with more than ironic nostalgia, you will likely appreciate the art in this book. There is a lot of green and lots of lasers. Some of the imagery seems to be drawing from Japanese influence, as parts of the book are clearly anime-inspired in both framing and content.  

The second thing you will notice about God Complex is how it mashes together a bunch of existing ideas into one big, neon-glowing, cyber-monster idea. What if the protagonist of Blade Runner and Cowboy Bebop fused in a Sin City world while following the tentative plot structure of Robocop, The Matrix, and God Of War? That’s not to say any of these ideas are bad. Also, it’s not to say that blending elements of different properties to make something new is bad. (I like Quentin Tarantino.)

Unfortunately, in God Complex, you can feel the story elements and influences sitting at odds with one another. It’s distracting. You’re constantly asking yourself, “Is this section really important? And if not, why is it here?”

The premise is about as complex as the issues it brings forth. In the futuristic city of Delphi, there is a fraction of the population called “Rulers” who are, simply put, Greek gods. You will meet characters named Apollo, Hermes, and Athena. They can do cool things like “ride the stream.” As far as I can tell, the stream is a kind of laser grid hangout spot, much like Tron or wherever The Lawnmower Man goes. There is another faction of society called Trinity Church that believes in something called “the one god.” Rulers and the Trinity Church don’t like each other. There is also a rebel faction called the coup. Then, somewhere in this crazy place, regular people live and go to work, but we don’t see much of them.  Maybe we should have! I would have greatly appreciated someone figuratively holding my hand through the vibe of this crazy place.

Seneca is the main character. He is a digital forensics investigator. He walks around with a resting melancholy face and quite frankly does not give a heck. If I was asked to describe his personality, I would jump at the chance to yell, "Brooding!" This should work for a noir story. It certainly worked for Neo; however, I don’t buy Seneca’s emo-bad-itude, because I don’t know what this cyber-boy is so upset about. For the first three issues, I didn’t really understand what his (or the world’s) deal was.

A possible reason for Seneca’s infinite sadness can be seen in two frames of a flashback. The first frame shows a woman (presumably his mother, though it isn’t clear) in a hospital bed, and the other shows religious people standing around him as a child. Did she die? Did this cause him to break away from the church? Did the church murder her? It looks like they were there trying to help. Is this why he compulsively sucks on lollipops? Are lollipops like cigarettes in the future? Is this the future? Is this another planet or alternate earth timeline? My nose is bleeding profusely. Am I the stream?

Around issue four, the story takes off in a big, bad way.  It’s a very slow start to an otherwise decent revenge plot.

God Complex is published by Top Cow Productions, an imprint of Image Comics. They are known for producing books based on video games and existing animation, so that should be more than enough information going in. Expect dark themes, irreverent humor, and self-serious diatribes about the existential crisis of a beautiful cyber-boy trying to find his cyber-way.


Creative Team: Bryan Lie (creator/designer), Paul Jenkins (writer), Hendry Prasetya (art), Sunny Gho (colors), Jessica Kholline (colors), Jaka Ady (letters)

Publisher: Image / Top Cow
Click here to purchase.


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