COMIC REVIEW: God Hates Astronauts Issue #2

The story so far…is absolutely nuts! But in an entertaining and interesting way. The cover from issue #1 itself almost defies description. Farmers against NASA. A Casper-style ghost. A man with a flaming cow’s head and a cyber-eye. A chicken. The problem with this type of surrealism is it can feel affected and forced. Weird for weird sake.

So check this out. Issue #1 featured humanoids with crabs for heads, space-ships commanded by a race apparently called Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger (for obvious reasons) explosions in space, astro-farmers plotting against NASA (represented by lycra-clad bears), bestiality (but in a loving manner!), personality transference, a hero with a ghost cow’s head, hackneyed dialogue and characterisation (Space God, Power Persons Five, cosmo-chair, Baseball Hat Farmer and more), the expositionary ghost-like 3-D Cowboy, talking horses and terribly shocking language.

Welcome, then, to issue #2 of God Hates Astronauts. This batch of comic book insanity was written and drawn by Ryan Browne (The Manhattan Projects) with colours from Jordan Boyd (Umbral). They take us back to the 1970s of this weird universe with the help of 3-D Cowboy, and we’re introduced to a rhino humanoid called Dr. Professor (of course) who is joining NASA. Meanwhile, Buzz Owldrin and Seal Armstrong (you can see where we’re going here) are messing about on the Moon. With a pink crab and a golf club. Then the monstrous space crabs attack. Obviously.

Back to the present day and the oddest bunch of characters since Ordinary are popping up. The 3-armed Anti-Mugger called Dave is a major player. The town is called Shitsville. It’s not a nice place. 3-D Cowboy pops up regularly to talk directly to the reader. Dr. Professor is concerned with the crabs. The violence and gore is no-holds barred. Meanwhile, in Power Persons Five Tower, a destructive battle ensues.

Then an advert for Minternets pops up for a page. Before the story continues.

Which is clearly the issue behind a comic series such as God Hates Astronauts. The gags come thick and fast; some work well, others less so. The surrealism is bright and bold on every panel. The dialogue shines with wit and verve. The characters (and their names) often make you shake your smiling head in disbelief. All well and good, but in order for a comic book to be successful it also has to be interesting. There needs to be characters you care about and the story has to be, well, there.

I think Browne just about manages to balance these concerns. The plot itself is fairly typical – aliens threatening Earth, but I’ve not seen it done like this before; which means it is indeed interesting. You wonder where Browne is taking us next. Issue #2 doesn’t feature much of what occurred in issue #1 (the farmers and the tigers, for example), so he has provided the reader with a narrative expectation. The pace has dropped slightly from the first book, which is probably a good thing. Dr. Professor, the rhino-man, is the sympathetic character, the one who brings the reader into Browne’s universe. Despite many of these characters appearing to be overtly cartoony, some do have a little depth and for want of a better word, humanity.

Browne’s art has all the subtly of a spaceship full of bricks, but it suits the story. The characters are fantastically drawn, and with a mix of surreal imagination and grim reality (check out post-advert Gnarled Wilson for example). Everything is drawn and plotted for a reason, not just the fun of it (which I imagine Browne had while drawing it). Again, Boyd’s colouring isn’t exactly on the understated side. Bold pinks and greens clash regularly.

So God Hates Astronauts isn’t weird for weird sake. Browne and his cohorts have created a bonkers and witty comic with genuine interest. I’d suggest it is proper surreal, which has merit for that fact alone. Sure it’s not going to be for everyone’s tastes, but for most, there’ll be something to enjoy. The title page suggests that “it’s your book now, do what you will”. True, as long as you read it.

Title: God Hates Astronauts Issue #2

Publisher: Image

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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