BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Eric Forster learns to deal (or not) with his newfound god-like powers.
PROS: Gripping story of how one man copes with his sudden super abilities.
CONS: The story oversteps Eric’s descent into darkness.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a superhero story possessing an initial optimistic veneer but ultimately rooted in tragedy.
What would you do if you were suddenly granted god-like superpowers? That’s the question examined by A God Somewhere, a powerful graphic novel about slacker Eric Forster who survives a mysterious explosion that leaves him with seemingly omnipotent powers.
Eric’s sudden realization of his abilities inspires him to do heroic deeds: helping rescue workers, stopping crime…the usual tasks one would expect of a superhero. It initially seems like Eric might be a force for good, but he becomes increasingly alienated…not just by the media and the public who want to know more about him, but also by his longtime friend (Sam, a major point-of-view character who has no problem reaping the towards of his friend’s celebrity status) and his brother Hugh (who seems the more responsible of the two, having settled down with his wife, Alama). As Eric’s loneliness grows, he questions why men are worthy of his help at all and the story takes a smooth and steep turn towards much darker themes.
It’s an interesting transition to watch and Peter Snejbjerg’s often-gruesome depictions and Bjarne Hansen’s accompanying stark colors bring John Arcudi’s convincing story to vivid life. Arcudi puts Eric in the Christ-figure mold, even going as far placing Eric in the clouds in a crucifixion pose. At first you root for Eric, who seems to want to do good, even when he shows signs of contempt when he senses the fear of those around him. But there is a clear point in the story where he goes over the edge and you realize that Eric is not a benevolent force at all, but a force to be reckoned with – and quickly.
There are other elements layered into the story as well. It mixes in racial issues, as seen through Sam and Alma , who are black, and also dramatic tension, as seen through Sam’s affections for his friend’s brother’s wife. (Much of this is portrayed through flashback sequences.) These added dimensions not only lend the story more weight, they also serve to flesh out the characters in a believable way.
If there’s any shortcoming, it’s in the absence of explanation; not so much as the reason for Eric’s miracle gift, which isn’t really the point of the story, but in Eric’s transition. More specifically, at the clearly-defined point of Eric’s turn, no motivation was given for his inexcusable act. Did he just snap? His descent was steep, sure, but this just seemed too far a leap. The only pressure put on Eric was one of celebrity, and that does not seem so insurmountable, and surely not something that would alone drive someone to psychosis.
But the descent itself is still quite captivating to watch. A God Somewhere is the kind of superhero tale that’s presented with an initial optimistic veneer but ultimately rooted in tragedy.