Jonathan Hickman & Valerio Schiti continue to redefine the Marvel Cosmology! The Centum normally has twenty-five Primes, now only three remain. College isn't worth the time or the money. There's a hidden book in the hidden library that hides a hidden door. Kubisk Core is from Georgia, like that matters.
Magic and science are often set in a rigid dichotomy, with the former associating itself with emotion, chaos, and a primordial sense of power. The latter is all about imposing order on the universe, living in the organic occurrences of a system that is filled with a sterile approach. Like any dichotomy, the breaking of barriers in just the right way can create a blending that makes for a subversion and innovative story that hooks the reader. With its second issue, G.O.D.S. starts to twist and push against the rigid dichotomy of science and magic to tell a story of systems and their relationship to the people living inside them.
G.O.D.S. #2 – written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Valerio Schiti, colors by Marte Gracia, and letters by VC’s Travis Lanham – continues on its mission to revitalize the Marvel cosmology through a street-level lens, this time by bringing in a new character, Mia, as she is thrust into the dichotomy of the Powers-That-Be (magic) and the Natural-Order-of-Things (science). Mia is a young student at Columbia trying her best to keep her head above water and carries a spark of magic within her. Aiko appears to her and leads her into the Library of Worlds, opening her eyes to the world hiding just beyond the shelves of academia.
While Aiko tries to recruit Mia to the world of magic, Wyn and Doctor Strange investigate the last issue’s villain, Cubisk Core, trying to learn more about the proto-mage’s drive. A revelation spell shows the twisted visage of the man, and sends him spiraling back to a magical artifact, the Skinner Box, which is used by cosmic beings to reprogram minds. Cube regards this as home, and Strange can ascertain it belongs to another figure in the Marvel cosmic pantheon, The In-Betweener. By the end of the story, Cube has been understood a bit more as Mia makes her jump into the world of magic, bringing the lines between the two fundamental forces a bit closer.
Hickman’s scripting for this issue delivers yet another dense, mythological tale wrapped in the inherently human. Rather than binding the story to the tragic romance of Wyn and Aiko, Mia’s fears and desire work to ground this issue, letting her choice serve as the fulcrum of the dramatic core. In a bit of subversion, Aiko is the one who appeals to the romantic flair of what magic and science can represent, moving her away from the typical connotation of science being cold and sterile. Instead, Hickman carries over the bleeding heart nature of the scientist and gives it an interesting angle to play against the jaded, driven personality of Mia.
On the other side the scripting, the tit-for-tat between Wyn, Strange, and Dmitri is sharper, showing the edge that magic and science walk around one another. When the other mages of the Marvel Universe, Doctor Voodoo, Clea, and Wong leave during the Cubsik Core investigation, Dmitri snarks about no loyalty among magic users. Strange doesn’t give it a moment to sink in, as he refutes the claim explaining the expected nature of magic being a path walked alone, with friends or allies. It’s a short but powerful beat that establishes a core difference between the two factions of this cosmology. Hickman utilizes the micro-moments to express the macro expressions of plot and worldbuilding, making it come off as organic.
Much of the organic feeling of this book is in Schiti’s artwork, which thrives in the depiction of both magic and science. The Library of Worlds is a living thing in the pages of this issue, brimming with an energy of potential that puts the audience on the same level as Mia. Even after seeing it multiple times in the last issue, it’s still a marvel to experience throughout this installment. Schiti’s linework gives it an organic feeling, with the whirlwind of people, plants, and creatures, always in a state of movement. That sense of lively energy stands in sharp contrast to the dull, oppressive imagery of Columbia’s library which should be a gateway for Mia, but instead serves as a prison.
Schiti carries that raw, potential energy over and into the magical aspect of this issue, providing multiple opportunities for spells and enchantments to shine. The spells of Strange and the other mages are few but powerful, creating rippling effects that give a spectral quality to the magic. It feels of this world but still ethereal, proving just how well Schiti understands how to render these conceptual expressions of will against reality. Aiko describes Mia’s first flashes of magic as bending the universe to her whims, and Schiti manages to create an image that makes that description feel in place.
The magic of this issue, like the previous, is enriched by Gracia’s colors, which give a palette of whimsy and scale to the story. The palette of this book is awe-inspiring, traipsing between the dark shadows of the library and warehouse containing the Skinner Box, to the bright, shining tones of the Library of Worlds and the House of Rank and Numbers. The palette contains a series of multitudes that evoke that range between science and magic, showcasing the scale of the world the story exists in. Even as the book illustrates these thematically rich colors, it never loses sight of creating strong accent colors for its characters, like the stark whites of Aiko and the warmer, bright red of Wyn and Mia. There’s a pattern of color to the two factions of the universe, and the subtle pushes into one another create a strong sense of balance.
G.O.D.S. #2 continues to function as a reinvention of the Marvel cosmic pantheon by exploring the concrete, human element of the shared universe. The last issue used a doomed romance as its way into this world of high-flying concepts and warring fundamental elements, and this time, Hickman highlights the insatiable nature of the smart and curious to drive the plot forward. Paired with Schiti’s bombastic, energetic art that gives a deeper sense of life on every page, the book thrives in its human approach to these cosmic elements. Garcia’s coloring matches the magic and emotion, creating a rich cohesion between the two warring factions. This is an excellent follow-up issue that again shows the breadth of talent behind the story, offering some of the most interesting ideas at Marvel at the moment.
G.O.D.S. #2: Worth the Squeeze
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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