Review: DREAD GODS #1

Written by Ron Marz
Art by Tom Raney, Nanjan Jamberi, and Dave Lanphear
Published by IDW Publishing/Ominous Press
Release Date: July 12, 2017

Dread Gods #1 is the first installment of three limited series from Ominous Press, a new publishing partnership with IDW. The goal of these introductory series from Ominous Press is to introduce exciting adventure comics and science fiction epics. While Dread Gods #1 may fit the bill for a very specific audience, the first Issue is not the hook that will reel in a new, diversified readership.

Dread Gods is written by Ron Marz, also the Editor-In-Chief for the new Ominous Press, so it’s safe to assume that this book fits the tone and expectations for the series. This issue, though well-written and, for the most part, easy to follow, does not feel fresh or new. The “remix on Greek and Roman Gods” is becoming its own category of literature, so even though this series has some interesting ideas, it does not feel innovative.

Dread Gods #1 has some classic action adventure vibes, which seems to be what they promised for this series, but without enough new ideas or a strong first issue, this new series might not have the elements that sets it apart from the other #1’s on the rack this week.

The art is on a similar note as the story-craft for this issue. Longtime comic fans will recognize Tom Raney’s art from his super-hero days, and his style carries over well to this type of classic action-adventure series. He particularly excels in the design of gods and monsters (and something in between), and the art makes the action and battle easy to read.

Blur effects combined with well-utilized open space and distinct areas of action keep things moving along smoothly. The more modern character style, with larger heads, over pronounced features, and detailed expressions fits the reality show theme of the book, while also creating a striking juxtaposition between the world of the gods and the post-apocalyptic nightmare of the mortals.

Nanjan Jamberi, the color artist for this series, brings a fresh perspective to this book that elevates the content. The contrast in color story between the realms of gods and mortals helps readers differentiate between settings and tones, even when the movement of the plot becomes more difficult to follow. The tone set by the chosen color palettes makes it clear that we are seeing two interconnected, contrasting realms.

Dave Lanphear, of A Larger World Studios, is on the lettering work for this series. There are some fun elements there as well, with bright colors, font changes, and SFX that POP! (Get it?). There isn’t much dead space, but the balloons also don’t interfere with the action, so it’s a great balance.

This comic also hits a low note in character representation. The concept of Greek or Roman gods in the modern world tends to be overwhelmingly white, and this book is no exception. The only characters who appear to have darker skin are Hades (who mostly seems grey) and a character from the real world, who is presented as having a disability and an implied addiction to the “plug in” technology.

Neither of these characters read as positive representation of persons of color, and all the implied “heroes” are white (along with all the background characters.) I hope this balance is better executed in future issues.

Overall, this is an OK comic for what seems like a very specific audience. It has some He-Man vibes that carry through the action, but the juxtaposition of the post-apocalyptic world outside the realm of the gods feels disjointed from the rest of the story. Maybe the real hook is in the second issue, but with such a limited series that’s a risk for new readers.

This series has started off on a somewhat confusing note, and with a lack of information, positive representation, and innovation, this ends up being another semi-decent action comic.

The Verdict: 4.0/10



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