Supergod: The Postmodern Prometheus

“I will pretend it’s a weapon, a defensive capability, a computing object or a construction machine – but really it is a Messiah.

But the Messiah, remember, is a very naughty boy.”  – Warren Ellis on Supergod

Supergod_#002_000cOne of the great things about comic books is that they are such a natural fit for big ideas. On the pages of a comic book, ‘larger-than-life’ is the norm rather than the exception. Most characters in comics are people with unimaginable powers who routinely decide the fate of the entire planet. This has allowed for some great stories that we probably would not have seen in other media.

Warren Ellis, the writer of ‘Supergod’, is no stranger to big ideas. In his decades-long career as a comic book writer, he has challenged and entertained the readers with one amazing idea after another. Along with artist Bryan Hitch, Ellis introduced the comic-reading public to ‘big-screen’ comics with The Authority. His work on comics like Stormwatch, Planetary, Marvel’s Newuniversal, and Global Frequency just to name a few, has been hugely impressive in scale and innovation. Ellis brings those same sensibilities to Supergod.

‘Supergod’ is a five issue mini-series published by Avatar Press. The comic deals with a seemingly simple question: ‘What would happen if mankind had the means and the arrogance to create genetically engineered godlike beings?’ Ellis takes this premise and uses it to explore themes like religion, science, the international arms race and the apocalypse.

In Supergod, the powerful nations of the world and the so-called ‘rogue states’ have all been secretly working on creating super-beings. Nations like India, England, The US, Russia, Iran, Iraq, China, Venezuela and Somalia all have secret government funded projects to engineer or program beings with extraordinary powers. The goal of these projects was noble enough, namely national security and providing solutions to national disasters. However, things start going horribly wrong the moment these beings gain consciousness. Most of them have minds that think in a way that is completely alien to human beings; and pretty destructive too. These higher beings treat humans as insects and tools. Entire populations become dust in the clash of gods walking the planet.

Each of the super-beings is patterned after a god or godlike being of that nation’s prevalent faith. Things start off with Morrigan Lugas,Supergods the Space-Jesus Mushroom God of Great Britain, who is named after Morrigan and Lugas, two Celtic three-headed deities. Then we are shown Krishna from India, Maitreya from China, Malak-al-maut from Iran (named after the Islamic angel of death), Dajjal from Iraq (after the Islamic antichrist), the Russian Perun and the American Jerry Craven. The last one is interesting in that he is not modeled after a being from ancient scripture, rather the more modern myth of the ‘All-American Hero.’