With a renewed focus on Emmett Quinlan's motivations, GOD COUNTRY #6 approaches the epic final confrontation with care. Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw are at the top of their game with this over-the-top godly brawl, while its ending leaves behind a few shed tears.
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Image Comics has cornered the market with their fresh, new takes on modern science-fiction and fantasy. Since its first issue, GOD COUNTRY by Donny Cates has been an emotionally-driven epic following the adventures of Emmett Quinlan. Emmett suffered from severe Alzheimer’s disease, but an encounter with Valofax, the god of blades, cured his ailment. Throughout the course of the previous five issues, Emmett has reunited with a family he all but forgot and has tasted the true might of divine power. Emmett has killed gods with Valofax’s aid, and now he sets his sights on the King, Attum.

At its heart, GOD COUNTRY is a story about family, but more importantly, it stresses the importance of legacy. Issue #6 ends the critically acclaimed mini-series, but does the mythology it leaves behind warrant the same praise? Slight spoilers ahead for this universe-spanning climax.

READ: Interested in Image’s fantasy series? Then why aren’t you reading SEVEN TO ETERNITY by comics powerhouse Rick Remender?

GOD COUNTRY: Standing on God’s Mountain

God Country
Courtesy of Image Comics

GOD COUNTRY #5 ended on a cliffhanger. Having defeated Aristus, god of war, and killed Balegrim, god of death, Emmett transports himself to their crumbling kingdom. There, Attum sits, patiently biding his time to kill Emmett Quinlan. The fate of Earth lies on Emmett and Valofax’s shoulders. And in this one final battle, GOD COUNTRY got the conclusion it deserves.

The plot and dialogue in GOD COUNTRY #6 are nearly flawless. Donny Cates is in top form with this issue, dictating a battle that literally shakes heaven. From Emmett’s arrival on Attum’s planetoid to the eventual meeting between the two, the story beats reinforce the strength of human conviction. Emmett Quinlan will not surrender. He will die before giving up Valofax, before letting Attum win, and the mysterious narrator of the series dictates every thunderous clash of swords with scriptural rhetoric. Cates provides a powerful discussion on the very nature of the soul, carried on through the words of our descendants, and this parable is only amplified by the frenetic tone of the divine battle.

The one complaint about plotting that I can muster is that I simply wanted more. Issue #6 could have continued for 50 pages, and I would have devoured each and every one. As it stands, the 28 pages provided were simply not enough. The battle between Emmett and Attum felt compressed, meaning the emotional pay-out of the arrival of Owen, Emmett’s son and caretaker, felt somewhat underwhelming. It was an inherently intense and beautiful moment when Owen arrives to stand beside his father, but we got to the scene too quickly. Perhaps I simply didn’t want this epic to end, but it did feel like it was missing something.

Pen to Page, a Kinetic Battleground

While I tend to gravitate toward the clean lines popularized by comic icons like Jack Kirby, GOD COUNTRY carries a certain confidence with its purely energetic art style. Artist Geoff Shaw splashes each page with a bold, vibrant color palette that exposes even the quietest dialogue moments with intense life. Attum’s throne room is a cool silver-blue wash that is reminiscent of high science-fiction sleekness, while Attum’s design and purple color scheme echo the Kirby space gods of DC lore.

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Shaw’s linework is a vivid, kinetic mess of color and energy that echoes the intensity and godly might of these two combatants. While some of the anatomy displays minor visual glitches, this is by far Shaw’s best work in the series.

A Man and his Sword

God Country
Courtesy of Image Comics

This issue took the opportunity to dig into Emmett’s relationship with the godly blade, Valofax. At the beginning of the series, after a tornado destroys most of Emmett’s small southern town, Valofax chooses Emmett to be its wielder. For the first time, the reader understands why. Attum proclaims that Emmett is nothing in this issue, that he is a mere speck in the universe while Attum is its grand emperor. According to Attum, Emmett is a human with delusions of godhood. However, Cates shows that it is the human will to fight on. Emmett is willing to suffer great pain and still push onward. This is what drove Valofax into Emmett’s hands.

The characterization in this issue is by far some of the best in the series. Emmett’s crusade against these new gods has had little context until this battle. In the midst, he screams, “I’m not like you people! I ain’t no warrior or– or a god or nothing like that! I just want to remember my family!” Emmett suffered for years, watching as his dearest family members faded from his memory. Now, with a second chance, he wants to be a grandfather and a hero to his son. He doesn’t wish to be a burden, and his struggle to cling to Valofax becomes one of the most compelling aspects of this issue. That desire to be more human drives his entire battle for Valofax’s godly might.

READ: Trying to fill the void after GOD COUNTRY‘s end? Check out ComicsVerse’s thoughts on the new Image series SHIRTLESS BEAR FIGHTER!

Final Thoughts: GOD COUNTRY #6

Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw concluded Emmett Quinlan’s divine adventure with fireworks. The story isn’t wholly perfect, and it pulls away from the full possibilities of the final battle sequences. However, the renewed focus on Emmett’s motivations and the gorgeous artwork carry GOD COUNTRY to its proper conclusion. Cates has developed a plot that is equal parts frenetic maelstrom and tranquil characterization. That balance helps reinforce the true strengths of GOD COUNTRY as a whole.

Here’s some life advice. Go to your local comic store and pick up all six issues of this series. While the phrase is overused, GOD COUNTRY has a little bit of everything for every particular reader. In the end, this is a story about the power of stories, about the true strength of legacy. Continue Emmett Quinlan’s legacy.

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