Adding a human drama to this larger-than-life tale of gods and men makes this work truly something special.
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Deserves to be Remembered

People want to be remembered. They want to have a legacy that’s passed down from generation to generation. If people remember your story, you never truly die. You live on as a myth, a legend. This type of story telling appears at the heart of  the complete collection of GOD COUNTRY by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw. When you no longer remember what made you, you, who will continue to tell your story?

GOD COUNTRY or, The Right to Remember

The story of GOD COUNTRY reads as fairly straightforward. Emmit Quinlan suffers from Alzheimer’s. As a result, his family finds themselves straining to take care of him despite his difficult behavior. Just when they think they can no longer provide for Emmit, a godsend arrives in the form of a sword. This sword, Valofax, magically cures his Alzheimer’s and allows Emmit to protect his family from divine entities who threaten to harm them. Now that he has his memories back, he’ll stop at nothing to remain a part of his family. Even if he has to kill a god.

READ: Unsure about starting the series? Check out our review of GOD COUNTRY #1!

I love this simple set up. For all of the lofty ideas of gods that technically resides within this comic, in the end, it’s really about this man’s relationship to his family. Once he remembers them, he’s desperate to keep them in his life — no matter what. Of course, this proves rather difficult as the king of the gods gets angry when Emmit does not immediately relinquish the sword the god king had foraged. Even the framing device plays into this concept of memory and how desperate we all are to hold onto it. The comic is told by someone who’s heard this story passed down for generations. Even though Emmit himself could never have repeated this story if he remained alive, his legacy lives on. What’s more, even the comic itself reads as a memory. It’s dedicated to the writer’s father, really bringing home the theme of legacy quite well.

Image courtesy of Image Comics

Family Looks After Family

I can’t imagine what it’s like to live with a family member who has Alzheimer’s. The pain a person must feel when someone they love no longer remembers their face can never be downplayed. Yet, I can empathize with seeing a person’s hero slowly deteriorate before their eyes. Like revealing the man behind the curtain in THE WIZARD OF OZ, it’s heartbreaking to watch your parents slowly dissolve.

READ: Need to hear our thoughts on the last issue of GOD COUNTRY? Our review is here!

Then to suddenly get some hope that they might recover from an otherwise incurable disease, it’s no wonder Emmit takes the opportunity he does to stay with his family. If I could heal my own family, I know I would without a second thought. Adding this real drama to a fantasy story makes the characters feel human immediately. I felt for Emmit’s son and daughter-in-law as they want to care for him yet do not know how. It just adds a layer of depth that really elevates the story’s greatness in my eyes.

Image courtesy of Image Comics

Imagining a Fantasy

It took me a while to get into the art style. Geoff Shaw’s art is by no means bad. By every definition, he’s mastered creating backgrounds and human forms, yet GOD COUNTRY looks unlike any comic I’ve read recently. This at first felt off-putting to me. The general look of it made it hard for me to get into right away but once I did, I became hooked. It’s unique, even in the angles taken to show the arid land of Texas. While none of these detract from the comic, it made it difficult for me to immediately jump on board with the issue. Even though the story of a man fighting for his family has been around since time immemorial, the art brings a whole new life to this tried and true tale.

GOD COUNTRY exemplifies why graphic novels matter. This is a meaningful story that’s inherently simplistic, yet more than meets the eye. A fine tale of a man overcoming adversity to remain close to his family, no matter what the consequences might be for him. This complete collection of GOD COUNTRY deserves to get read by anyone who loves comics.

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