Cult web comic God Hates Astronauts comes to Image Comics with a series that has quite possibly the coolest title on the newsstand. But can this quirky tale of deviant space farmers and animal-headed super heroes live up to the divine awesomeness of its title or will this be a book which lacks star power?
God Hates Astronauts #1 begins the story of the struggle between NASA, allied with ‘King Tiger eating a cheeseburger’, and the bands of astro-farmers who are trying to circumvent NASA’s law and reach the heavens in their rocket silos. When one band of astro-farmers prepare to make their move towards reaching space and the golden moon-heaven, it falls to the Power Persons Five, led by the arrogant Star Grass, to take them down in a bloody and disturbing fashion.
For fans coming to this book without any experience of Browne and co’s work online then good luck as it becomes very apparent early on that God Hates Astronauts is not your standard comic book tale. If we were being generous we would say it was a parody of modern science-fiction or an attempt at satirising some of the more ridiculous elements of contemporary comics, but in fact it is just a weird mess of puerile jokes and random plot elements. There are hints of surreal cartoons like Adventure Time or the grittiness of Garth Ennis’s The Boys, however it never comes close to achieving what makes those series work so well.
Whether it’s the story of a farmer who loves his chicken just a little too much, or the bizarrely titled ‘King Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger’, God Hates Astronauts #1 is a rather laborious read which appears to have sacrificed cohesive story telling in favour of twisted and juvenile gags. It must have a fan base out there who revel in it’s crudity and overall weirdness in order to warrant it getting the attention it has from Image Comics, however we unfortunately don’t seem to get the joke.
The artwork is half decent but it lacks the charm and wit of books like Rob Guillory and John Layman’s Chew, which it wishes it was half as good as, maintaining a rather grubby, garish look which is in keeping with some of the more disturbing plot points.
At least the creative team are having fun making it as is evident from the quirky opening title page and the goofy quotes on the back page, it’s just a shame that those of us who have to read it don’t find it quite as funny and instead are inflicted to 30 pages of crude and unfunny sophomore humour that isn’t a surreal masterpiece, it’s just weird for the sake of being weird (and not in a good way!).