GODDESS MODE #1 / Writer: Zoe Quinn / Artist: Robbi Rodriguez / Letterer : Simon Bowland / Publisher: DC Vertigo / Release Date: December 12, 2018
The best thing about comics is that they are perfect for staying in line with whatever the cultural zeitgeist happens to be – mostly because they cost a teeny tiny, incy wincy fraction of what it costs to make TV and movies. Whilst there are some movies that seem to be tapping into our collective acceptance of every day technology – Her and…. um, the live adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, Ready Player One, and the recent Bladerunner sequel, there aren’t many epic, sprawling, cyberpunk movies around right now.
I would put it down to there not being a lot of room left for non-franchise movies at all, to say nothing of standalone, weird, trashy-in-a-good-way cyberpunk type fare that we got in the late nineties.
Post Matrix there were a lot of slick and silly cyberpunk things – anyone else but me remember Equilibrium? Ultraviolet? Cypher? Or that time they adapted Aeon Flux? The problem with a lot of those movies (aside from being so po-face they creaked) is that there was no colour other than like, sickly cyber-green. This was a far cry from the cyberpunk of comics, anime, and street fashion, but whether we will ever see movies making more glorious neon rainbow cyberpunk comics is… up in the air. Maybe in like ten years when everything else has moved on, as is often the case.
TV is faring much better – again, more room to spread out a story, and technology has caught up enough that TV budgets can tell some compelling stories. Black Mirror and Mr Robot immediately leap to mind, but there’s also Altered Carbon and Westworld. TV is catching up to comics in terms of going out on a limb with how bat-shit weird it can be, but comics will always be able to beat them out, simply because they are cheaper and quicker to produce.
And if there’s one branch of DC that had cornered the market on flat out cool adult weird, it’s Vertigo, the comics that essentially made me. I’m so happy to see them back again, but moreover, it’s really great to see them hire people other than respected creaky old British white men. Besides, Neil Gaiman is mostly in TV now (Good Omens YAY!) and Alan Moore is too busy being a moon man anyway.
So it is that Goddess Mode, much like Blackbird, ticks my boxes in terms of the amount of glorious neon and magical girl homage. I’ll sign up to that in a heartbeat because, much like Zoe Quinn, I’m also a Xillenial (it’s a thing, look it up) woman in her mid-thirties who mainlined Sailor Moon and Manga Entertainment releases in her teens. She’s also got a history as a game creator, so her knowledge and experience makes for a far more grounded and believable cyberpunk setting. There’s a sick father, a massive corporation, a system of magic that kind of adheres to Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law, and holy shit a gang of roller-derby-post-punk-neon-magical-girls. Much like Blackbird, again, there’s a lot of lore and setting crammed into one issue, but it feels a little smoother than it did in Blackbird.
The ending in particular felt crammed in straight away to build a cliff hanger – I’m hard pressed to think of any other way to do this though. That’s the beauty and the downside of writing issue to issue – you have to get people interested in the first issue, but you have to stop it somewhere. It’s honestly worth it to see the set up, which I would like to reiterate is masterful and grounded because of the author’s knowledge and experience.
The art is dynamic and colourful, drawing more from Manga Entertainment (Akira, Cyber City, Bubblegum Crisis and Dirty Pair specifically) and Madoka Magika than any other magical girl show. The trouble is that the magic/alchemical-via-cyberpunk heavy action scenes are hard to follow, especially in the climactic end scene, but the ideas and iconography are so intriguing, you may not mind. Once you’ve read it a few times, it becomes a lot clearer.
So, yeah – another really great synth-wave, magical girl homage, but with a far more science fiction basis, specifically the day-glow cyberpunk we definitely need and are pretty much living in now. I’m sold. More please!
Verdict: 4 out of 5