Missing The Boat Vol.2 #1: Small Gods

Hello my seafaring followers and welcome to The Boat (or Missing The Boat for those of you joining us for the first time), as we set out to sea on our first voyage under the NEXUS banner. If you were a regular reader this column’s first volume then the topics discussed herein will be of no surprise to you. If you’re knew to the column”¦here’s what we do here:

The main focus of the column is to inform you the reader about titles you may have overlooked, or just plain never saw or heard of. The goal is to get you interested in the title enough to give it a read yourself. (Now I’ll admit, everyone has different tastes, so you all may not like every title I recommend, but I’m predicting that I’ll have an 80% accuracy rate at picking titles that everyone will enjoy.)

Besides recommending titles you’re most likely not reading, I’ll also spend some time talking about editorial decisions/storylines that missed the boat, responding to reader email, or whatever else comes to mind that fits within the scope of the column.

Well, moving past all this introductory gibberish, let’s get on with the topic of the day:

Small Gods

Small Gods is produced by Image Comics. It’s written by Jason Rand with wonderful art by Juan E. Ferreyra.

“In 1991, after decades of skepticism and disbelief, the existence of psychic powers was finally, definitively proven. Today, an estimated 1% of the world’s population possess psychic abilities. These people are not superheroes. In most ways, they’re just ordinary people, living ordinary lives. They have families, careers and dreams; they eat, sleep, live – and die.”

As described above, Small Gods is a story that takes place in a world where psychic powers are very much real and are a normal part of everyday life. However, this is really just the backdrop for the story. The story itself is much more personal, and focuses on Detective Owen Young, a precog with a secret. (“Precog” meaning he has the ability to tell the future”¦just in case you were wondering. Although, in Owen’s case, it’s not an ability that he has complete control of.) In most cases, he receives visions in his sleep, almost like dreams. For Owen, this ability is more of a curse than a gift. It’s not an ability that he can either turn on or off (although I could see some character development leading that direction).

Now, many of you may be thinking the same thing I was when I started reading this puppy, “this sort of sounds like Gotham Central.” Well, you’re not wrong. On its most basic level it does have some things in common with GC (not that that’s a bad thing.) The story does focus on police detectives who have to deal with “powered” people, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Small Gods has a very rich back story all its own, and we get a really good feel for it right away in the first issue.

The Bulk of the world’s history (and Owen’s for that matter) is described in what I can only describe as some of the most skillfully written narration I’ve read in comics. Rands’ superb captions fill about 75% of the book without being jarring or “in the way”, and they go along way in helping the reader feel like they are right at home in this world.

An interesting twist in the book is that even though the title features a world where people with psychic powers are very real, they are not the focus of the book. Most of the cases Owen works on have nothing to with “psychics,” and instead focus on how his precog abilities help him in his everyday police work. As it’s described in the narration (and I’ll only touch on it so you can thoroughly enjoy Rand’s words), after it was discovered that “psychics” did actually exist, governments around the world passed laws against them (very similar to the X-Men’s registration act) where anyone with psychic powers had to register them with their government; and most telepath/empathy use was seen as an invasion of privacy.

Past all the intriguing elements Jason Rand brings to the story, I want to take a minute to talk about Juan E. Ferreyra’s magnificent artistry. Ferreyra pulls out all the stops as he pencils, inks, and even handles some (if not all of) the grey tones in the book. (Yes it’s in black and white, and if you use that as an excuse not to pick it up”¦well you just have some issues.) Ferreyra’s art is consistent from page one, panel one to the absolute last image you see. His style is realistic, gritty, and most importantly, each character has his or her own feel”¦their own style. When you flip through any issue of the series you can see the attention that is given to each and every panel, facial expression, and gesture.

The highlights for me (art wise anyway) are the scenes showing Owen’s precog images. Somehow or another Ferreyra kicks it up a notch in these way-to-few panels where we get to see what Owen sees in his flashes. Not only does the style of the panel layout change (a nice effect by the way), but the art itself takes on a slightly different form, and one that I think I like even more than the normal art in the series.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us pretty much at some final thoughts on the series. Like many comics on the shelves today, Small Gods goes out of it’s way to leave you with a “twist” at the end of each issue (or better yet a “oh $h!t moment, which is slightly different that a Holy $h!t moment.) Unlike much of the competition however, these moments are not forced, nor are they predictable. Small Gods perfectly implements the “leave them wanting more” philosophy, and does so without being trite or clichéd.

Oh, I mentioned above that Owen has a secret didn’t I? Well, remember what I said about those “leave you wanting more moments?” Guess what, that secret is one of them, and one you discover at the end of the very first issue.

As to getting the issues”¦if your retailer doesn’t currently have any in stock, I’m pretty sure they can back order them. I haven’t heard anything about the first two issues selling out yet. And as it stands, there are only two issues out, with the third slated to ship in the very near future. So, as you can see, it shouldn’t be hard to catch up on this truly intriguing story.

Well that pretty much does it for our first installment of the new and improved Missing The Boat here at the NEXUS. If you have any suggestions on future column topics, or if you just want to chat about the current column”¦all emails are welcome.

Till next time”¦

Daron Kappauff

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