Vol 5: John Arcudi’s A God Somewhere
A God Somewhere #1-4
Superman isn’t a bad guy. And I don’t care much about the “but Eric’s” on this; while there may have been an issue here or there where some villainous mastermind or anti-cosmic McGuffin turned the Man of Steel into the Man of Something Nefarious That Rhymes With Steel, but for our purposes, he’s a good dude.
More than that, he’s God. He can’t ever really be hurt, he’s immune to the weapons of men, and he always seems to win out even in the realms of the magical. God is good, in that world. He does the right thing because it is implicit in the power he wields. Because he can, he does.
This is likely why making him a villain is such a popular concept. Apart from the visual options of the strongest person in the world destroying said world, the idea of that implicit power not carrying with it a necessity of good is terrifying.
And terrifying describes exactly the God of A God Somewhere.
The stage, quickly set, is simple. Our protagonists, the religious Eric (our eventual God somewhere), successful Hugh (our brother of our eventual God somewhere), and our narrator Sam (best friend of our God somewhere), are close, though drifting. Eric and Sam have grown closer through bad jobs and low cash, where Hugh has done well for himself, and married Alma, the high school crush of both her husband and Sam. Things get hairy when a fragment from a space storm collides with Eric’s apartment building, making him all powerful and killing nearly everyone else present. While Eric initially is seen as a savior, sought out by the powerful and worshipped by everyone else, the realization of his power changes him, quickly and completely.
In its base story, A God Somewhere is similar to recent God-gone-bad stories (Irredeemable, Supreme Power), in that it deals in the effects of absolute power on a mortal mind. Where it diverges from that road, and for the better, is in the removal of responsibility and guilt. Eric doesn’t succumb to the pressure of heroism. He doesn’t pay the price of power. He simply stops caring. And an uncaring but active God is about as scary as it gets.
None are more scared than Hugh, Sam and Alma, all of which are visited upon by extreme violence. The story beyond the carnage is focused tightly on the three of them, and the lasting echoes of their trauma. There are no happy endings here, merely methods of coping. Or not coping.
What the story ultimately becomes is a character study set against extraordinary circumstances. Eric’s power is an unalterable thing, and so the people in his world have to learn to deal with that. Sam in particular becomes the most complex character, as he knew Eric the best. With that knowledge, he leads us through what he was, could have been, and never will be. It’s a hard thing to truly know God, and that’s what A God Somewhere really hammers home.
All of that said, it’s not a perfect book. There’s a racial undercurrent that’s not fleshed out quite enough, but takes a good amount of space. Alma, a victim of cruelty the same as everyone else, isn’t given a whole lot to do. But this examination of faith, god, the superhero, PTSD and coping, is absolutely worth a read, flaws and all.