R-Rated Reads features the best in Comics and Graphic Novels that you’d normally hide underneath your mattress. Now, what the F%*# are you waiting for!? READ the G@&-D*%$ thing!
by Tomer Soiker
Garth Ennis’ Goddess
Written by Garth Ennis, Art by Phil Winslade
Garth Ennis is known for his brutal graphic scenes, criticism of religious, political and world affairs and colorful yet dark characters. With that he made a name for himself during the 90s with Preacher and Hitman, and later moved to revamp Punisher at Marvel in the character’s best run ever. But what about Ennis less familiar works?
Well, they’re not much different than his famous works.
Goddess, an 8-issue mini-series published by Vertigo in 1995 was a collaborated work by Ennis with British artist Phil Winslade (Judge Dredd, MAX’s Howard the Duck). Other than the promised gore and dismembered organs, this story’s main theme is nature and ecology.
Rosie Nolan is a charming Irish redhead who works at the local zoo, animal and nature lover. While traveling the imaginary border of Scotland and England, she suddenly has a weird feeling, which ends with an energy blast coming out of her body and separates Britain to two islands. The Americans catch the event live via one of the CIA’s satellites and forlorn Agent Harry Hooks is appointed as in charge of investigating the event. To Rosie’s escape aids Jeff, a suicidal young man saved by Rosie and now in love with her; Mudhawk, a violent Greenpeace member with authority problems; and Mudhawk’s deserted ex-girlfriend, Sam. Other then these figures, the story also introduces George Dixon, a torturing aging copper seeking revenge for the death of his friend because of Hooks; and Dixon’s thugs, dumb sadist twins.
As you can understand from these descriptions, all or most of the characters are radical. If you ever read a Garth Ennis story, you already know how his characters roll. If you didn’t, prepare your stomach before reading. Another part of the characterizations is the relationships, some of them distorted in a way: Mudhawk who abuses poor Jeff and trying to renew his relationship with angry Sam. Sam who at first doesn’t like Rosie but soon they become friends. Dixon’s bizarre relationship with his boys. Hooks and his hatred for humanity, yet so loyal to his country. Oh, and aside from the returning Ennis themes and elements, there’s something too familiar here: Mudhawk abandons and years later returns to her life out of nowhere? Doesn’t it remind anyone of a certain God-seeking priest and a gun loving blonde?
As for the themes for Ennis’ criticism this round: Humanity’s treatment of nature and creation, environmental organizations’ hypocrisy (Mudhawk protects animals, but uses brutality against authority figures and those who oppose him), US-Britain relationships that doesn’t pay enough to the latter according to the scribe (as Hooks says: “We could wipe our asses with this country and they wouldn’t even have the balls to ask why they’re covered in crap”), the underground stench in organizations like CIA, the inefficiency of British police, police brutality and even spiritual and mystical themes (not necessarily religion). Writing-wise, it’s a great read for Ennis fans, but others will enjoy it too. Remember what I said about the stomach, though.
As for the art, Winslade’s painted art fits like a glove to Ennis’ story. From landscapes to action scenes, from decapitated heads to facial expressions; Winslade did an incredible work. One of my favorite scenes occurs in chapter 7 and shows a strong lighting, which erases the colors and shows only a inked drawings, making it look black & white, showing the artist’s craft in both painting and simple inking. So far the only other Winslade work I read was the MAX Howard the Duck mini-series from 2002, written by Howard’s late creator Steve Gerber. In that story the art was slightly different, colored digitally by another person, but still was good. Too bad Winslade is not working more in the mainstream industry.
To sum up: Not for the faint heart, Garth Ennis haters, fans of crappy artwork, humorless Brits, CIA agents and illiterate persons.
3.5 out of 5 butchered seals.
To contact Tomer: email@example.com