There's a fine line to walk when putting up the first issue of a new series. How much world building do you do? Do you focus more on character, plot, or art? What's the hook that will bring people into your world, and how do you balance between exposition and action? There's a lot with any new IP, and it's not always successful, but Dread Gods begins with an interesting kind of dichotomy. Without reading any of the copy or previews that come along with it, I would have no idea of what this book was about. The description of the series gives me more of this world than anything I found in the pages, which - for the most part - is standard action fare, but with a couple of interesting character hooks. I was drawn to this title by the previews. I don't know if I would have been had I read the issue alone.
Ron Marz has a very interesting take on a story about control. There are sinister hints that abound within the society that he presents to us, and the world building is quite solid in that regard. We're given a god character and a mortal one who will seem to be our protagonists, whilst a man portraying himself as Prometheus seems to be running the show. There's a definite Matrix feel to it, with the real world being the wasteland that people want to escape from, but the twist here feels more grounded in the trends that we see today: trading freedoms and choice for the sake of entertainment. If our attention is suitably held, who's to say what we'd do for more?
Tom Raney excels at his character designs. Everyone is unique and amazing, conveying expectations instantly. The fun part is watching him run counter to the tone of the script at times, building the beginning of a dichotomy that seems like it may define the series. The action sequences are splashy fun, reinforcing the intended forced nature of the action as entertainment for the masses.
There's a good deal of subtlety going on here, and that has the potential to wend a thorough and intriguing story in the subtext, but it may be difficult with the noise of the big action going on. Perhaps it was because they tried to do so much in this first shot that the pacing felt rushed, but I wouldn't make a decision on it yet. I'm inclined to check out another few issues to see if the subtle cues form more of the narrative going forward. If so, I think there's something great here.
Share the stories that move you.