I received a copy of God Complex Volume One in exchange for an honest review.
“Let me ask you something.Do you know what’s the worst thing that can happen to someone? It’s not finding out that everything they thought they knew was wrong… it’s finding out that everything they’re actually afraid of is true.”
God Complex is a cyberpunk story following in the grand tradition of Blade Runner and The Matrix. The story mashes not too distant future tech with Greek mythology and it really works. When Seneca a forensics investigator takes on a bizarre triple homicide with religious ties he finds himself caught up in a conspiracy that could turn the whole world upside down.
Not Your Usual Detective Story
Though Dogma is framed as a hard boiled detective story, the mystery of who murdered the three Church Alcotytes isn’t given much focus. Instead the mystery serves as a jumping off point into the world of the story. So if you’re looking for a traditional detective story this might not be for you. Some of Dogma’s twists are predictable. At about the halfway point I figured out what the big twist of the volume was going to be. Yet, Dogma doesn’t try and hide this. It harkens back to a Greek tragedy where the reader or viewer knowingly watches as the hero blunders towards a grim outcome. You can’t escape your fate and Seneca was doomed from the start.
Though the plot might be simple, what really stood out to me was the world building and the tone of the story. Using mythological figures to frame humanity’s relationship to technology is always fascinating and works well in this story. The Rulers have quietly been controlling human society for centuries and shape themselves after divine figures. They appear to be hybrids with human bodies and mechanized heads. No one knows if their masks/helmets are hiding their faces or if the Rulers are in fact fully machine. Each Ruler possess the names of Greek Gods (Hermes, Athena, Apollo etc). There is an offhand comment about Rulers in other cities which makes me wonder if they’re all shaped off of Greek myth or if other world mythologies make an appearance.
Many other aspects of Greek Mythology make appearances throughout this volume. The Three Fates are adapted into a giant super computer that monitors people’s digital footprints (like in William Gibson’s Idoru). There is also the leader of a rebellion against the Rulers, a woman named Cassandra who warns Seneca of a dangerous future. As is tradition, Seneca promptly ignores her.
Speaking about Seneca…
As a character Seneca is alright. He’s closed off from those around him. He doesn’t see, to have much going on for him besides his job. He’s flawed in the way that something feels missing from him. Before he can really figure out what is going on around him he needs to understand himself.
At it’s core, God Complex is the story of Seneca struggling to come to terms with his faith. He grew up in the Church but lost his faith after his mother died. Now he works directly with the Rulers who see themselves a Divine but come across in Seneca’s world as corporate. This first volume raises a lot of questions about the nature of faith and organized religion but by the end of the volume it hasn’t given many answers. I hope as the story continues that will change.
I really loved the art in this book. At first glance it appears pretty simple but the longer you look at it little details start to stand out. Seneca’s face is very expressive and the artist does a great job of showcasing his emotions visually. This is best shown in my favourite series of panels that appear at the beginning of Chapter Three. Seneca is eating a lollipop and his anger and hurt come across in a catty way.
My only real complaint with the story is how it just drops you into it. There’s no explanation of who the Rulers are. Within the first few pages Seneca is interacting with Hermes and the reader is just expected to roll with it. I had a lot of questions which distracted me as I tried to get into the story. When I was about halfway through the volume I went back and reread the first few pages to get a better handle on the world. I wish there had been a little more information given to me at the beginning to help ground me before I started into the story proper.
God Complex Vol One had a lot of things that I love in a story. An interesting world, fascinating religions surrounded by conspiracy and it left me wanting more. Will we learn the origin of the Rulers? What’s next for Seneca? This is a comic series that I will be continuing in the future. I don’t feel like I fully absorbed everything that happened in this comic. It feels like something that might require a few rereads to totally pick up on everything. It’s a little dense, but I don’t mind. If you’re a fan of cyberpunk or interesting adaptations of mythology then I suggest you check this one out.