Jason Aaron is exploring a new kind of world via Bible stories in The Goddamned. We spoke about it when the first series came out four years ago, and that exploration takes an interesting turn in The Virgin Brides due to its focus on women in ancient times. The first issue was a darkly written introduction to a new setting, but as absorbing as the first series. Rendered in a classical style by R.M. Guéra, the second issue is out this week and it begins an adventure of death, escape, and the awful things done in God’s name.
This book is all about escape, opening with a little girl named Jael being smacked by an old mother. Jael is a “bad” girl who doesn’t follow orders and is in trouble. Sharri, a girl who follows all the rules, comes to her aid and reflects on how the old mothers sometimes have the Devil in them. A pact is formed and soon they’re off to the races, fleeing from their prison. You see, the old mothers are waiting for each girl to come to maturity to offer them to some kind of monster or power that takes the virgins right off the earth into the clouds. They’re better off running.
Also in play in this issue are the dynamics of the old mothers and a separate group of warriors who take part in the virgin ceremonies. The story does well to capture the utter stupidity of people who follow orders thanks to the words of God or in the name of following God’s plan, and it becomes a runaway adventure, not unlike the classics like Tom Sawyer. It’s slowly revealing the world around these girls and does a good job establishing a world they should reject.
The classic element is always their thanks to Guéra’s art which is always interesting to look at. The surroundings and land under the feet of these characters look wild and old, which helps convey the fact that society as folks know it is just as wild. Set in times where laws were barely considered, you can see the wildness in the people matches the wildness around them. The art looks like something transported through time and helps convince us it is set in ancient times.
Though the book is grounded in reality, there is still a magical element present although it’s missing in this issue. The last issue had a child be taken into the clouds, the original series had its moments of awe too, but this issue lacks that. Instead, it reads like a rejection of religious ideas, but I do hope we get more explanation as far as how the virgins are being plucked off into the clouds.
I liked The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides #2 for its vigor and energy in the child protagonists. They live in an untamed world and it’s interesting to see how if you go against the rules in such a world you can live and succeed. The fantasy elements are lacking here, but this issue will win you over with its main characters.