Picking up where Lazarus Planet: We Once Were Gods left off, Lazarus Planet: Revenge of the Gods brings us the opening salvos in a war of the Gods against humanity. They’ve grown tired of being ignored by mortals and are using terror to regain power through belief.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Lazarus Planet: Revenge of the Gods #1!
The story begins in Philadelphia, where two women are walking their children down the street. Suddenly one is hit by Apollo’s arrow, giving her the “gift” of foresight. She starts accusing her friend of having an affair with her husband and chaos erupts. More and more people on the street are struck with arrows until finally Billy Batson is as well. Apollo reminds us “every gift from the Gods is also a curse” which ends up being an important refrain later in the issue.
The next three pages show us different Gods in different locations around the world, terrorizing the populace. In Cairo, Sekhmet has taken control of a horde of alley cats and proclaims if she is given what she wants, she will be merciful. Then in Tokyo, there is a giant kaiju-like god, perhaps meant to be Raijin or Fujin, who stands tall behind an enormous tidal wave about to crash into the city. Large ships are floating on the water like toys in a bathtub, a nice visual detail. Finally in Iceland Skadi takes down several reindeer with her bow and arrow as two snowmobilers flee for their lives.
On Mount Olympus, we start to get an explanation of what’s going on. Hera sits on the throne while the lifeless body of Zeus is at her feet. The Wizard Shazam is at her side like a trusted advisor. The Lazarus Rains have given him knowledge of the future, and he’s joined forces with Hera. Back in Washington, DC, Cheetah, Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl are discussing what their next steps should be. It isn’t sustainable for them to keep fighting off these disasters. It would have been nice to see how the heroes had been responding to the various attacks of the Gods, but it looks like we’ll have to wait for future issues. It is decided that Wonder Woman should go to Mount Olympus and plead their case to the Gods.
On Mount Olympus, Wonder Woman and Hera have a discussion. Hera tells Diana that the Amazons will die out along with the Gods if they are not worshipped. Diana is doubtful this is true, but wishes she could talk to her mother to be sure. Unfortunately, Hecate is distracting Hippolyta in order to keep her away. The story ends with Hera turning Diana into a God. She has always straddled the mortal and godlike worlds, and Hera makes it sound like this is the only way she can save the Amazons. Diana absolutely suspects trickery from Hera, and we can probably assume she has a plan, because like Apollo said in the very beginning of the issue, “Every gift from the Gods is also a curse.”
The writing by G. Willow Wilson is top notch. The narration in the first eight pages really sets the atmosphere and has a foreboding tone. There’s a twist of fate coming for us all that we cannot escape. The art and colors by Cian Tormey and Jordie Bellaire are great. All of the various locations are unique and different so we actually feel like we’re in these places. The colors especially differentiate the settings, warm tones for Cairo, the northern lights shining above a giant Skadi in Iceland are two great examples. The cover and solicitation for the issue are a little misleading as they both indicate Shazam will play an important part, but he’s more or less relegated to the status of a background character in the first few pages and never seen again.
The backup story by Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad features two influencers who have made their way to Themyscira and are attempting to livestream their “discovery” of the island. When Queen Nubia and Faruka set out to deal with these hapless explorers, a Stranger we saw earlier in the issue fishing a God’s hand out of the Potomac River has already dispatched the young men with arrows. He claims to be an ally of the Amazons who are now on their own, but no more information is gleaned about his origins or identity. The more stylistic art by Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, John Livesay and Alex Guimarães is a nice shift from the more realistic style in the main story.
With excellent writing and art, this is a great first issue for an interesting premise. It will be intriguing to see how the new status quo of the DC universe post-Lazarus Planet will impact the outcome of this war between Gods and humanity.
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