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'Golgotha Motor Mountain' #1 advance review: transformative body horror crashes to Earth
IDW

Comic Books

‘Golgotha Motor Mountain’ #1 advance review: transformative body horror crashes to Earth

Prepare for a glorious hybrid of wonder, disgust, and sheer stupefaction.

Some books don’t need much to grab you. In the case of Golgotha Motor Mountain, it was really just a tweet.

I recall seeing something similar to this issue #1 cover art (from series artist Robbi Rodriguez and colorist Marissa Louise) and feeling absolutely dumbfounded. It touched on properties that I already adored (there’s some real The Maxx vibes, yeah?) while also clearly operating in a totally new and novel space.

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And when I actually read the debut (due out March 6), it felt as if my brain had been utterly hollowed out (in the best way possible).

Again, it was initially from the art of Rodriguez and Louise, who are joined in this “hillbilly cosmic sludge southern Gothic nightmare” by co-writers Matthew Erman and Lonnie Nadler. Through the art team, the story (about two brothers who survive in their teensy Kentucky town by cooking meth — until an alien meteoroid changes their business model) is transformed into this surreal, Heavy Metal-on-mescaline world that’s bright and lively and filthy and unnerving in one glorious deluge.

Rodriguez and Louise together do this wonderful thing where it’s hard to really tell what’s truly alien and what’s of our own world, concocting this profound aesthetic that grounds the extraordinary and uplifts the mundane. The end result is a world where all ideas are treated equally as both foreign and familiar, and that manages to promote out immersion even as it maintains a kind of edge and unease that you’d want from a story about people selling alien drugs. That approach and tone visually totally helps the story’s larger goal of messing and/or playing with our sensibilities and to get us thinking about the nature of our experiential reality as well as the ways we might shape these perceptions.

Golgotha Motor Mountain

Courtesy of IDW.

Those rather lofty ideas actually help to form and shape the book’s greatest visual accomplishment: classy body horror. Which is to say, this book tackles absolutely stomach-churning transmogrifications in such a thoughtful and deliberate manner. To a noticeable extent, that kind of earnest approach to melting skin and featuring gut monsters with teeth is an extension of that whole “what’s ours and what’s alien” dynamic, and another way in which this book attempts to subvert your understandings and your general sense of terra firma.

At the same time, though, I think that a decidedly deliberate approach just speaks to how this book regards horror, and how it actively tries to shock us even as it’s very clearly showing us something more altogether profound. Namely, the kind of power and a sense of romance, as it were, that comes with delving into our very physical presence in the world, and how easily the visuals can facilitate a whole new understanding of what we’re really made of and our place in this universe.

Those body horror bits also help exemplify and highlight the greater work of Nadler and Erman on the story. Because where the art tries to confuse our senses and sense of gravity with its overt intensity, the storyline does much of the same in a decidedly more thoughtful and delicate manner.

Golgotha Motor Mountain

Courtesy of IDW.

The premise alone initially made me think we’d get some sort of marriage of Breaking Bad and Beavis and Butthead — and, yeah, there’s absolutely some elements of that in this story. (This book tackles that kind of Americana but in an inventive manner.) But the debut issue quickly works to extend and grow from that gimmick into something decidedly more complicated (again, sort of like how the visuals themselves are effective in making us re-evaluate and reconfigure things). I don’t want to spoil too much in that regard, but Erman and Nadler use that slightly silly premise to really delve into ideas of the true nature of humanity (once again, in line with the fundamental scope or interests of the art) as well as these notions of family and belonging, societal change, culture and the search for meaning, and even this shared history of self-destruction.

They’re truly grand ideas, sure, but they are tackled in a way that I think marries nicely with the book’s extra overt, almost theatrical approach to horror and also its down-home emotionality and aesthetic. It’s about deconstructing people (like melting them into pools of gooey DNA) to understand the things that matter most — like how much we need and still run away from family as a concept, and how we make or break our own destinies through a system that reinforces our own, often more base tendencies. (Also, this book offers the best kind of philosophizing about American culture, redemption/second chances, and generational trauma.)

'Golgotha Motor Mountain' announced at IDW for March 2024

Courtesy of IDW.

And once more, it’s all done in just a way to keep it feeling just as seedy and slightly silly as you’d want, championing this kind of horror-adjacent breeziness and sacrality even as it’s getting you to contemplate some extra heady ideas. Through that story approach, and married with these robust but specific visuals, what we got across issue #1 is both an unassuming experience that nonetheless guides you into some deep, uncomfortable confrontations with yourself and your place in the world. There’s still so much story left to actually unfold, but already it’s all right there waiting to strike us squarely in the heart.

Even with the sheer number of books I read weekly, Golgotha Motor Mountain still managed to genuinely surprise me. It started as what I thought might be a bloody, wonderfully schlocky experience and quickly became a meditation on basically life itself (emotionally, physically, chemically, etc.) It did that not just by shocking and unnerving us readers (it does that in spades), but in a manner that was endlessly curious about why these values and constructs matter and the ways we explore ourselves via storytelling. If one picture (or review…) also tickled your brain, then just imagine the systemic changes you’ll undergo with the whole book on hand.

Golgotha Motor Mountain #1 is due out March 6 via IDW.

'Golgotha Motor Mountain' #1 advance review: transformative body horror crashes to Earth
‘Golgotha Motor Mountain’ #1 advance review: transformative body horror crashes to Earth
Golgotha Motor Mountain #1
A story about family, aliens, and transcendence will romance and disarm readers in one fell swoop.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
The art grips from page one, and it blurs and blends influences and perspectives alike.
There's a kind of unassuming tone that works even as it obfusicates an intellectually challenging story.
This debut issue lays the groundwork for something that recontextualizes horror, family drama, and man's nature.
Don't go in if 1) you hate body horror and/or 2) you can't put in the actual work.
9
Great
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