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By Brandy DykhuizenWith all the foul language of a Tarantino assassin squad of Biblical proportions, The Goddamned paints a pre-apocalyptic picture of humanity before the Great Flood. Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera explore the heinous depravity and godlessness that would preclude a punishment as severe as genocide from above. The source of countless allusions throughout the Western canon of literature, the Book of Genesis presents the God-fearing and godless alike with a black and white interpretation of the law. In The Goddamned, Aaron and Guera explore this bleak landscape through the eyes of Cain and Noah, each on their own journeys to different ends.

An oddly Aryan-looking Cain is the world’s first murderer, committing fratricide and now condemned to eternally face his sins within the punishment of immortality. Cold and unaffected to most atrocities in a pre-flood Hell on Earth, glimmers of humanity surface in a rare moment of shock when attacked by starved children posing as dogs (all of whom have developed a taste of man-flesh after an unsteady diet of scorpions and snakes). Such a rare moment of emotion does cultivate the expectation that Cain will repent any time now, but it does inch him closer to a mortal existence and incline him to take pity on a lone, broken woman in search of her son. It seems the relative consistency and order of family will surface as Cain’s achilles’ heel as he navigates life’s murderous chaos with his new-found partner.

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Noah is equally as apathetic to the villainous aspects of human nature, but is single-minded in his mission from God. In Guera’s grimly detailed and fantastically unsettling artwork, we see into Noah’s cold bleak soul as he smites any ravager, pillager or defiler that dares to stand in his way. Every brow-wrinkle and strand of back hair seem to significantly portray Noah as a beast of burden, a soldier on a singular mission to find wood strong enough to bear two of each creature to safety in the oncoming storm. As his mighty iron axe kraacs and swacks through skull after numbed skull, and the surrounding wood and sands caked with the blood of those who stood in his way, the details Guera omits (an axe head here, half a face there) are just as effective at expressing raw fear and surprise as if we were privy to the whole package.

The Goddamned is a fantastic retelling of Old Testament tales, maybe born of a mind forced to sit and behave throughout childhood’s Sunday mornings. Positioning wickedness and debasement against a backdrop of unquestioning and relentless religious quests gives The Goddamned relevance to any eon in which humanity existed, including today. “The Beasts of the Field” wraps up with mystery to spare — a field of animal corpses (did Noah’s mission fail, or are those just unicorns?), a dinosaur-riding, empathetic Cain —  and a deliciously colorful and trippy preview into Issue #3. With the promise of raiders, more bones, battles and a saddled dinosaur, this reader is ready to commit until at least Exodus.

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by R.M. Guéra.

Colors by Giulia Brusco.

Letters by Jared K. Fletcher.

9 out of 10

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