Feb 28, 2014

Review of Rich Evans's The God Dismissal by Thomas Tomas

The God Dismissal is the new graphic novel written and drawn by Rich Evans, published by Drawn and Quarterly. It will be released in August 2014. Thomas Tomas was given an early copy to review it for this blog.

Rich Evans has been gaining in popularity in the comic book scene over the last few years. Although still firmly planted in the "alternative" scene - the underground scene, if you rather - he has has shorter works published in the New Yorker and the Times. He is known primarily for his illustration work, collaborating with such renown comic book writers as Alan Moore (Watchmen, From Hell) and Warren Ellis (Planetary, Transmetropolitan). This year has seen the release of his first creator-owned work written and drawn by him alone. Its published by the great Canadian alternative comic publisher Drawn and Quarterly.

The comic book, or graphic novel, is titled "The God Dismissal" and concerns the impact of atheism on society. Many writers like to criticize religious fundamentalists for being too radical, this book looks at the impact of radical atheists. First off, I was a bit weary of the idea because I'd be more inclined to identify with atheism than I would religion. I would call myself agnostic, I don't believe in any religion as I don't believe that knowledge of God is certain in anyway, and its quite possible that God doesn't exists. However, the concept of God is so broad that I do think a 'god' type element exists in the world. I think that the world is more than meets the eye. This book explores the reaction of strong opinionated and strong willed people that do not think there is more than meets the eye.

The book opens with a large crowd gathered around a single man, sort of how you'd imagine a pastor in the middle of a church. But what he says is completely different. He claims that existence is meaningless and cruel, and the universe does not owe anyone a sense of hope. The crowd agrees with him. In this world, this type of thinking has become more widespread in politics. He claims that you cannot believe in something simply because it gives you hope, and science has concluded that God does not exist. It is hinted at that the scientific data he is using may be biased. This man has become sort of a prophet in the new, hopeless age.

The protagonist, Alex Maile, has a high level government position in the pentagon and has access to weapons of mass destruction. He is contacted by the organization behind the man in the first scene to steal a weapon that has just been designed - a weapon that could single-handedly wipe out all existence - and detonate it. The protagonist, an atheist himself, needs to decide whether to follow the atheist organization or find meaning in life.

Alex Maile's spiritual journey to find meaning is handled very well and makes up the bulk of the book. I feel Evans has gone through a similar crisis in life and this is his way of expressing it artistically. For a man who's not known for his long-form works, this is a promising new direction and I look forward to reading more of his work.

The art is what you would expect from Evans, and even over the 300 pages of this book it maintains a high-level of detail. The art is very 'messy' and really enables the reader to dive into this new world.

In the scene depicted above, Alex Maile is in a hotel room trying to forget about the upcoming decision he must make.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book to all of the readers on Miffed in Clifton if only because it is a masterclass in graphic novel writing and drawing. But it is more than that, its a serious look into the implications of nihilism in our world and how men with power and radical ideas can take advantage of the weak-willed. It got me to think about the precipice that we all walk beside, and how easy it is to fall into despair. And further, how easy it is to be tricked into believing your misery is true. I don't want to suggest Evans goes this far, but it made me think about how we go about solving our problems of unhappiness in Canada: with money, by following popular methods and activities. Or even further: how we all follow the typical strand of life and expect it to bring happiness. Perhaps, like Alex Maive, we need to break out of the box of mundane reality and see the beauty in the universe, in the unreason.

Thomas Tomas
Finding meaning in Vernon, BC
May 2014

The God Dismissal can be purchased directly from Drawn and Quarterly publishing http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/

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