The Gods are real, and they walk the earth. It’s a plot very familiar to comics fans, with the likes of The Eternals, Thor, and countless others exploring what would happen if the heroes of mythology truly existed.
Adding to this lexicon is Kyle Higgins, Joe Clark, Felipe Watanabe, Frank Williams & Clayton Cowles’ Ordinary Gods, but instead asking the usual question “how would man be affected if the Gods were real?” this team asks “how would the Gods be affected if they were real?”
Ordinary Gods takes place in a world where the Gods exist in a realm separate from humans. Instead of every God of mythology existing simultaneously, the story involves a smaller cast named by the typical archetypes found in mythology.
After countless attempts at revolution by humanity, five of these Gods, The Luminary, The Prodigy, The Brute, The Trickster & The Innovator, decide to join the fight. These battles go on for ages, as the Gods cannot truly die, being resurrected after each downfall.
To end this eternal war, the five are imprisoned on Earth, forced to inhabit human bodies and have their memories erased. However, this doesn’t truly stop them as the five continually regain their memories and try to reunite, creating a long line of past lives that each of them has lived.
Immediately, Ordinary Gods is a standout among the many stories in this vein. Through this concept, the reader gets to explore how themes like war and death would be viewed through beings who cannot die and must struggle for thousands of years. It’s an extremely interesting exploration of eternal lives.
Despite this focus, the reader is still able to find sympathetic characters. The comic is primarily seen through the main character, Christopher, who emotionally struggles with their dual identity and who he is told he has to become. In typical Higgins fashion, character growth is a cornerstone that gives an additional sentiment to a heavy concept.
With a concept this grand, an art team that could sweep readers away was essential. Watanabe, Williams, and Cowles take this task and completely crush it.
Many panels are incredibly detailed, immersing the reader into the story and greatly assisting them in navigating the complicated plot. However, there are also a lot of tender moments where there is minimal background and creative use of gutters allowing focus on the characters.
Topping off quality pencil work is masterful coloring. Williams’ ability to add so much emotion and variety to these panels is impressive. These Gods are made even larger than life thanks to the stunning moodiness of the coloring and the wide array of colors utilized.
Tying everything off nicely is Cowles’s lettering which is as diverse and clean as the previously mentioned collaborators. Of note, in particular, is a panel that depicts a single bullet cartridge with a white background and a large “bang!” behind it. The drama of this moment makes readers pause largely because of the impact of the lettering.
Ordinary Gods is a fresh step forward in a medium dense with stories of Gods coming to life. It manages to avoid the usual pitfalls of unrelatable characters, a lack of stakes, etc. and makes these immortals beings feel human. For any fans of high-concept fantasy and character-driven narratives, this is a perfect read.