This review contains spoilers.
Bible stories are nothing new to comic books. All-American Publications (and then Educational Comics) published "Picture Stories from the Bible" as early as the late 1930s. When Max Gaines died in 1947 and his son William took over Educational Comics, EC went from godly to ghastly. But William Gaines never attempted to cross the genres of crime/horror and bible story in his newly named Entertaining Comics. Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera do cross the genres in "Goddamned."
"Goddamned" is about as far from a bible picture story as one might get and still consider the "good book" as source material. But issue #1 is definitely born in the Bible -- Genesis 4 to be exact. For those gentiles who skipped that day in Sunday school, Genesis 4 is the story of Adam and Eve's children: Cain and Able.
According to the Bible, Cain was the first to commit fratricide when he killed Able. There are many myths as to what happened to Cain after Genesis 4. For the sake of brevity, we can look at the popular myth that Cain was cursed to forever be a vagabond who would be murdered over and over again but unable to die (though the text of Genesis 4 doesn't imply any of that). Aaron has taken this myth of an unkillable Cain and run with it.
"Goddamned" #1 starts out with a man waking up in a literal deadpool -- a pool of rotting corpses and human excreta. Guera's art is sufficient for some of the more gentile readers to be gagging in their mouths with his "picture stories" inspired by the Bible. The rest of the issue is the man (yes it's Cain) exacting vengeance upon those who killed him, sevenfold (that actually is a line from Genesis 4). Cain's vengeance is just as gruesome as his beginnings in the issue. The issue ends with the big reveal that the unkillable man, is in fact Cain, the first murderer, just as Noah enters the story.
In an interview with Vince Brusio, Aaron explains that this biblical-noir is wholly new, though it does nod to previous work he's done with Guera.
"I'm quite confident in saying that there isn't another book quite like this one on the stands at the moment," said Aaron. "This series is a punch in the face and a kick in the gut but also a serious exploration of character and setting in line with what Guera and I previously did in the pages of Scalped."
In the aforementioned interview, Aaron expounds on the sand box of the pre-Flood setting he's playing in.
"I've always been fascinated by the story possibilities of the antediluvian world, of the world before the Flood," said Aaron. "Not so much from a perspective of faith or religion, but simply as a storyteller. There's good fertile ground. Bloody, but fertile."
If you feel this first issue of "Goddamned" is too in-your-face or too irreverent, that's by design. Aaron doesn't want readers to be lead astray thinking this comic doesn't deserve a parental advisory just because it's based in biblical history. Regardless of what your religious/historical/political views are of the Bible, if you want a primal crime comic that doesn't hold any punches (or decapitations that even William Gaines might have considered "in bad taste") then don't miss this title.
"Goddamned" #1 is available in your local comic shop 11/11/2015.