The Goddamned #1 Retrospective Review


A retrospective review of The Goddamned series from Jason Aaron and r.m. Guéra. This is a review of The Goddamned #1.

Over the course of the coming weeks, I will be providing interested readers with a number of retrospective reviews of some awesome ongoing (non-superhero) titles that might be flying a bit under the radar. Once we’re caught up to the current issue—and hopefully some new readers have been introduced to these kickass books—I will provide monthly reviews of the continuing series. Jason Aaron and r.m. Guéra’s The Goddamned is one such series. So, without further ado …

The Goddamned #1

Story by: Jason Aaron / Illustrated by: r.m. Guéra / Colors by: Giulia Brusco

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on Earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.” – Genesis 6:5-6

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Open the first two pages of this issue, and prepare to be treated to a couple of strikingly-beautiful splash panels of desert scenescapes. They are expansive, gritty, and touched with color in just the right way. The Biblical quote at the forefront is poignant and appropriate, as the emptiness and despair of the scene set the tone for the entire issue.

Then, a man rises (begrudgingly) out of a pit of human excrement, and The Goddamned suitably begins.

There is a lot of debate about Cain among Biblical scholars. Was he damned after he murdered Abel and asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” As he wandered the Earth bearing God’s mark of judgment? Did he continue to live in sin? Or did he repent and return to the Lord? The Goddamned seems to indicate that the truth might end up being something in between.

Throughout the first issue of The Goddamned, the First Murderer is far from a saint, and he certainly shows no affinity for worship. He drinks, he swears, he kills (though one might not necessarily call his brand of killing “murder” this time around), and he doesn’t  care about anybody but himself—even one-armed children! Cain is without question an incredibly broken and embittered man when we first meet him.

More than that though, he is also immortal. Part of his curse is to wander the Earth, unable to find release from the Hell that the antediluvian world has become. And that’s pretty much what Cain does throughout the issue. He wakes up, he kills a bunch of troglodytes, and he wanders. The Goddamned #1 didn’t do a ton in the way of setting up a directed plot going forward, which would usually kind of piss me off, but it was okay this time around for two reasons:

  1. The barrenness and the emptiness of it all is very fitting. The pre-flood world of The Goddamned is a cold, bleak hellhole, and the directionless nature of Cain’s situation—until Noah’s appearance—is a testament unto that fact. Where Cain is going and how he will grow (if at all) remain to be seen, but again, that fits the narrative of hopelessness that sets the scene for whatever forward progress might ensue.
  2. It’s the story of the Biblical flood. Noah appears at the end. If it needs much more introduction for you, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Put the comics down, and go pick up a Bible, if for no other reason than to educate yourself on the most famous piece of historical literature in world history.

If this issue accomplishes nothing else (though I would say it does), it at the very least points readers in the direction of an extremely critical Biblical guide stone: the Nephilim. Understanding the incursion of Genesis 6, the Sons of God mating with human women, and the Nephilim/giant offspring they produced is absolutely critical to understanding both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety. (Strange that it never gets talked about at church, huh?)

Whether Jason Aaron intended it or not, whether he knew about the Nephilim from serious Biblical study or just as a casual interest, he does readers a great service opening their eyes to this extremely important element of Biblical understanding. I encourage you wholeheartedly to pursue this thread and follow the rabbit hole as far as you can.

More superheroes and comics: The Eighth Seal #1 Retrospective Review

That said, I liked this first issue quite a bit. r.m. Guéra and Giulia Brusco treat us to some gorgeous artwork all throughout. Everything is perfectly bleak (except the gore, which really stands out against the backdrop), and this interesting take on a classic Biblical tale—which also incorporates some extremely critical knowledge points—is intriguing.

I have no problem believing that the antediluvian world was exactly the way Aaron writes it, and I am interested to see if someone or something can crack Cain’s shell.