One of the greatest strengths of Image Comics is their willingness to publish a diverse group of books. This is exemplified by their newest book, God Hates Astronauts. Image has given Ryan Browne a way to bring his popular web comic to a new audience with an ongoing monthly series. Were we ready? Maybe.
God Hates Astronauts is a strange book. In fact, strange may not be a strong enough word. This book is absurd. The basic premise, as best as I can describe it, is that there are a group of people known as Astro-Farmers who build illegal rockets and try to leave Earth. The faction that focused on in this first issue wants to take to the stars because bestiality is illegal on Earth. So Nasa employs The Power Persons 5, a team of superheroes, to stop the farmers from launching. The team is led by Star Grass, a man whose head has been replaced by a ghost cow head. They serve Sir Hippothesis, a hippo who has a chariot drawn by astronaut centaurs. The reader is thrust in the middle of this story, but luckily 3-D Cowboy gives us a recap.
As I said, the book is strange. Sometimes a book tries to hard to be strange and it alienates the reader. I don’t feel like this book crossed that line. It reads like opening a window into Browne’s mind. There’s a ton of stuff crammed in, but it all feels properly fleshed out and connected. I really admire the craft it takes to create such an original world and manage to bind every oddity together.
The script has a bunch of genuinely funny moments. A few jokes fall flat, but there is such an abundance of humor on these pages that every reader is bound to find a laugh or two. Obviously this story doesn’t take itself too seriously and that might be what makes it work. Browne is providing a book focused on having fun and this made it stick out to me. Sometimes you just need a fun read.
Browne is also doing the art on the book and it’s generally fantastic. I don’t think another artist would be able to breathe so much life into his world. The characters are beautifully detailed and command attention. The backgrounds are a little plain in comparison, but the character work more than makes up for it.
I went into God Hates Astronauts without knowing a thing about it. This first issue is a promising start to the series, and perhaps more importantly it has made me want to go back and read all that has come before. It’s a weird world Ryan Browne has created, but one I can’t wait to explore.