Earlier this month, Ryan Browne’s God Hates Astronauts launched as a new ongoing series, picking up where the webcomic left off. I’ve already talked about how much I loved the first issue of God Hates Astronauts. I loved it so much that I went out and got the trade paperback Image put out last year, collecting all of the previous material. I am not exaggerating when I say that it blew me away.
God Hates Astronauts Vol. 1 is a story with a lot going on. The basic story follows a group of incompetent super heroes known as ‘The Power Persons Five.’ The PP5 are led by Star Fighter, a cosmically-powered super human egoist. His wife, Starrior, was granted cosmic powers by a star ring. The other members of the team are The Anti-mugger, a Batmanesque vigilante who wants to end all muggings, Craymok, a half-strongman half-seal with laser vision, and The Impossible, who can do the impossible. They are employed by Nasa to stop farmers from going to space, but they would rather focus on another enemy. Together, they do battle with John Sullivan, the world heavyweight champ from 1882-1892. He has an army of bears that he is training in the pugilistic arts so that he can take over the world and reclaim his title. Sullivan manages to beat Star Fighter’s head so hard it swells to comic proportions. It is eventually replaced by the head of a ghost cow and the team begins to fall apart.
That description doesn’t do the book justice. There’s just so much going on in the story that it would take pages to describe all of it. Browne has crafted an intricate story that will make you both scratch your head and laugh out loud. It’s a strange book, but never too strange to keep the reader’s attention. These aren’t characters that would typically be empathetic but, regardless of how weird their circumstances are, there is an underlying sense of relatability to (some) of the characters.
The book is also genuinely one of the funniest books I’ve read. When I’m reading, I’m not the type to laugh out loud. This book had me cracking up almost continuously. It’s clever and crude and off-the-wall. It’s filled to bursting with references, some of which Browne graciously points out in the supplemental material. My favorite recurring joke is the Blitzkrieg. The timing of the joke is just perfect.
Browne also does the art in the main book. It’s pretty incredible to see so much detail in the panels. The art also enhances the humor, giving the jokes more substance and providing the reader with a ton of visual gags. The book also contains plenty of supplemental material that really increases the value. There are eighteen two-page origin comics for characters in the series, each written by Browne and drawn by eighteen different artists. There are also eighteen pin-ups and two bonus 24-hour comics. The first is the comic God Hates Astronauts is based on. It’s a cool addition that lets you see the evolution of the story.
Ryan Browne is a master of the absurd. It’s genuinely impressive that he can take so many seemingly random characters and events and still tell a cohesive story. The collection not only stands alone as a great book, it enhances the current series greatly. If you liked the first issue of the new ongoing, you must buy this trade.