We're down to the last three trades of Christmas and I'm turning now to a somewhat ironic choice, God is Dead. Now, first I have to point out that Avatar Press is the parent company of Bleeding Cool, so yes I work for them… and that the reason I initially read the series was because was asked to write a back-up story for the last eight issues of the series. But this is about the first volume from Jonathan Hickman, Mike Costa and Di Amorim… which I really enjoyed reading.
The premise for the series was very straightforward and clever. What would happen if all of the mythological gods turned out to not only be real, but all returned to existence at the exact same time in modern society. The answer to that is catastrophe. The gods go to war against each other and pretty much destroy humanity in the process. From there we follow two storylines… the human survivors trying to figure out how to stop the devastation… and the gods themselves. Scientist try to build an artificial god in hopes of being able to take back the planet. The gods on the other hand are basically ego driven children bent on destroying one another in the grandest and bloodiest ways possible.
Hickman and Costa have a lot of fun playing with the thematics here, showing the gods to be all-powerful yet very limited. They're almost an allegory for the rich and powerful in the world and how the ignore the plight of the rest of the mankind. We can watch the change in society through a new anchorman that starts off quite normal and gradually gets more and more into the returning gods to the point that he's doing rituals on camera. The series takes what could've been a very polarizing topic and throws out all of the conceits, leaving just the heart of the story… questioning blind faith in anything. Amorim's art on the series is very good. He can make the gods seem powerful and disturbing while also bringing us the struggles of humanity.
As for this being a gift, you really need to know the person you're buying for. The title, God is Dead, can turn people off very easily. I've seen it at conventions having copies on my table… people start looking over the books, see that one and immediately move on. So it is possible to offend some folks with just the cover. Also the book is heavy on violence, nudity and sex… more things that can easily offend. But if you have someone on your list that likes dark and twisted stories that questions faith and humanity… that shows the best and worst in all of us… then this might just be up their alley.