April 17, 2014

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Genesis (one-shot)


Genesis
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Illustrated by Alison Sampson, Jason Wordie and Jonathan Babcock (with guests artists Chris Visions, Travel Foreman, Artyom Trakhanov, Tommy Lee Edwards, Joseph Bergin III, Matthew Taylor and Robert Ball)
Image Comics

Genesis is a one-shot graphic novella written by Nathan Edmondson and illustrated by Alison Sampson and a whole team of guest artists. It's a beautifully illustrated, surreal story of what it means to have the power of creation in any form. It's not entirely clear what's happening in a few places in the story, but this feels by design, as the process of creation and destruction are messy and complicated, and sometimes sad and lonely.

Genesis tells the story of a man named (appropriately enough) Adam, who grows up believing he can change the world. He thinks he can do so by showing people God as a Minister; when he fails to change people, he decides to end his life, and that's where the story begins. 

Miraculously (after throwing himself from a church tower) he survives and is visited by a strange, unknown figure. After that, Adam starts to manifest the ability to will anything he thinks of into creation, starting with many loaves of bread (another Biblical allusion). He's naturally very frightened by this, but gets over this fear and decides (with his wife Lilian's help) to change the world for the better. And he does, for a short amount of time, by feeding the hungry, providing shelter to people, and generally doing the sorts of things you think you'd do if you had that kind of power. 

However, things start to go badly. Adam gets overwhelmed by all the people thinking he might be the Messiah. He changes his wife's appearance without meaning to do so, and then changes her into something monstrous. The world itself continues to change, and each time Adam alters it things become worse. He's visited by a supernatural bear, who unfortunately doesn't have any answers for him. Adam decides to start over from the very beginning, but this doesn't go well either. He can create things but cannot give them life. Once again he is visited by the mysterious stranger, with whom Adam wrestles (both literally and figuratively) and in the end, Adam is left alone in the world of his own creation.



This is a powerful story, which wrestles with some pretty big ideas. Full of Biblical allegory, this story brings to mind the story of Noah* where God decides that he is unhappy with his creations and so therefore must destroy them and start again. What this story shows, however, is that ultimate power is ultimately impossible to control, and that it's probably better that not every desire or wish you have in your mind become manifest.  

If all of your thoughts, including  your darkest, most hidden thoughts were to come to life, the results might be pretty frightening. Creation is messy and complicated, whether you're talking about a work of art or a new life, and there are many ways where once you create something you cease to truly control it. The story seems to be arguing that if you try to control everything, ultimately you're going to end up alone because you're going to fail in your efforts to control others, and either alienate them or basically blow up the world, in the case of this story. All of this is dealt with quite beautifully in Genesis, which is a fantastical, gorgeous, trippy and sad tale, well worth a read. 

*This isn't Bible week at Panel Patter, just how the timing of the reviews have worked out.