The Goddamned #1 could be classified as a post-apocalyptic story with its violent gangs of basically cavemen wandering around killing, fighting, and falling in their own excrement. Ironically, it is set in the time before the Great Flood and the classic story of Noah’s ark. Writer Jason Aaron holds to a fairly literal and Creationist view of the book of Genesis as he sets The Goddamned about 1,600 years after the creation of the universe and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Guera doesn’t hold back in his depiction of the gruesome nature of the antediluvian world, and Aaron wisely rests on his art and Giulia Brusco’s colors to tell the story of Cain, a man who is cursed by and curses God for his fate to wander the Earth after he slew his brother Abel.
The Goddamned #1 is a gruesome and earthy tale and mainly takes place at a watering hole literally called the “shit pond”. During this time, most people have been reduced to having sex (There is a reference to “fuck huts”.), fighting, eating, and excreting waste. There is little to separate humanity from animals, and Guera shows this in his art by giving the Bone Boys, a group of violent raiders that make any villain from the Mad Max franchise look like cuddly kittens in comparisons, twisted and exaggerated features to go with their basically gibberish dialect. These are people with no sense of morality, who assaulted a lone wanderer for a few strips of cloth and didn’t even have the decency to kill him, but leave him in a pile of excrement. Their extremely disgusting nature is what makes the slightly over-long eight page fight sequence in the middle of the comic so cathartic when Guera takes a break from the big panoramas to get up close and personal with Cain, a man who can’t be killed or harmed because of the curse God placed on him, and his desperate, brutal fight with the Bone Boys. Aaron and Guera even give some bonus points to readers familiar with the Book of Genesis by having Cain fight with metal weapons instead of bones and stone like the Bone Boys because his descendants invented metallurgy with both bronze and iron in the Biblical account.
Jason Aaron is both straightforward and subversive in his work on The Goddamned #1. He keeps most of the elements of the Biblical narrative of Genesis 6, including the struggle between the descendants of Cain and the descendants of Seth as well as mentioning the Nephilim or Giants, which walk the Earth. Cain’s motivation for killing, namely anger, is also intact as well as his curse to wander the Earth and inability to be killed or wounded, which is touched upon when a little boy he meets keeps mentioning his lack of scars or wounds in this barren, violent landscape. Aaron gets subversive by making Cain, who has been portrayed as a negative figure in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, a sympathetic anti-hero.
The end of the book is filled with Cain’s actual wanderings with Guera depicting the bones, rocks, and creatures of this prehistoric world in tragic detail all culminating with the reveal of a mysterious monster, which echoes the descriptions of the Behemoth in the Book of Job or could possibly be Satan in the form of a giant Serpent. His journeys against a backdrop of red from Brusco contain terse, remorse filled narration as Cain realizes that his killing of Abel was a stupid act even if he was a bit of a holy rolling annoyance, but he isn’t willing to make peace with God because of how bad the world has gotten calling the Almighty some dirty words out of his sheer hopelessness. And Aaron’s probably most subversive moment comes in the final pages with the introduction of a familiar Biblical figure that will blow the minds of kids at Sunday, Hebrew schools, and madrasas around the world if they ever read this comic.
The Goddamned #1 is a masterful, unrelenting portrayal of the world of the book of Genesis from artist rm Guera and colorist Giulia Brusco, who invoke the senseless violence, godlessness, and general lack of order that makes basically every dystopia you’ve read about look like a dystopia. Jason Aaron adheres pretty closely to the Biblical narrative while making his protagonist Cain a more complex figure than he was shown to be in Genesis 4 while still building off his internal feelings shown in this story. All in all, The Goddamned #1 shows that the Book of Genesis was the great grandfather of the post-apocalyptic genre and is filled with imagery that will challenge and disgust readers while making them ponder their own beliefs and relationships with classic texts. Plus Guera’s art kicks ass!