Review – ‘The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides’ #3 Continues To Impress With Its Savage Beauty
by Olly MacNamee
We catch up with runaways Jael and Sharri once again in The Goddamned The Virgin Brides #3. A couple of young teenage girls who marvellously and miraculously continue to survive the desolate wastelands of early civilisation. A civilisation informed by the fire and brimstone of the Book of Genesis, of course, with enemies and foes to match.
In The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides #3, we find our young heroes, Jael and Sharri, show that in many ways they are like chalk and cheese in their individual personalities. Jael is cast as the pessimistic pragmatist that is needed when facing the brutal landscape of this Old Testament tie-in. She happily scavenges a dead warrior’s belongings to better protect herself, while later informing her travelling companion, Sharri, the truth behind their upbringing.
Sharri, on the other hand, is the more naive of the two, but she learns quickly. In this world, you have to adapt or die. And fast, with each new vista offering up an all new threat. Sharri and Jael are more than likely victims of a kidnapping, as all are who find themselves trapped in the convent. This is the hardship that is so prevalent in the Old Testament, and with a God to match, and reflected in the world that Aaron is building.
One of the main points of peril in this issue has to be the face-off between Jael, Sharri and a serpent. You know the kind. This serpent seems to want to save these virgin brides – or Jael at least – but clearly only to bolster the other side’s ranks. Plus, he certainly knows a thing or two about the impending apocalyptic flood that, I dare say, writer Jason Aaron will eventually get into in a future series. The serpent trying to coax and cajole Jael will have you immediately reminded of a similar scene from The Bible, but this one certainly has a very different outcome to that old tale. It’s an age old tale, but one worth included to give this tale more than a tenuous link to its source material. And, it works very well.
Once again the combined talents of artist R. M. Guéra and colour artist Guilia Brusco are breathtaking. In both tone and style it reminded me fondly of Darren Aranofsky and Niko Henrichon’s Noah (Image Comics), and a somewhat similar subject matter too. In reading Noah, and in watching the film adaption, I always got the impression that this Noah was a sci-fi take on this well-trodden tale. It could just as easily be set in a post-apocalyptic end-of-days setting, as some of the design work – particularly Aranofsky film adpation – suggests. With the use of some very modern vernacular, I could say the same about this series too.
A timeless story set against a wasteland and a society that seems to thrive on savagery and manipulation of the masses through religion. To me, that’s as much a description of the Old Testament as it is many a post-apocalyptic sci-fi yarn. But, I imagine this is merely coincidental. After all, who wants to read a comic book written in the style of the Bible? Although, this series, and the original one, certainly could be read as an unofficial prequel to the aforementioned title, also published by Image, due to the similarity in styles and the narrative cadence adopted.
Whether it’s Catholicism, Judaism or even Scientology, religion can be a tool to manipulate the masses by a corrupt few. The early Judaeo-Christian religion depicted in The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides #3 is no different. Although, as noted in a previous review for this series, it’s a matriarchal community our two young runaways come from. One which punishes a girl when she first starts menstruating. But while it does offer various representations of womanhood it also deals with sexual identity too.
While the nuns of the convent would have their wards all married, that is not the way biology works, and certainly not for Jael. I was reminded that religion often tries to repress those it sees as outsiders through propaganda and carefully chosen religious quotes. If we often look to contextualise particular beliefs and values to certain times in an attempt to better explain why such views are outdated, then a text written some 2 thousand years ago must surely need some updating, right? But, the Pope isn’t answering my calls, so I doubt this will happen anytime soon and so some will continue to use outdated literature as evidence against science and more modern belief and values.
Overall, another tense, foul-mouthed fun read that isn’t the first work of fiction to use the past to comment on contemporary themes and issues. But, not all are as breathtaking beautiful to behold. The beauty of any creator owned series like this is that you can see on each page where the time between the two Image series went. For me, and after decades of comic book collecting, I find myself more and more leaning towards such works. The monthly grind of regular comics can often show in a drop-off in quality, fill-in artists, etc. But here, as with other books, creators can give us the true vision they want, and not one that’s been rushed due to deadline demands. And, more power to such series.
The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides #3 is available now from Image Comics
For more on The Goddamned: The Virgin Bride, read our coverage to date here.